Diamonds in the Rough....For Now

I asked my students what the quote below meant to them. Seeing myself in the pictures makes it easy for me to put myself in their shoes. I'm still on the same journey of self discovery, learning, and growing as they are. I hope I never forget this - because it's been said you don't stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing.

The same must be true for learning.

Diamonds in the rough,


that is enough,

cause one day we will shine

- all in time.

- Robert Ellender

Picture Puzzle - The Man in the Beans

Doctors have concluded that if you find the man in the coffee beans in 3 seconds, your right half of your brain is better developed than most people.

If you find the man between 3 seconds and 1 minute, your right half of the brain is developed normally.

If you find the man between 1 minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein.

If you have not found the man after 3 minutes, the advice is to look for more of this type of exercise to make that part of the brain stronger!!!

And, yes, the man is really there!!!


I Use it as Fuel For My Dreams

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.


Sometimes you "build" a door by knocking down the wall in front of you. Doing this takes great inner strength, and total commitment, two requirements I have for my students. I think by the end of September everyone had "knocked down" at least one of their "walls".

The classes on both sides asked us to stop (including my son's), the booming sounds being too distracting. Even Brosden has asked me just exactly what we do, because it sounds and looks like anything but traditional "learning" (he came in while I was rocking out to The Godfathers, unphased since I'm this way at home, and naturally started playing a golf game on probability I had prepared.)

Before he left I put in Sinatra and made him serenade the class with me.......and I wonder where he gets his crazy warrior, wildly romantic zest for life......

Usually after morning announcements the crew listens to "Birth, School, Work, Death" (The Godfathers, 1988 - London) while writing in their reflection journals. I want them to practice taking responsibility of their own learning by determining their greatest needs for that day and matching it with the data I have on each of them. This personalizes individual instruction and truly seems to internally motivate, being that they are collaboraters with versus simply "employees" being told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it....Hence the significance of the song.....Birth, School, Work, Death......

This song/journal exercise helps "grab" their hearts and minds to make that total commitment to using this day to step bravely and intelligently in the direction of their greatest selves, uncovering their biggest weaknesses, and truly spending the day turning those weaknesses into strengths (and great dance moves...go Luis...go Luis...)

Last week when the song ended I would put some of their new school photos up on the big screen and spontaneously break out in a hilarious Adam Sandler, SNL impression, saying such things as

I'm Smiley Boy. Look at me. I like to smile. I'm smiling so much I look like a plastic smiley doll......Buy my plastic smiley doll for your kids so they smile too.....Buy one for those frowney neighbor kids next door, and make it a smiley world!

I'm Happy Boy. I'm so happy I have happy written all over my face.....I'm learning so much and feeling so good I can't help but be happy....Be a happy boy like me!

I'm Happy Boy too. I've finally changed from just being a good little, do-as-I'm told student, to somebody who actually understands what he's learning and able to use it for higher thinking. I am now free to roam the room like a learning scientist today. Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty I am free at last! Come on and be free like me!

I'm Bill Gates. I think school is boring. I'm dropping out of Harvard and going to work on computers in my garage. If school's not fun and interesting, then it's a waste of my time. I'm determined to Do Big and make Mr. Stuart's class fun and interesting for myself.....and then own the world like Pinky and the Brain (obviously the voices start changing to match the characters).

Hey! Little Billy Gates, Smiley Boy and the Happy Boy Twins.......I'm Scary Man, now get to work. Ya'll can laugh in this class as much as you want......but ya'll better be working too. Don't think I'm not watching you.....

I did other voice impressions for the girls' pictures but can't remember what they were. All I know is everyone was laughing, including me, which I couldn't believe because by noon each day I miss Sofia so much I feel as if blood is pouring out of the open wound in my chest, and I'm just too tired to try and stop the bleeding anymore, and I drop my hands to my sides, ready to just quit.

Oddly, everytime this happened last week, I would see a pair of hands come up and cover my wound for me, and I would grab hold of them and press them against my chest. Maybe it's God, an angel, the kind words I've received from family, friends and readers...maybe it's the Universe realizing it might have tested me a little too much this time....I don't know. But I'm grateful for those hands.

I then put in Andrea Boccelli and close my eyes, and begin to see pictures of an Italian countryside..... and feel as if I'm riding on a horse, with this unknown person to my side just out of my view. It is so vivid and real I feel as if perhaps I'm vibrating it into existense.....or maybe this is just a preview of what my heaven will look like. Either way, I hold on to this place until it's time to open my eyes and pick up the kids from lunch, and give again, finding out we are all capable of so much more than we think we are....much more than we can even imagine....and I am grateful for this latest challenge. I do not like it, but the battle is evolving me ever onward and upward.....

So.....as I begin a new week, I lift myself up and wipe the blood from my face...and smile as I get ready to head out the door. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I am stronger. I can't imagine anything happening today that will kill me, especially my spirit. Just like you, I am limitless...I am deathless.....Bring On The Pain.....I use it to fuel my dreams.

I don't want to ever sleep, so I can keep you forever.
- Kwaidan (1964 - Japan)

(Line I heard from a movie this morning...and just felt it resonate within.)


The Door to Deathlessness

For those who are ready, the door

To the deathless state is open.

You that have ears, give up

The conditions that bind you, and enter in.

- Majjhima Nikaya

Since Sofia has been withdrawn from my school, I've gone through a withdrawal myself. I miss seeing her everyday, I miss bringing her home with me when I don't have grad school, and I miss her taking over my bed at night.

I was joking with a friend that when I had a queen-sized bed my kids all laid on top of me and I had to learn to sleep without moving. Now I have a king-sized bed and even when it was just Sofia, she would still lay on top of me and I had to sleep without moving.

Now that she's gone, and I have the entire bed to myself......I can't sleep more than 30 minutes a night. For some reason when I lay down, my stomach feels so bad that I think I'm going to throw up. I'm out of energy by noon, don't answer emails, and until today have had no desire to write.

She spent the night on Thursday for the first time in over a week, and I slept with her in my arms for 10 hours.

As big as this painful and physically sickening void within me is, there's also a growing peaceful and powerful space developing inside. It's true that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Instead of anger and bitterness, I feel indifference towards the one who took my daughter from me.

Instead of becoming jaded towards all, I realize not all people can possibly be this way.

And instead of thinking I need to love less and be less vulnerable, I see the great power of being in love and the beauty of being totally vulnerable to it...and I love more.

Through this experience I am realizing I am more than I ever thought I was, and that although this has affected me physically....

.....it is only strengthening me spiritually.

I am ready to enter the deathless state, and it's time to go through that door and start loving myself as much as I love others.

(Sofia LOVES pillows, and I have them EVERYWHERE in the house.) I miss you Baby Girl, and will only love you more when we're together.