Samurai: An ancient warrior code of strength, honor, and loyalty. ***
Samurai Teaching: Having the STRENGTH to passionately believe in every student; the HONOR to teach them in the way they best learn; and the LOYALTY to never give up on any of them. ***
Sensational Living: How sensationally we do this for them now determines how well they will be able to sensationally do this for themselves and for others as adults.
More often I seem to be asked where my good qualities come from. I've never known how to respond, and honestly it's probably been because I didn't believe I really had them.
Certain life events caused me to doubt myself. I mean, how good could I really be to have co-created three children I could not love more than I do, fallen in love with two others (step-daughters), yet after two failed marriages, go to bed and wake up without any of them?
"It must be me. It must be me. I don't deserve to have them."
This all changed by certain positive events that began happening at the beginning of 2007, and culminated with my recent trip to Illinois (see "Renaissance Man"). And because of this I have changed how I see myself. I am, exactly as I am, and it's pretty darn good.
So how did I get this way? It's because I met a man....
I met a man who fathered and loved four children of his own, took on two foster children, got laid off from his factory job more than once, and even became a garbage man to take care of his family.
I met a man who called me one night, asking if he should take on a two-year old who was being beaten by his alcoholic mother. The state had nowhere to place him, and knew he already had two foster children that he and his wife were caring for and loving as their own.
Being in business school and being trained to be a "realist", I responded with a flat out and very confident "NO!" I told him he was already getting into Heaven and he had no more to give. He would bury himself and his family if he took this burden on. He said "OK", and we said goodbye.
He took the two-year-old into his home anyway.
I raced to his home and came in without knocking. I was angry. I was upset. This was a good man, but he was being a fool. As I called out for him a little kid I didn't recognize came toward me and bashed his head against my thigh. I looked down at the top of his dirty-blond head of hair and pushed him away. "This must be the kid. And he's screwed up to boot", I thought.
I looked down and realized he had left snot on my pants. "Arggggghh." Now I'm really upset as the man I came to tell off came into the room, with a peaceful and happy look on his face.
"I see you met Jamie", he said.
"Yes, I have. And his runny nose. Why did you do this?" I glared at him incredulously.
The man looked back into my glare, and said softly, "Because we have more than he does", his eyes suddenly becoming wet.
"Loving man, but a very, very stupid man", I screamed in my head as I walked away before saying it out loud.
Knowing I didn't like this "new addition" to their family, this man and his wife asked me to stay with "Jamie" while they went to work. I very reluctantly agreed, dropping onto the couch, still angry, still confused as to why this man did the exact opposite of what I had advised.
"He's not as smart as I am. That's why. He didn't even go to college. He can't even spell and never reads. I don't like this man very much anymore. He is very little and he will always have very little because he gives what little he has away to 'people who have less'. What a fool! I hope I never become like him."
As I was sitting there lost in these thoughts, "Jamie" had climbed up beside me and was staring at me, accepting me completely even though I had yet to say one word to him. He pointed at some books on the coffee table.
"I'm not reading to you kid. I have plenty of my own reading to do from school. You think I'm going to waste my time reading to you? I'm sorry your mom beats on you. I really am. But you're taking this man and his entire family down. Don't you get it? I can't believe no one else was willing to take you. The agency knows this man is a sucker. They probably didn't even call anyone else."
I said this all in my head, while just looking at this kid and being disgusted by his still runny nose.
He pointed again, and began trying to grab one of the books and give it to me. I pushed it away. But he persisted until it was finally too much, and I broke my silence as I reached past the children's books and picked up the thick Sears Catalog.
"Fine! You want me to read to you? I'll read to you. Ooohhh. Look at the yellow dress. And Wow! Would you just look at this spectacular lawn mower. Holy cow! I don't think I've ever seen a pair of more boring-looking plain black men's dress shoes."
"This will teach him", I thought. I didn't know why I was mocking him, but I was. I turned my head expecting to see his little devastated face, realizing that he didn't deserve to be here. That he didn't deserve to be putting such a financial and emotional strain on this man and his family.
But as I looked over and down, I saw a smile. I saw eyes bright with wonder. I saw concentration and excitement on his face.
"Oh my God! This kid has never been read to. He has no idea this isn't a children's book. He's totally happy just being given attention."
I couldn't continue "reading". I could no longer speak, the lump that had formed in my throat hurt so bad I couldn't even swallow. I fought hard to fight back the tears.
"Because we have more than he does", sounded in my head.
"Because we have more than he does", the words drifted down to my heart, allowing me to really hear them for the first time, allowing me to really understand everything that they meant.....
"Because we have more than he does", made me turn away from Jamie, my father's words making me realize I'm not even half the man he is, and now unable to stop the tears from coming down my face.
"My father IS a MAN. My father is teaching me what it means to be a REAL man. I can only hope to be the man he is, but I will spend the rest of my life trying. I hope I can become the man he is."
I put down the Sears Catalog and picked up a children's book. I don't know what it was. I don't know what it said. All I know is I put my arm around Jamie and pulled him close, and read past my tears and in my best story-telling voice, which was now full of loving emotion. I read to him like a man.
This is for you Dad. And if you ever find yourself wondering how I became what I am, go look in the mirror and say:
"My son met a man."
I hope I make you proud.
*And yes Ryan, I cried as I wrote this. I cried because my father taught me to be a real man, and as you said, "Real men shed tears"(see "Memories Made on Friday").
This is a post I did today for my students over on their "Stuart's Spectacular Students" site. There is an amazing amount of learning we can do as adults by watching children who haven't been taught to be limited by their fears. What is the "Big Bad Wolf" we're allowing us to stop us as adults?
Thank you Bridget, and to each and every one of my students who remind me to Live Out Loud (click to read). My own children are depending on me to show them that IT CAN BE DONE, in "real life". That it's not just another line in a childrens' fairy tale rhyme. (Bella made these clay dolls of me and her. We were "dancing")
WHO'S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF?
IT'S NOT BRIDGET! When the school news asked for applicants for the TV show, I asked you all to raise your hands if you were afraid of applying; either because you were afraid you wouldn't be chosen, or you were afraid you would be.
When the ones who did raised your hands, I suggested you apply anyway. If you didn't "FACE YOUR FEARS" now, it would only get harder to do it as you grew up. I passed along learning I've gained from great people like Plato and Eleanor Roosevelt, and passed it along to you all in hopes of helping you become the greatness I see inside of you. Bridget, you said you would, but only wanted to work behind the camera. You were chosen, and for the past three mornings have been ON the news, IN FRONT of the camera. I don't know where you got your courage from, but I'm glad you chose to focus on your courage versus fear.
Not only are you becoming more each day by doing this, you are HAVING FUN doing it. You can see it in your smile and your energy literally comes through the camera to everyone watching, making us want to hear what you have to say.
You reminded me of the importance of choosing to be happy, to just "go with it", even when you might be scared to death of what you are doing. Now I think of Plato, Roosevelt, and Frost when speaking on having courage.
Why do I get the strong feeling that Robert Frost, the poet and writer, won't be the only Frost people remember?
And that goes for ALL of you. You can't control your life if you don't control your thoughts.
Remember what the structure was that we came up with together this morning: In your comments include:
1. What you INTENDED to learn. 2. THE WAY you intended to learn it. 3. Have you constructed new learning because of this day and can honestly say, I AM MORE than when the day began? (some may even feel like half the globe is in, or on, their head)
Don't forget to include the resources you used throughout the day. Here Sandeep's Hammer and The Mighty Malcom have to move beyond the limits of their textbook and access resources outside the classroom via the internet. This is also reading, and expanding your mind.
"The size of your world is the size of your heart and mind." - Me. I said that! Yes. Me! (imitating King Julian from Madagascar)
Boys, and you know who you are, I want to know how you felt about me "barking" at you when I caught you playing but not learning. Work hard. Play Hard. There's time for both. There's a way to combine both. But you gotta be strong, man. You gotta be strong to do this, man! (I think I see why my mother said I should be training marines and not kids)
Now everybody be quiet. Shhhh! Who keeps making that noise? Oh, it's me again.
I received this today from "Daily OM" and wanted to share it. I would also like to share my willingness to be part of your tribe, "accepting you without reservation and glady accompanying you on your journey of evolution".
"Your Allies On Life's JourneyFinding Your Tribe
Part of being human is the search for an individual identity. Bound to this strong need to establish a unique persona, however, is an equally intense desire for acceptance. It is when we find our individual tribes that both are satisfied.
Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are without reservation and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution. Among them, we feel free to be our imperfect selves, to engage unabashedly in the activities we enjoy, and to express our vulnerabilities by relying on our tribe for support.
We feel comfortable investing our time and energy in the members of our tribe, and are equally comfortable allowing them to invest their resources in our development. The individuals who eventually become members of your unique tribe are out there in the wide world waiting for you.
You are destined to find them, one by one, as you move through life. Sometimes your own efforts will put you in contact with your future tribe members. At other times, circumstances beyond your control will play a role in helping you connect with your tribe.
If you look about you and discover that you are already allied with a wonderful and supportive tribe, remember that there are likely many members of your tribe you have not yet met. On the other hand, if you feel you are still living outside of your tribe, broadening your horizons can help you find your tribe members.
However your life develops after you come together with your tribe, you can be assured that its members will stand at your side. On the surface, your tribe may seem to be nothing more than a loose-knit group of friends and acquaintances to whom you ally yourself. Yet when you look deeper, you will discover that your tribe grounds you and provides you with a sense of community that ultimately fulfills many of your most basic human needs."
Reading to my friend Sofia and my son, whom I'll simply call "boy" for now.
Last night was Date Night with Dad and he spends the night with me.
This morning he made it rain, inside my house (forgot to put the shower curtain IN the shower)!
Bella and danced to "I Could Have Danced All Night" watching "My Fair Lady" and Stina was home sick. SO those two are safe for now.
The youngest of Daddy's Pride, Sofia, was playing with Daddy's very special Japanese Samurai teapot and broke it. I told her I was very sad that she didn't respect something of Daddy's, and that although it wasn't OK she broke it, that I loved her more than the teapot that was so special to me.
It's not complex being a nurturing parent, but it's not easy all the time.
While reading to "the boy" this afternoon, I came across an interesting passage in our book (Charlotte's Web).
"I suppose so," said Mrs. Arable. "I never looked at it that way before. Still, I don't understand how those words got into the web. I don't understand it, and I don't like what I can't understand."
"None of us do," said Dr. Dorian, sighing. "I'm a doctor. Doctors are supposed to understand everything. But I don't understand everything, and I don't intend to let it worry me."
At first I didn't understand why it was raining inside my house this morning. Once I figured out he had done the same thing his sister had done over Christmas, I solved the problem and didn't intend to let it worry me. I did the same thing last night when Sofia broke my Japanese Samurai teapot.
I think I'll start calling them Thing One and Thing Two.
Just a thought....Deeply feeling people allow others to feel deeply.
When Chaucer wrote "The Canterbury Tales" he was near the end of his life. While most writers write their best at an earlier age, he wrote his masterpiece at the end. As I read him I have both "Wow this is good" as well as "What? I don't understand this" thoughts.
Geoffrey Chaucer, deeply disturbed about the current state of affairs in London, wrote a brilliant tale of travelers' tales on their way to Thomas a Beckett's grave. But he did so in Old English (he wrote it in 1387 I think). Nonetheless, a deep, rich tale comes from the pages from a man deeply saddened, yet still courageous and childlike enough to focus his emotions in a more positive and playful light.
This choice allowed him to create something that allows us to feel and enjoy his emotions more than 600 years later.
So if you find yourself a deep-feeling person, allow it to happen. I know at times it means feeling great sadness as well as joy. This is an indication that you feel deeply and richly the emotions of life. You are alive to a great extent.
Simply focus your thoughts on good feelings and what you'd like to have in your life, and use this wonderful ability to feel to attract all the good things to you.
You are powerful, an unwritten masterpiece waiting to happen.
'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. -Alice Walker
Every man I meet is in some way my superior. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
There is no strong performance without a little fanaticism in the performer. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
I believe we shall come to care about people less and less. The more people one knows the easier it becomes to replace them. It's one of the curses of London. E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
Knowledge is power – bacon
Knowledge is true opinion – plato
Knowledge is the lowest level of thinking - bloom
Knowledge is only the beginning point. What you do with that knowledge means everything. - Adam Stuart, or Stuart, maybe Adam is better. Why does everyone get just one name? Maybe because no one knows me from Adam.
Better starve free than be a fat slave. Aesop (620 BC-560 BC)
**And saving the best for last, from his song "Why You Wanna?"..
"I just got one question fo' ya. Is you happy?" - T.I. (2006)
There are few of us who escape feelings of fear and self-doubt as we go about our life. Not to worry! We can all learn how to create within us a wonderful sense of confidence and peace of mind as we face all situations in our lives. My book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway® is filled with very powerful tools to help us push through the fear and self-doubt in order to create a beautiful and satisfying life. Here is a taste of just a few of these tools...
1. Build your sense of trust in yourself. Your first task is to build the trust that whatever happens in your life, you can handle it all. Right now, think of something about any area of your life that is bothering you and repeat to yourself ten times the important words, "Whatever happens, I'll handle it." I suspect you will immediately begin to feel a sense of peace within your being. These are important words to have when the "what if's" come up. "What if I lose my job? I'll handle it." "What if I get sick? I'll handle it." "What if something happens to my marriage? I'll handle it." And what does "I'll handle it" mean? It means, "I'll learn from it. I'll grow from it. I'll make it a triumph!"
2. Do your very best, then let go of the outcome. To help you let go, develop the trust that "It's all happening perfectly." This calming affirmation is a shortened version of: "I've done my best, but even if things don't go the way I want them to go, I will simply find a way to be enriched by whatever life brings me. I will learn and grow from it all. Therefore, it truly is all happening perfectly." Repetition over and over again of this wonderful affirmation, will definitely quiet the negative chatter of the mind and help you let go of the outcome. Peace at last!
3. Stop complaining. Complaining is a big clue that you are not taking responsibility for your experience of life. Instead of seeing life's obstacles as problems, see them as opportunities, opening the door to growth. When you can control your reactions to whatever life hands you, you have the upper hand. You now have a choice: You can create your own misery...or you can create your own sense of growth and wellbeing. That's power! Every time you have the opportunity to stretch your capacity to handle the world around you, the more powerful and confident you will feel.
4. Yes, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Often we think, "I'll do it when I am not so afraid." But in reality, it works the other way round. The "doing it" comes before the fear goes away. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it. Action is the key. Once you have done something you have feared a number of times, guess what happens...the fear of that particular situation goes away. And it's then time to further expand the comfort zone and move on to the next situation you fear. That's what growth is all about. And as your confidence builds, it will become easier and easier to "feel the fear and do it anyway!"
5. When making decisions, adopt the "no-lose" philosophy. The "no-lose" philosophy tells us that "I can't lose - regardless of the outcome of the decision I make. I look forward to the opportunities for learning and for growing that either choice gives me." Remember, if you learn through your "mistakes," there are no mistakes! In this way, the "no-lose" approach to decision-making guarantees that all your decisions will be the right decisions.
6. Know that you count. Know that your presence makes a difference. If you don't understand this very important fact, act as if you do make a difference! Just keep asking yourself the "act-as-if" question in all areas of your life: "What would I be doing if I were really important here?" Make a list and then take action. Soon you will "live into" the realization that you really are important.
7. Commit 100% to all areas of your life. That means when you are at work or with your family and friends, or meeting new people, or volunteering in the community...or whatever...give it all you've got, holding nothing back. When you commit to giving 100%, your sense of focus, excitement, participation, enjoyment, fulfillment, and happiness come alive. What a glorious feeling that is!
8. Say "thank you" a lot. Saying "thank you" is a wonderful way to make important connections in all areas of your life. The words "thank you" can also help you appreciate and focus on all the good that is around you, thus helping you release any feelings of anger and resentment you may be holding. You can see why the words "thank you" are two of the most powerful words ever spoken.
If you, step by step, begin incorporating into your life these tips, your sense of confidence and peace of mind will grow and grow. Remember: there is plenty of time...but now is definitely the time to begin!
*This is from a post I did for my students over on there weblog, over their on they're site (yes, I know I've misused this "homonym" three times. The first was on accident and I was in too much of a hurry to go back and correct it. I've way too much to do and can't afford to take the time to go back and correct a silly mistake that would largely go unoticed anyway, unless of course I pointed it out in some way).
My point was that in preparing a lesson on problem solving for my students I realized how similar the steps are in solving the life problems we face everyday. Instead of reading, riting and 'rithmatic......plug in health, wealth and happiness.
1. Describe the problem you'd like to solve or objective you'd like to achieve
2. Design an experiment or project to explore the mystery you'd like to solve or idea you want to test
3. Do it!
a. Have as much fun as you can responsibly handle.
b. ****As you search for answers, be OK with frustration and struggle. It means new learning is near. New learning means new growth. New growth means a new you (your creativity, caused by your frustration, will bring answers). Creativity creates.....you.
c. *If you are not more at the end of the day than you were when you walked in, we both have done a terrible diservice to you; disrespecting who you are, and not honoring everything you are to be!
4. Determine the amount of learning that has taken place. How? Always go back and start with what you know. In this case it's your objective or the intriguing problem you wanted answers to. Reflect on what you've learned. Evaluate the outcome(s) of your experiment or project. Don't forget about any new or unexpected learning that might have taken place. Some great inventions were made by accident and "failure" (i.e. post-it notes).
Respect who you are by turning in a paper reflecting your best effort.
Honor who you are to be by listening to new questions that come to mind and pursuing those on your own.
R.O.I. is a financial acronym meaning "Return on Investment". It's a way to determine the value of what you've invested, usually in units of time and money.
As a parent or teacher you hope to be able to measure a R.O.I. in your children and students in units of their own greatness. We invest our hearts and minds and talents in the belief of their future greatness, measured in the amount they learn to see it in themselves.
How we define "greatness" has a large influence on how our children will define themselves. I like how the musician Yanni speaks of greatness as defined by his father: "The best things in life are available to everyone. Like truth, imagination, creativity, love, kindness, compassion. So you see, greatness has nothing to do with success, or money, or possessions."
This morning when I walked in my classroom I received my ROI. This is probably coming from the line, "10 days invested, in a child's self-esteem" from my poem "10 Days".
When you're a big giver, you risk running out. So it's nice when the love, compassion, belief, etc is given back. The more it's given the more it fills you up.
Since my children don't live with me it does hurt when they leave. A fact of life and nothing more.
"10 Days" ago I entered the gates of Heaven when they arrived. Yesterday these same gates closed as I watched them go. As I tried to write I struggled and at times felt pulled back into the depths of Hell.
So you can imagine how good I felt seeing two of them (Brosden and Bella) this morning in my classroom before school.
Now imagine leaving and coming back to see the suprise they had waiting for me.
Take that and mutliply it by 100, add 100 million, go around the world 100 times, and then beyond infinity 100 times more.
Now you're at the starting point for how I felt, knowing my investment of love and belief in them has grown into great love and belief among us.
And you'll also just begin to understand my conviction that, no matter how great the problem, how difficult the struggle, or how deep the pain, there is nothing, NOTHING, that cannot be overcome with LOVE and BELIEF, especially when children are involved.
It's not the size of the heart that matters most. A lot of good people have big hearts. What matters even more is the amount of love that can be exploded from it.
This morning there was an explosion outside of Heaven. My heart was swollen in the incident. And I think maybe I heard gates creaking open a little.
*Here Brosden and Bella are dancing to "Niki Nana" (We Are One)