Saturday, August 14, 2021

Who has a hold on you?

 Who has a hold on you, and why do they have this hold? Is the hold life-enriching or life-defeating? If enriching, how do you show gratitude and strengthen this hold, and if life-defeating, how do you diffuse or rid yourself of that hold? 

When people step on your dreams

 People will step on your dreams, and when they do that, you have to consider if there is any truth or wisdom in this oppression. Typically there are nuggets of truth, but there is also likely a lot of garbage too. 

When people step on your dreams, you have to revisit the dream and find the value in it--you have to reach deep inside yourself to gain the energy needed to continue your quest (that is if you really believe in that dream.)

Too often we may step on each other's dreams. Why do we do that? What propels us in that direction? How can we stop this dream-ending, dream-squashing behavior? What can we do instead.

Which brings to mind this very special poem by Langston Hughes. 

Turning another corner: navigating challenge

 After grappling with a trying situation all summer, I finally found a probable path of peace. I was ready to give up, then a series of events led to a new solution, and that solution seems to be working. The success of the solution is apparent by my general sense of peace and the fact that the situation particulars are running their course without any grave worry or concern. 

Could I have reached this resolve earlier?

Honestly, I spent the summer searching for a solution. I tried out many different approaches that failed miserably. This is not the first time this has happened. In my earlier years, there was a similar situation--I tried and tried and tried to make a difference, and perhaps I did have some subtle impact, but the overall situation turned out to be beyond what I could do to significantly change what was occurring. And in the next situation, it was much the same. All three of the situations had these similar elements:

  • A personal vision for something better, brighter
  • Lack of collaboration or team related to my vision and the problem at hand
  • Employing many various strategies with little success
  • Feeling the heavy weight of the problem day in and day out
  • Eventually divorcing myself from the situation and moving on
If I look at the situations from the outside, I notice that the situations are very complex and essentially webs of people, places, and events--these were not simple problems, and when I finally left the situation, I was sad that I didn't achieve greater success, but I was not unhappy overall with my attempts to make change. I would have been far more disappointed if I didn't try at all. 

Contrary to these situations, over the summer, I also tackled another problem area of life and have thus far achieved a fair amount of success in that arena. Why the difference? First, I had more control of this situation. In some ways this issue was singular rather than plural. While this situation included a similar amount of problem solving, consistency, and trial-and-error, I enjoyed far more teamwork and collaboration than in the other situation. In many ways people were working for and with me in this situation whereas in the other situations it seemed like people were working against me. The overarching philosophy related to the success situation was shared by all involved whereas in the other situations, there were multiple philosophies at play--there was not concensus. 

Perhaps there will be less frustration for future issues, if I determine whether there is a collaborative team ready and willing to work on the issue up front, and also acknowledge where the team agrees and where the team disagrees. It's also good to understand who is in charge of the situation--your position in the situation does make a difference. 

I am happy to turn the corner from the summer's struggle. I am far more relaxed. Still ready to do my part, I've surrendered with regard to my hopes for teamwork and collaboration. And, as for the successful summer goal, I'll stay the course and continue to think about the factors that have made that road positive, peaceful, and productive as I'd like to apply those factors to future pursuits. Onward. 

Grateful for good people

 Think of all the people who have touched your life in significant, positive ways. The number of positive people I've encountered over time far outnumbers the negative encounters, and many of those positive encounters included people who did not have to go the extra mile to support me, but they did. Who were/are those people and what did they do?

  • Parents - so much love, sacrifice, time, energy
  • Siblings - countless gifts of love and support over the years
  • Partner, cousins, children, friends - endless attention, care
  • Colleagues, neighbors - multiple acts of kindness, care
  • Public servants, teachers - a steady stream of service and care over the years
  • Strangers - often there at the just right moment to help out with acts great and small
We often don't spend time discussing the good, because there is typically far more good than bad in our lives. The bad is the abberation, the illness, the problem, the focus for change. 

Those that are nearest and dearest to us bring the good, but also can bring the bad--the more intimate our relationships the more room there is for a range of experiences, emotions, and impact. None of us are always as good as we want to be and none of us always have what another person needs. 

I am grateful for all the good people I've encountered in life and the many, many ways they have impacted my life for the better. I hope that I can repay their acts by doing my best by others too. Onward. 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Cultivate a best possible lifestyle

 How can you cultivate a best possible lifestyle? Assessing how you spend your time, the goals you have, and the challenges your face can help you move in that direction. 

What will you add? What will you take away? How will you transform the weak and inefficient ways with meaningful, beneficial lifeways?

Math that matters

 At the start of the school year, the first goal is to create a dynamic classroom community of students that support and know each other. One way to do that is to teach math lessons that matter--lessons that help students to know themselves and each other. 

One such lesson involves teaching students how to collect data that gives them a meaningful perspective about their lives and helps them to know each other too. 

First, ask students to privately answer the following questions:

  • What activities are most meaningful to you in life?
  • What activities do you spend the most time doing?
Then help students create an online or offline chart of the days in a week and the hours in a day. 

Next, ask students to complete the chart by stopping each hour to write down what they are doing during that hour.

At the end of the week, have students add up the time they spent on each activity, then make a bar graph of that data. Arrange the bar graphs from activities that they spent the most time on down to the activities they spent the least time on. 

Once that's complete, have students analyze the data with these questions:

  • What three activities did you spend the most time on?
  • What three activities did you spend the least time on?
  • Does your data support your initial answer to the question, What activities do you spend the most time doing? Why or why not is this true?
  • Do you believe you spend enough time on activities that are meaningful to you? 
  • Why or why not? Will the data you collected and analyze lead to change in the way you spend your time? Why or why not? 
  • Some people say, "You are what you do." Do you think this quote accurately reflects you? Why or why not?
Stay sensitive to students' privacy and engage in a conversation about the metrics collected and follow-up analysis. Discuss how good data collection can sometimes reveal a reality that we might not predict since so many of our beliefs are subject to our emotions, experiences, and memory. 

A good follow-up discussion or activity is to have students identify a goal they have, and then chart out their time/activity path to achieving that goal. 

Prior to doing this activity, you should try it yourself as it will help you to use your time better and teach the lesson better too. Onward.