A Saturday Morning YALP

A Strong Spiritual SHOUT, A Loud Barbaric ROAR, A Saturday Morning YALP! From Walt Whitman's front door.

(I was responding to an email and just felt like playing with alliteration and rhyme, releasing the stress of waking up late and trying to meet a deadline this am - LIFE KICKS BUTT......as long as you can kick your own).

.......Ahhhh, the battle so often is within for the "Peaceful Warrior".

Whether it's "Yay tho I walk in the valley of the shadow of death" and fearing no evil, or taking on the weight of the world, Kick Your Butt Today! Make things happen. Today will NEVER come again. Greet it with a SHOUT, a ROAR, or a YALP - but greet it. It is your friend, stopping by once in your lifetime to never come again.

Shake it's hand and embrace it. Invite it in to stay. Share a cup of coffee or tea. Get to know it in all its imperfections and beauty. Work together to improve and appreciate your own. Allow it to help you become your most wonderful you, giving the world what only you can give. And at night when it has to go, be able to say,

Tomorrow do thy worst For I have lived today!

Peace, Love & Inner Strength,

Living Sensationally is the Best,



Give Without Seeking Anything in Return

There is a big difference between an opinionated person and a person with intelligent opinions. One seeks to limit the world according to their views. The other wants to widen the way in which the world can be viewed. Which one are you?

Your world is the size of your mind. How big can you get it? How beautiful and amazing can it be? How much fun can you create in it? How much can get accomplished? What kind of people are in it with you? This last point is crucial. What kind of people are you allowing into your world, giving your time to that you will never get back? Are these people adding to or taking away from your life?

Are YOU adding to or taking away from others lives? This is why being genuine is crucial. You can fool the world by pretending to be something you're not, and pretend to give freely while secretly seeking only to take.

But the wise old Universe can see, and see you are attracting others such as thee, and soon your life is filled with false friends and takers, that only serve to make your life a living hell in the making.

Give to someone today without seeking anything in return. I really think it sends out such strong vibrations of purity at the cellular level that it's picked up by others' cells and sent back.

But it's sent back even stronger, affecting more than just the two people involved. Recent emails and comments I've received have empowered me with perfect timing, and are affecting all those who see them, from the blogpots to MySpace.

When you believe in something (or someone) with your very cells IT HAPPENS, THEY HAPPEN! How else do you explain phenomena like what's been happening with my students and others across the world year after year? It's an emotional storm of belief passed from inside the teacher to the inner world of the student, repeated over and over with EACH one in the room.

As I am in the middle of a battle called grad school finals, I see a bigger battle looming on the horizon, the start of a new school year. We all have our battles coming to us; this is mine. As I prepare myself for a new class of students, it is the incredible comments from incredible people that give me the strength to believe I can once again create a genuine emotional storm of belief in everyone with my very cells, and be intelligent enough to see how to get that fiery storm into the hearts and minds of each one at their very cells.

This is how students become unstoppable, children feel loved, marriages survive, impossible battles are won, and worlds are changed.

Thank you for all those giving freely to me. You are changing my world and the worlds of all I touch, including my grandmother's who was waiting for my call goodnight, felt the good vibrations you've given me, and felt confident that, "Tomorrow's going to be a very good day."


Peaceful Warrior

"I call myself a peaceful warrior, because the battles we fight are on the inside." - from the movie Peaceful Warrior


If You Need To Laugh, Read This

This is especially for all of us intensely passionate creatures, who need to just stop and laugh sometimes. I'm dedicating the guest book on MySpace as a show of strength and support for Baby Kaleb, who isn't doing as well as first thought. Please sign if you're so inclined.

Alone we tire. Together WE INSPIRE!

So to help us renew our inner spirits through laughter, here is an excerpt from Richard Lederer's hilarious book, "Anguished English".

"It is truly astounding what havoc students can wreak upon the chronicles of the human race. I have pasted together the following "history of the world from genuine student bloopers....from eighth grade through college level. Read carefully, and you will learn a lot:

Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

The pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain. The Egyptians built the pyramids in the shape of a huge triangular cube.

In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, asked, "Am I my brother's son?" Jacob stole his brother's birthmark.

Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses led them to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened, which is bread made without any ingredients. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

David was a Hebrew king ...who fought with the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines. Later came Job, who had one trouble after another."

....That's it for now. The Geeks and Rowmens are next.


Being Human is "Being Human"

Being human is "being human". We ARE going to make mistakes. That's how we learn. My children and students are told that if they're not making mistakes, they're not trying hard enough (not taking enough risk in thinking new thoughts, trying new things, etc).

They are also told that if they're making the same mistakes over and over again, they're not trying hard enough (not learning from their mistakes).

Hopefully the mistakes we make don't hurt others or make their lives worse (as in the cases of domestic violence, child abuse, etc). Some mistakes are much more severe than others.

Keep this in mind when others make mistakes, no matter how aggravating they may be. How we react has a big effect on what others learn from their mistakes:

"I did a dumb thing and can learn from it." or "I am dumb and a mistake"

"That was stupid. I'm smarter than that." or "I am stupid. What's wrong with me?"

"That was bad and I'm better than that. I'll apologize." or "I am bad and terrible and rotten and worthless."

Think of better things you can say to yourself and others when mistakes are made.

Bella flooded the bathroom floor once, forgetting to put the inside curtain inside the tub, causing it to rain down on the first floor. As she stood in the bathroom wrapped in her towel, she looked at me thoughtfully and said, "Well, I've never made that mistake before."

I was stunned for a few moments, and could only say, "Well please don't make it again" and walked away allowing my anger to be replaced by the truth and humor of her words.

Inner strength is walking your talk, and living up to your words. It IS NOT in beating a child or spouse or even yelling at a driver who cut you off. Get a bigger problem to really get angry about. No one can MAKE you angry. Only you can.

"You can tell the size of a person by what makes him or her angry." - ?????

So on a lighter note, here are some pictures of humans being human. Enjoy the silly things we silly creatures do.


Lose Sight of the Shore

My friend Georgia posted a picture of a broken heart, made from the repeated line, "If the heart is broken, shouldn't the pain run out?" I like her writes, and the only thing I could think of was something like, "The only response I can imagine is that the pain is needed for healing, once the broken-hearted decides they want the healing more than the hurting."

I have come to realize that life is often a reflection of choice; feeling like a victim or feeling enlightened, feeling poor and hopeless or feeling rich and empowered, and feeling heart-broken or believing you're learning how to attract only healthy relationships into your life.

This doesn't mean you have to run out and hand someone your heart, saying, "Go ahead. Stab it! It won't hurt me anymore." It just means learning how to identify the people that won't stab. And this may take more time for some and less for others. As passionate and risk-taking as I am, this is one area I'm in no hurry to put my heart into again.

So we're all in the same boat (boy I hope it's a big one or at least has a shower). While we're in it, lets have the courage to have faith in new oceans, ones we've yet to experience. Some of us may row faster and some slower, and that's OK. It's better than holding the oar in your hands and beating yourself over the head with it.

"You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."
- unknown

By the way, I was living with my best friend Brian Donovan after college. He was miserable in his marketing job, as was I in my sales job. I found the above quote and wrote it down for him. The next day he packed up and headed for Hollywood. He and his roommate struggled every day for about seven years.

Now his voice (very cool and one I use at times while teaching) is heard all over the country, and best known as the voice of JETIX on Cartoon Disney. His roommate, Molly Shannon, went on to SNL and movie fame.

Neither wallowed in the brokenness of their lives. Neither should we. As Mary Katherine Gallagher would say..........


Daddy It Hurts

This is from my Scottish brother, Stuart, over in Scotland. It's things like this, that I know go on in too many children's lives, that make me:

1. want to be there to protect them. a "man" isn't someone who beats a child. anyone who wants to should be made to have to be able to get through a real man first, someone who can either talk some sense into them or knock it into them if necessary. man is a rational being and an animal. i'll be whatever it takes to protect a child.

2. love every child possible, fill their heads with all the good they already are and all the greatness they are in the process of becoming. we are to protect them from themselves, from their own learned self-doubt. Some of the best lines that have ever spoken to me from inside are;

"When we are young
and covered in love

We completely believe
we are gifts from above."
- Adam Stuart


My name is Chris
I am three,

My eyes are swollen
I cannot see,

I must be stupid
I must be bad,

What else could have made
My daddy so mad?

I wish I were better
I wish I weren't ugly,

Then maybe my mommy
Would still want to hug me.

I cant do a wrong
I cant speak at all

Or else im locked up
All day long.

When im awake im all alone
The house is dark

My folks arent home

When my mommy does come home
I'll try and be nice,

So maybe ill just get
One whipping tonight.

I just heard a car
My daddy is back

From Chariles bar
I hear him curse

My name is called
I press myself

Against the wall
I try to hide

From his evil eyes
Im so afraid now

I'm starting to cry
He finds me weeping

Calls me ugly words,
He says its my fault

He suffers at work
He slaps and hits me

And yells at me more,
I finally get free

And run to the door
Hes already locked it

And I start to bawl,
He takes me and throws me

Against the hard wall
I fall to the floor

With my bones nearly broken,
And my daddy continues

With more bad words spoken,
"Im sorry!", I scream

But its now much to late
His face has been twisted

Into a unimaginable shape
The hurt and the pain

Again and again
O please God, have mercy!

O please let it end!
And he finally stops

And heads for the door
While I lay there motionless

Sprawled on the floor
My name is Chris

I am three,
Tonight my daddy

Murdered me

Feeling It More and More

Baby Kaleb's condition got me, so I got my kids. It's funny how this mysterious thing called love is capable of so much. I seem to understand it less and less, and feel it more and more. It's like zen. You can't really define it, only experience it. (Brosden reading to me last night)

All I know is that I tried to study and couldn't concentrate. I lifted weights until my muscles shook from fatigue but felt no release. (Sofia sleeping upstairs right now)

I drove around Orlando trying to track down my kids and felt frustrated. I called my sister and just listened to her tell me how my godson Jack (the inspiration for the "My Name is Jack" books ) is wearing big-boy pants for the first time today......and I felt better, just listening to her voice. (Bella is the best of all of us - always falling asleep first)

I met Sofia at a gas station whom I could hear yell "Daddy!" as I pulled up beside her car, and I felt the world around me changing. We picked up Brosden and Bella and I felt harmony, hope and happiness. (Brosden is usually the last - no shut-off switch, just like me)

I don't know what love is, but I do know how it feels. And it feels good.

When we are older
And surrounded by love,

We realize the gifts right before us,
Are what we're most grateful of.

- Adam Stuart

Sofia telling me she's "going to work"

Explaining to me that she's an artist

Showing me her artwork
Acting crazy (can't imagine where she gets that from :-)

Art on her face. Kisses on her lips.

We went to visit our neighbor's turtles.

Science learning happening naturally and playfully

Their smiles light up my world (always smiling these kids - what's wrong with them :-)

We missed Cristina, so we sent her messages on MySpace (holding a crab we found at the beach last week)

Hi stina, we miss u and we hope u can come again - BROSDEN

Come back sometime soon. We miss u - BELLA

We love u. Brosden n bella n Sofia we love u. We love u. I wish we could go back to the beach n hotel again n all the time. Good times. Good times. Dad you're slouching. - SOFIA (they get money every time they catch me slouching)

My spirit renewed, I send out resounding inner strength to Baby Kaleb and all of you. Today is a new day. Today is the day we create our lives anew. It is Groundhog Day (see this movie if you haven't already. See it again if you're not saying "That's right. It is Groundhog Day!"


Baby Kaleb Needs ALL of Your Inner Strength

Baby Kaleb is back in the hospital (see A GIANT LEAP BACK). A victim of baby shaken syndrome from a non-family member, he and his family need all the inner strength each and every one of us has.

Maybe I'm asking because I feel mine running out. I feel great sadness. My friend Liz just wrote a post asking for one word that describes us. "LIFE!" burst from my heart over and down my arms out to my fingers as I typed my singular definition.

With LIFE we have everything. Without it we have nothing. So after punching a door and with tears in my eyes I send this to you. Send him the strength to fight for his life. Send it now, and send it strong.



I received a comment from a good friend on my "The Power of Life" post. He felt bad for me and encouraged me to stay strong and positive, which is a nice thing to say. But I wanted to make it very clear, that being in pain is not necessarily bad. It is in dealing with the pain in your life YOU BECOME STRONGER and MORE POSITIVE. And as your strength increases, so does your ability to cause GREAT change in your life, and hence THE WORLD that interacts with you. (By being a happy and strong person, I believed we could combine great fun with great learning in the classroom)

Pain is an incredible tool to produce miracles. Life IS NOT a pursuit of trying to avoid pain or feel sorry for those that have it in their lives (I was sent to the principal's office at least three times for "expecting too much" from Kenny, yet constantly questioned by other teachers and students if I really ever taught anything because there was so much noise and laughter coming from the room).

The principal chose to trust me. As much as I respect any boss, I was strong enough to believe in myself whether my boss and others did or not. Since I used to crumble when my wives didn't believe in me, I can only attribute this HUGE amount of growth from going through and overcoming MORE fear, doubt, worry and pain involving the loss of my children from my everyday life. Going from a half-million dollar home to a rented room in a neighborhood known as "Crime Hills" didn't hurt me anywhere near this much. (I was too hard on Ryan in the beginning and had to go through the pains of learning a different approach. We ended the year very close.)

I finally learned not to feel sorry for myself (thanks Mom and Dad for saying things I needed to hear). I certainly don't want anyone else feeling sorry for me now. That can only bring me back down and weak. Too many students need me to believe in them. How long can I do that feeling so bad about my situation that I can't sleep at night?

Every person knows how hard it is to hold onto their dreams with each passing year. It is less painful to let them go as foolish and unrealistic than it is to hold on to them. And the more you do make them come true and begin succeeding you WILL have to deal with the pain of critics who really just wish they could be more like you.
(Jessica is a GENIUS! She would create characters to go along with her stories, testing at the very top of the country in reading, and at the highest level you can in math - her WORST subject at the start of the year!)

The main reason they're not more like you is not because they don't have your potential, it's because they haven't put themselves through the process of dealing with their everyday pain as well as you have, and in process, getting strong enough to develop said gifts. This is exactly what I was talking about in "Give One More, To One More". That's why I feel "potential" is nothing. What you do with your potential is everything. (Serena WILL become ANYTHING she wants)

In fact, the more pain, the greater the opportunity for growth. The bigger the obstacle, the bigger you can become. I read somewhere that "you're as big as the obstacle that stops you". I've never forgotten it.

So I put my students through more pain and expectation than they have ever had before.
(I taught Haseeb like Denzel Washington coached his players in "Remember the Titans". This is what worked for him, what he needed. He was accepted to private middle school and Denzel's signed picture is in the room.)

At the same time they experience more fun and laughter than they ever had, probably since Kindergarten, simply because I have taken the pains to learn each of their motivations and learning styles, teach them that way, and then teach them how to motivate and teach themselves.

This produces a great flow of real learning versus trying to force it. As a result, I am allowed to operate as a doctor and strength-coach, identifying and working with individual needs versus standing in front of the room and "teaching" all day. (Kenny, one of my biggest challenges and one of the ones I miss most, grew more in overall reading and math than any other student in the entire 5th grade). I just put a slide show on MySpace (click here) in celebration of their achievement as being one of the highest growing classes in Orange County, FL (the other O.C. :-)

So I say, "BRING ON THE PAIN!" If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger. I have found this to be very true. I know pain can hurt, but it can't kill. Only you can do that. And ONLY YOU can use it to allow you to grow and become more enlightened, more peaceful, and much happier in the long run, which is TODAY! I have wanted it to kill me in the past because then I wouldn't have to feel it anymore. But I held on one more day, sometimes even one more hour. But I did. (Mighty Malcolm, like myself, wasn't so mighty in the beginning. By the end he was!)

Now I am a healthier and happier person with healthier and happier children, other kids no longer being abused, students in the top of the county and country and I bet the world, straight A's in a tough masters program, and two book series in process. All from struggle, all from pain, all from overcoming fear, doubt and worry - three of the worst drugs you can take into your mind.

So bring on the pain. Bring on the badness. I will not intend or desire any of it, but by Buddha and God and any other enlightened being I can learn from and grow, I WILL SUCCEED. I WILL LIVE WHILE I'M ALIVE. I will live ALIVE-ING versus DYING.

We don't enter school knowing how to do and deal with everything. We don't leave school knowing all of it either. Life is a process, a wonderful adventure that includes scaling cliffs and climbing mountains as much as it does swimming in the ocean and walking through a meadow of flowers.

No matter what mountain you're being asked to climb, CLIMB IT! And when you get to the top, reach out help others up. We are all capable of being more than we're living now, and more greatness than we could ever imagine. Our success is only starting.

There's Zen in Fire! All the time!

*P.S. If you'd like, here is the link to their stories from about Christmas to the end of the year, Stuart's Spectacular Students (I had the strength to know they would be spectacular and hold onto that vision, until they saw it and believed it too. Thank God for the pain I've been through.)

Their stories from the first of the year to Christmas are on Samurai Teaching ~ Sensational Living. This blog got so big I had to make the other. The link to the first student story on the Samurai blog is "The Winners of Washington Shores.'"