Be MORE of a MAN

A comment any man would be ecstatic to receive on my latest MySpace post (The Game of Life) sent me on a mini-plea to my fellow man:

"Knowing others is wisdom; Knowing the self is enlightenment. Mastering others requires force; Mastering the self needs strength." - Lao Tsu

We men are manipulated into thinking we need to prove our manhood by conquering others through material possessions and titles. We strive to appear wise and forceful to the world in hopes the world will validate us as real men.
We can't find that from the world, and only our strength allowing us to hold on to what's right will give us the enlightenment to validate ourselves. I don't want to be number one. As much as your comment means to me Stevie, I want all men to awaken from our disillusionment of what it means to be a man...and see with great clarity our true power to effect powerful love and positive change onto the world. We are physically strong for a reason.....not to destroy other men but to embrace and uplift all those around us....and to stop others from hurting and destroying the innocent ...yet the power of a woman is just as great, able to take a man who has let her in his heart and either crush him to the ground or give him wings of grandeur........and vice-versa for women who love a man....We all are equally important to each other......So very equally important

Then I read a post by Tarringo (I Hear You Crying) and realized what a real man he is. He is also gay. But how can a real man be gay? That goes against long-held traditional beliefs. A "man" is what society has told us it is, and we men strive to become that.

But no matter what your personal beliefs are, it matters that your beliefs come from a higher level of thinking.

I've encountered many men who spend their lives being tough guys, rich guys, sensitive guys, sexy guys and martyrs in an attempt to have the world, and more specifically women, tell them they are "men".

There's nothing wrong with any of these things by themselves. They're all great and should be developed in an attempt to become whole. But when they're pursued as an attempt to seek validation for one's manhood they become misleading.

The reason for this rant is that at times other men see me as threatening to their own manhood. Instead of becoming friends and encouraging each other to become our highest selves, they try to make me their enemy. I have no time to prove I'm more of a man than anyone else. And when you tell me you're going to kick my ass or kill me, you better do it, because I'm going to be more of a man by challenging you to be one too after you fail.

(student pictue removed)

Children are dying, women are being abused and men who don't do those things are spending their energy and talents not trying to stop it, but trying to prove they're more of a man than others. We spend our entire lives trying to prove we are better by having a better car, better wife, better job, better children, better income, better looking, better sensitivity, better heart, etc, etc, etc.

People are dying, people are being abused, and we "men" are so busy proving we're men that we can't hear the crying:

She brought you into this life

To love, to guide, and to Nurture

But the day she was taken from your world

Made living without her such torture

…..now motherless,

Looking down at her tombstone keeps the pain multiplying

I hear you crying

You still remember when you were five

The morning you woke up without her there

Leaving you in a world you did not select

With a pain inside filled with neglect

….. now motherless

You have to find a way to keep on trying

I hear you crying

You watched her stick needles in her arm

A mental abuse that brought you much harm

And the day she refused to seek help

Had you hopeless and feeling all alone

…now motherless

Sometimes you just feel like dying

I hear you crying

You remember every time he touched you

As a little girl you couldn't help but wonder

Why she would ever doubt you and refuse

To believe you suffered the sexual abuse

….now motherless

You turned to a life of prostitution and lying

I hear you crying.

©Copyright 10/07 Tarringo T. Vaughan

A Dawgmatic View Original

I believe this poet is a real man, because he can hear the crying, and is doing something about it through his poetry. I mean it when I call him my brother. I also mean it when things are "too bad", they are TOO BAD TO ALLOW TO CONTINUE, and must be stopped.

I'm not welcome in certain neighborhoods I go into to talk to parents who abuse their children or look for former students who have gone astray. I've even been told that if I ever come back I'm not leaving alive.

(student picture removed)

Well I can hear the crying, and guess where I got this MLK shirt?

Just as more hate cannot drive out hate, more violence cannot drive out violence. But violence is a reality throughout human history. And maybe it can serve a purpose. So I send out this challenge to my fellow man, the same challenge I give myself at 3am every day.

Today, be man enough to be more of a man than you were yesterday.

(student picture removed)

If you are threatened by another man, stop and think why he threatens you. Check your beliefs as to what it means to be a man, and look again to see with the eyes of a real man.

If someone has something you want, be happy for him that he developed talents that allowed him to get it, and spend your energy developing talents that will produce the same results.

If someone has beliefs that you don't want, see that your own beliefs aren't born from ignorance, and befriend him to better understand what his beliefs are.

And if you take on another man or even threaten him with violence, and he defeats you, don't get up and say you're coming back with more men, more guns, more lawyers, etc to do what you could not do.


With more of a heart. More of a mind. More of a purpose in life than to protect your fragile sense of what it means to be a man that you're threatened by others who are different or better than you.

You become strong enough to stop being threatened by those who are different. Replace your ignorance with intelligence and learn the color of one's skin, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, etc have very little to do with what makes a man different than others.

Become man enough to stop being threatened by others who are better than you. Rid yourself of the desire to try to find faults and instead focus on where he IS better than you are. See him as a mentor, professionally or personally. You will find that you are better than he is at something, and he in turn can learn from you.

Everyone around us is better than we are at something.....Let's open up and learn from them.

We are better than everyone else around us at something...Let's share and teach them.

And let's make sure that what we admire in others really matters in the end. And let's make sure that our own talents really matter in the end.

Being a real man can be real hard and even real dangerous. It can get you hurt...and it can get you killed. But the reality is that thousands of innocent people are getting hurt and killed every day.

For 167,000 worldwide, today is their last day. If I'm among those today, I will not go out wasting my time worrying that someone else appears better than me, paining over past injustices, or being afraid of a tomorrow that may never come....Instead, I will focus all my efforts on being unafraid to live fully today by bettering myself and all those I come in contact with.

James died at 24. MLK at 39. I'm 40, and plan on living till 400. But I do know death is coming for me. Once a week I have to avoid a high-speed motorcycle crash into the car swerving into my lane. Last week I went home with chest pains and had to fight the fear of memories of a heart attack sidelined me five years ago.

But instead of being afraid of death, I plan on punching it in the face every time it comes for me. Death is not scary, being afraid to live is.

The man not afraid to kill is dangerous, but not scary. He can be defeated, and then enlightened.

The man not afraid to kill or die is both dangerous and scary, because he has nothing to lose. It is more difficult to defeat him, and even more difficult to enlighten him, so he must be loved, and given something to live for before he can be enlightened.

The man who won't kill, who has everything to live for, and is still unafraid to die....is special.....because he is real. And it is this man who has a real chance to make real positive changes in the world.

Today is very special. The only thing that matters, life, has been given to us. We must make it special by being more than we have ever been before. What stopped us in the past, fears, anger, bitterness, hurt....cannot be allowed to stop us today. We must live today as if we have been given ONE MORE CHANCE TO BECOME EVERYTHING WE'VE ALWAYS WANTED.....BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN THAT ONE MORE CHANCE.....TODAY!

I'm looking at a picture above my desk of James Dean getting into his car moments before he died in a crash. It's the last thing I'll look at before saying goodbye to Shanghai and heading to "work", or what I call, "You mean I spend my day making children smarter, happier and stronger...and I get paid to do it?"

We don't know when our day will come. But we do know that THIS DAY HAS COME, and another chance to start fresh, to become everything we've always wanted....and for us men....a chance to BECOME MORE of a MAN....and help this WORLD to become MORE.


The Game of Life

I finally got to reading my email this morning (thank you to all the truly WONDERFUL people who have written). I started to notice a common theme in my responses.

I grow with each challenge. Instead of my light being dimmed, I close my eyes and see a more beautiful world of what could be, and my light burns brighter.

All I know how to do is close my eyes to the ugliness of the what is, and open them to the beauty of the what if, and burn a light that shines so brightly that as much of the world is covered in light and love as can be, and a better world of the what if is created. (Bella singing along with Van Johnson to "Love is All")

And it is this internal light in each one of us that cannot be allowed to die out, that eternal summer that cannot be allowed to fade. Instead it needs to be fanned and flamed and shine so brightly within us that it explodes outside of us and on to the world. (Me imaging the day when I can play the Spanish/Classical guitar this well)

This Thursday for the second week in a row after an hour drive to Sofia's house, she wasn't there for Dad/Daughter's day and no one seemed to know where she was (out with mom somewhere or they forgot it was my day, etc).

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - MLK

One's capacity to have great courage cannot come without facing great fear. And one's ability to love greatly cannot come without choosing to remain loving in spite of being hated and treated unlovingly.

I resisted the temptation to bring in the lawyers and instead sent thoughts and vibrations one more time to the people involved that they were better than their behavior.........and all the love I could to my baby girl who would eventually come home, see the moon and think, "That's Daddy watching over me", and then wonder why she hasn't seen me, and be told Daddy "only sees her 4 times a month" (although since she was taken from the school where I teach it's been at least 11 times a month).

I have a lot to be angry and bitter about, but I choose not to be. I could choose to see the ugliness in others, but I choose to see the beauty within me, and within me see the beauty in others. I close my eyes to all that's wrong with the world of "what is" and open them to see a better, more beautiful world of what could be...The world of "What If?" I call it.

What if we could see solutions instead of problems? Spread light instead of darkness? Love versus hate?

So I spent the rest of Thursday focusing on what was perfect and beautiful in my world, which was my Iszabella-Esperanza, who had given up Chuckie Cheese to be with me. As difficult as it was to overcome the sadness and pain of missing Sofia, I ended up laughing and loving with Bella, and before we went to bed, I had received $200,000 for creating a new teaching method and bought a log cabin in the Western United States. I had also become an artist.

I also got remarried and had three more children, and somehow still ended up in Millionaires Row.........

Bella and I were playing the game of Life.......which is exactly what all of us are doing on a daily basis. But instead of a spin of the wheel determining what "spaces" we land on and what happens to us or what "we get in life", it is the choices we make in how to react to the spaces we land on that determines our fate.

Sometimes I feel like the warrior standing alone, and other times I feel connected in light and love to the entire Universe. I do know that with each challenge that I choose to face with Inner Strength.....courage and love....I grow and evolve.

Although sometimes you wish your challenges would kill you, know that if they don't, you do grow stronger. And if you don't face them, or choose to react to them in a space of hate and darkness (bitterness, anger, etc).....you grow weaker.

When Brosden and Bella ask me what I think of Sofia's mother, I tell them honestly that I don't think of her, that I think of my love for Sofia, and choose to trust Sofia knows how much I love her. When Sofia asks me what I think of her mother, I tell her honestly that I am glad I married her mom because if I hadn't I wouldn't know this great, amazing little girl called Sofia Katherine. (Brosden had carjacked their supermarket ride)

And when Bella received the Pulitzer Prize during Thursday night's game and asked what that was, I told her it was like prize fighting in boxing, but with really smart people throwing books at each other (Steven Wright joke)......

Tough times don't last, tough people do. And toughness isn't about physically, mentally or emotionally defeating your fellow man. Toughness is all about not allowing yourself or your fellow man to bring you down, and doing all you can to bring both yourself and him up.

These are from a post by Angel Love, which I saw Thursday, and helped keep my light from burning out.

"If you had a friend who talked to you like you sometimes talk to yourself, would you continue to hang around with that person?"

-- Rob Bremer

Thanks to the power of our inner critics, most of us have a very poor opinion of ourselves. Yet self-contempt merely keeps us miserable and stuck in our mediocrity.

If we were to make only one change to transform the quality of our lives, we might try sending a little love our own way.

"A critic is a legless man who teaches running."

-- Channing Pollock

"Unkind criticism is never part of a meaningful critique of you. Its purpose is not to teach or to help, its purpose is to punish."

-- Barbara Sher

"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."

-- The Buddha


Taneicea's Poem ~ Thank You My Brother

"Thank you for freedom. Thank you for peace. Thank you my brother, for having this dream."

- Taneicea (January 21, 2008)

The importance of Martin Luther King, Jr. DREAMING BIG and DOING BIG is not only did HE become big, but it has allowed OTHERS to dream, do and BECOME BIG as well (Taneicea now unafraid to have her picture taken).

His passion turned him into an extraordinary person, giving this ordinary man EXTRAORDINARY belief that ALL students can be reached, which in turn has inspired this ordinary girl to climb EXTRAORDINARY heights.

We hold onto not only our own dreams, but THE DREAMS OF OTHERS AS WELL.

EVERYTHING you and I do today matters. Everything we do has an effect, either positive or negative. And what WE CAN DO TODAY is very small compared to what most actually WILL DO TODAY.

Make this day count......choose to have the courage to face your own fears.......because others are counting on it to help them face theirs!

I am so proud of how far Taneicea has come, both academically and personally. Her inner strength is allowing her to begin to feel AND TRULY BECOME UNSTOPPABLE! (Taneicea doing ANOTHER extra project AND asking to practice facing her fears again THE VERY NEXT DAY after crumbling to the floor in fear and "failure" the day before)

I can't believe I get paid to do this, and am grateful my career exists. MLK awakened the internal flames of so many.

I am sure he died believing we would continue doing the same, in hopes the entire world would be aflame in bright light....not by terrorist bombings and retaliatory missile strikes.....but by that "eternal summer (of hope, courage, accomplishment, love and evolution) that never fades" (Shakespeare)

And let's do it together, arm-in-arm. We are human beings, and need each other. Going it alone drains the very life out of you. We need each others' love and encouragement to keep going. And you never know what one thing you'll say or do that will stay with another person the rest of his or her life, affecting all the people that person affects.

Have the courage to be kind today! Effect an infection of inner strength based on honest appreciation for what is an unconditional belief in what could be. Do that....and "that" will be created!

Just look at what Taneicea has become in half of a year for all the proof you need.


Find The Hero

Taneicea is reciting a poem she made in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Look at her face; filled with hope and happiness, believing in the promise that a today filled with great belief and great actions creates an even greater tomorrow........the same as MLK.

I'll ask her to write it down for me today. I liked it very much.

I wrote a poem for her the first day I met her. It was stolen from the back of my motorcycle before I could publish it but the first few lines were something like:

Please sir, I hope you're not lying. Could someone believe in me this much, Without me even trying?

I want to believe in me so much....as much as....as much as you seem to believe in me.

I was reading Shakespeare's sonnets the other day and found a perfect one for her to replace mine. It's slightly better :-)

It talks about going through rough times (Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May) and the good times seeming far too short ( And summer's lease hath all too short a date).

And it also speaks the truth of the power of an eternal internal summer, so long as that sunshine is kept alive inside ( But thy eternal summer shall not fade).

Sonnet XVIII

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Love and beauty is not about what someone else sees in you and what they can take or get from you, it's about seeing it in yourself and others, and the process of igniting it and fanning the flames until there's a wildfire inside, even if it takes dancing to Sinatra while still teaching (helping new student Courtney understand multidigit decimal multiplication).

Since her arrival she has yet to leave class one day not knowing something she didn't know when she arrived.

In spite of the singing, dancing and sonnets, there are no wasted days in this class, because there are no people who are a waste of time.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Shakespeare were both courageous persons who felt and thought deeply.

Taneicea, who has grown @two years in reading this year in just five months, and actually asked for these pictures to be taken, has found her courage and ability to think and feel deeply.

She is my hero. At the Foo Fighters concert last week during the song "There Goes My Hero", I began to see the faces of my students, past and present. I realized I liked the song so much because not only are people like Sinatra, Shakespeare and MLK my heroes, but so are my children and students.

It's so easy to see the hero inside of each one of them. And all I have to do is hold onto that vision until it becomes a reality.......TO THEM!

Find the hero inside of others....And you'll find it inside of yourself!



Just a quick note to thank that special core of readers, both public commenters and private messengers, for what I've come to learn is honest appreciation and praise for who I am and what I'm trying to accomplish. Many times your positive comments come in the midst of negative ones.....and as I've been more successful in focusing on creating a world of solutions that could be, versus the problems of the world of what is......my world is changing before my very eyes.

It is very exciting, and you are a part of that changing world....as new people enter my life, and some old ones disappear.

Thank you. Together we are making a real difference in the real world; giving our hearts to what could be in one hand, and the finger to our fears, self-doubts and limitations with the other. I may sound a little more like Malcolm X v. Martin Luther King right now, but there are many times when it would be so easy to give up. I'm a fighter and a lover. This is what I know. This is who I am. (and this is my grandma, whom I talk to every night, and the last words we say to each other are, "I love you".)

A sincere thank you to all who accept and appreciate me as I am. Even if I'm unable to tell you every time, it has given me the strength to go on more than you know.


Samurai Teaching

Assignment: Book Reflection #1
Book: “The NEW Meaning of Educational Change”, by Michael Fullan
Chapters: One & Two – “A Brief History of Educational Change” & “The Meaning of Educational Change”

Within the first paragraph of the first page I hear one word, “victimization”. Everyone is blaming everyone else for education’s woes, while at the same time feeling their hands are tied to promote any real change because the “other guy” isn’t doing it right or won’t do what is needed to make it right. Policy makers blame school administrators, who blame teachers and parents, who blame students and policy makers. And all we have is a quagmire of the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker, all trying to row the same boat in different directions, or not trying to row at all.

Certain things jumped out at me:

“Today…it is abundantly clear that one of the keys to successful change is the improvement in relationships.” (Fullan, p.4)

“…our schools need to teach learning processes that better fit the way work is evolving. ..this means teaching the skills and habit of mind that are essential to problem-solving, especially where many minds need to interact.” (Fullan, p.7)

The idea that change with no meaning has no meaning at all. (Fullan, p. 20)

“Reflectivity, purposefulness, and awareness characterized these teachers, but not in a linear way.” (Fullan, p.33)

“Changes in beliefs are even more difficult. They challenge the core values held by individuals regarding the purposes of education.” (Fullan, p. 36)

“Perhaps the most important conclusion of this chapter is the realization that finding moral and intellectual meaning is not just to make teachers feel better. It is fundamentally related to whether teachers are likely to find the considerable energy required to transform the status quo. Meaning fuels motivation; and know-how feeds on itself to produce ongoing problem solving. Their opposites – confusion, overload, and low sense of efficacy – deplete energy at the very time it is sorely needed.” (Fullan, p.39)

This book holds promise of great relevance for me. As a teacher/parent for the last eight years, I have felt that the blame for a student failing should be distributed this way:

As a teacher, if one of my students can’t read, it’s my fault.

As a parent, if my child can’t read, it’s my fault.

As a student, if I can’t read, it’s my fault.

As a principal, if one of my teacher’s students can’t read, it’s my fault.

As a policy maker, if a student in a school in my state can’t read, it’s my fault.

With everyone taking the blame, instead of defending themselves from it, everyone can be a part of the solution, and real and necessary changes can be made. I’m hoping this book offers real insight as to how this “safe” environment can occur.

The importance of improved relationships between the teacher and student is of high priority to me. This to me is exactly how a teacher creates a “safe” environment. I have never felt that anyone outside of the classroom controls how that classroom is run. Only the people inside of it do. And a master teacher does not allow the students to control it with the excuse of “That’s just how they are, how they come to me. What can I do?” A master teacher acknowledges the reality of “what is” of his environment, but has a vision of what could be inside of him, and sees his students and the curriculum through this vision. And he holds onto that vision, until the dream becomes the reality. This cannot be done without the cooperation of the students. And the students will not cooperate without a strong relationship with the teacher.

Teaching problem-solving skills and habits of mind takes buying into by both the students and their parents. The master teacher needs to be able to persuade them to change what they have only known, what I call the Sit-Listen- Look- Learn approach, to the Stand-Speak-Think-Do activity that is required to produce skilled problem-solving students. And we have to convince them that this change is necessary.

To honestly do this, we must be convinced that change is necessary for that individual student. If the current approach is truly working for a student, then no change is needed for that student. And if change is needed for another student, then change must occur for that student. Comparing our jobs to doctors, our job is to treat each “patient’s” ailments in the method that best works for each patient. And to me that means analyzing each student’s data and developing lesson plans for each one.

“Reflectivity, purposefulness, and awareness characterized these teachers, but not in a linear way.” (Fullan, p.33) This offers me great relief. I have been beating myself up because I seem to be unable to operate in a Newtonian linear-law of operations; first you do this, then this, then this. I find myself operating in the quantum world of needing to observe a student work first before I can make a reasonable lesson plan for him or her. And I end up combining student’s data with my own intuition to move each child forward. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing, as it’s produces real results for the “whole” child.

But all this does not come without a price. The energy it takes to create this world of happiness, harmony and high achievement for every student reminds me of the time I climbed the highest mountain I could find one summer in Estes Park, Colorado. I passed out three times before I found myself lying in the snow at the top, looking up at the bluest sky and purest white clouds I had ever seen. With each gasp of breath I felt as if I was breathing in truth and beauty, and I think that has become a part of me forever.

After a few hours I was able to climb back down and get to camp. My friend who had given up the climb was sure I had died and was getting ready to leave for help. He told me I was crazy…just as many fellow teachers do today. They may be right, because I climbed that mountain in nature just once. I seem to be climbing the one in education every day. And by Christmas of this year I was passed out, but now it’s time to climb again. Only the moral truth and intellectual beauty I truly see in each child will allow me to find the energy and motivation to increase my know-how and produce the ongoing problem solving solutions to unlocking this beauty inside of them.

We’ve seen how a safe environment in the classroom allows for greater student achievement. The classroom is a microcosm of the entire world of education. And it is my job to continue to create these safe environments in my classroom, and through my writings communicate the possibilities of this expansion out into the world. Perhaps I should also find a way to create time to be involved in this opportunity I’ve been given to help develop a new charter school. The more I learn from others equates to the more I can offer others. Absorbing as much insight and new thinking as I can from the chapters of this book and everyone around me will allow me to do this.

The idea of how improved relationships literally create worlds of high harmony and academic achievement must be spread. In a post yesterday, I wrote, “Although my writings have decreased as my energy has dwindled, when I see the looks on our faces I have to share this....this......THIS is what IS possible. Can you imagine our tiny world being duplicated out over the planet? Our classrooms, work environments, and homes would all be incredible places to come to…And it all can be, once the world inside of us changes…It can happen. There's nothing stopping us but ourselves. We're all here to help inspire others and evolve our species. Just be yourself...play your part....and PLAY IT BIG! We literally change the world around us when we do.”(Stuart, The Past and The Present)

I must continue to improve my use of inquiry-based learning that meets the needs of each student. I must do a much better job of documenting my teaching processes in order that they can become duplicated and therefore scientifically validated. And I must definitely work on making the “rebelliousness” of my teaching less threatening and “different” to the parents. I email my parents daily, communicating the best I can the homework I have assigned and the purpose for it. I know I am going against their core values as to how education should be done, and at least one student is removed from my classroom in the beginning of each year by confused and anxious parents.

I will continue to develop individual lesson plans for each student, based on each of their individual needs. My biggest supporter, the teacher of the gifted class at my school, hopes I burn out and fail, before my successful methods become the new job requirement for all teachers. Therefore, my biggest responsibility is to not burnout, which I am dangerously close to due to a lack of knowledge as to how to teach smarter, and not just harder.

So, how do I teach smarter?

Stuart, A. Samurai Teaching, "The Past and The Present". http://samuraiteaching.blogspot.com/2008/01/past-and-present.html


The Past and The Present

Don't be in the past, either hurting or gloating.

Be in the present, living and loving.

- We all have so much to think about. Our minds are already filling up with all we have to do, and all the resolutions we want to keep this year.

This was my response to a friend wishing me well with my final semester of my masters:

Ahhhhhhhhhh! - classes begin 2morrow and I agreed to tutor 4 kids after school so I could pay for this semester - true test for me to close my eyes and envision a world of possibility, letting love emanate from every one of my cells to all those around me and all those back into me - (man surviving under harsh conditions – his evolution and very survival depends on it - and he can't do it alone)

We can't afford to live in the past, thinking about past disappointments or gloating about former achievements.

We learn from both types of experiences and move into the present moment.....the only moment where we have any power to make those resolutions come true.

There is no way to change the past by staying in it, but we can learn from it and change our lives in the present...right now, this very day.

And this makes every day a New Year's Day, and all the failures of the past can't change that. Our future is totally dependent on our ability to live in the present.

This was given to me by a friend. I think it goes very well with this write:

Go Over

Go Under

Go Around

or Go Through

....But never Give Up

- Unknown

*Here we're rockin out to the song at the end of a Bill Nye the Science Guy video....

And then getting to work on what we learned from it. Work Hard...PLAY EVEN HARDER! Our work is our play.

These pics were taken with my new digital camera - a Christmas gift from my students. I think they just wanted better shots of themselves :-)

They have given me something even greater, the gift of themselves. Together we have created a classroom of unconditional love, intense fun, and incredibly high academic growth. I may be tired by the end of the day, but every moment is worth it as I witness them changing into powerful, happy and independent learners.

Although my writings have decreased as my energy has dwindled, when I see the looks on our faces I have to share this....this......THIS is what IS possible. Can you imagine our tiny world being duplicated out over the planet? Our classrooms, work environments, and homes would all be incredible places to come to.

And it all can be, once the world inside of us changes.

It can happen. There's nothing stopping us but ourselves. We're all here to help inspire others and evolve our species. Just be yourself...play your part....and PLAY IT BIG! We literally change the world around us when we do. I'm just beginning to realize (trust?) how much I'm affecting others by giving them my best self. I know I am realizing how much they're affecting me.

Taneicea wrote me a letter over the break telling me all the ways I've helped her. She also gave me a ring. As I put it on next to the rings of my children, I realized she was part of my family now. They all are.

The fact that I love wearing the cap Skyler from last year gave me and still receive text messages from him shows me how much this is true (and not having to worry about how my hair looks is great :-)

A chance meeting with Belle from last year's class made me aware of something else. When you looked at me and almost shouted, "I'm not lying! I mean it", I was woken up from how much I'm still living in my own past, afraid to let anyone in. My heart opens out, but not in. Thank you Belle. I would love to share that story when I can create the time. I owe you for helping me learn to trust others again.

So until we "meet" again........Play hard today and give it your all! Focus on what could be versus what is. Get out of the past and into the Present......and change your life in 2008!