Being told, "I love you", by someone is hopefully different than them also saying that they love a certain food or movie. Love to me is unquestionably the greatest and most sacred of all emotions, and should be developed as deeply as possible.
In its depths we hold the molecules of the world in our hands, the very creation of life. If we are able to love ourselves unconditionally, regardless of whether the world loves us back or not, we are able to listen to our own honest thoughts and true feelings....and use them to guide our own actions.....and create the life that we were meant to live, regardless of what others say or the roadblocks and obstacles life throws in our way
Unconditional love for and deep belief in ourselves makes us truly unstoppable. Only then can we hope to powerfully help others become unstoppable themselves; our children, our students, our friends and family, our husbands and wives....our neighbors....our homeless
And if we are able to truly love others and believe in them .....con tutto mio cuore, tutta la mente, tutto mio spirito, tutta mia anima .......... con tutto universo….......ti amo (with all my heart, all my mind, all my spirit, all my soul.......with all of the universe.......I love you ~ whispered to my children as they sleep and wake)..... Oh! Sweet Maria! The life that is created...the light that shines in the eyes.......the love that pours from the hearts.....even in the most difficult and challenging times...
...And at this exact point the world changes for the better.....when love is given when it's hard to give.........when real love exists, because it's been deeply developed, either through being deeply loved, deeply unloved, or a combination of both..........when love is patient and kind, not rude and selfish....when love never comes to an end (Corinthians).
But in its shallowness, life is allowed to slip through our fingers and is largely wasted.
In love's absence......life is destroyed, our own as it's filled with hate and anger, despair and self-doubt.......and others' lives as the depth of our dark and negative emotions cause us to lash out and take from life what life hasn't seemed fit to give us, often by trying to rob others of their possessions, their confidence, their reputation, their smile, etc.
Feeling something to your very core can make you very powerful. As our hearts have become emboldened by our academic successes, we have more courageously sought out our remaining areas of failure in class. And emotion has deepened.
The Strength of Shawn is a future write about no longer letting failure stop you, and becoming 100% determined to overcome it.
Not Without Nick is about the development of class unity. As our normally perfect attendance has been devastated by sickness, I realized just how much the class has bonded. Dodinsky's signed poem and picture arrived and when I tried to take a class picture the class said in unison and very clearly to me, "Not without Nick!", who was the only one absent that day.
The Rise of Raymond, Sandria's Selflessness, Martin & Lewis (how Chad and Luis remind me of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis - and how their fun and humor actually helps us learn), The Flow of Florencia, The Last Man Standing (Miguel who once placed last in the class in some areas, now leads), and many others.
........I think each one of them, as they are truly developing the courage to give me their best, are also giving me the titles to a future book on successful education.
And one more, The Tears of Taylor........She did not do as well on a math test as she had wanted. She gave her best, and it wasn't as good as she had hoped. And it hurt.............She deeply wanted to do well, to succeed. Her eyes were filled with tears....
I have been sick myself. I've been coming home and crawling upstairs to bed for a week. On Friday I was too sick to go to my daughter's birthday party or have my children spend their weekend with me. Sunday was the first day I could get out of bed, and while cleaning off a forgotten grave at the cemetery I fainted and hit my head on the tombstone, coming to by Shanghai licking my face.
Taylor's tears woke me up too. Feeling sorry for someone doesn't do them any good. It only keeps them in the miserable place they're in. Feeling strong for them is critical to helping them become stronger. I had to feel strong enough to help her. And there is no "try", there is only "do", especially when it comes to the dreams of a child. So I dug deep for love.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.”
Looking deep into her eyes, I told her I would help her overcome this failure on both our parts, and told her I would do it because I loved her for who she was and everything she could and is becoming.
Without looking away from her I told the class the only problem I could see was that I had an entire class of Taylors that I felt an equal amount of love for, and with my current health, doubted for the first time in eight years of teaching my ability to help everyone equally. I told them I needed them like never before. For this to work everyone needed to become even better at knowing how to develop their own lesson plans, seek out people and resources that could help guide their learning, and see others who needed help.
Two days later we retested, with the average score increasing by over an entire letter grade, including Taylor's. In our failure, and at a time when it was difficult to keep going, we found success.
Two weeks ago, after my son's hug brought me back to life and on my way to hold Sofia in my arms for our date night, I got a phone call. A very angry man who has been threatening me for a long time unleashed a barrage of negative and very deep emotion on me.
With one raised hand I give the world my heart and with the other I give it the finger.
Life can kiss my lips or kiss my butt.
I say this not to people. I don't give them the finger simply because they don't like me or even hate me. I say this to the conditions of life that can stop us from living fully.....failure, self-doubt, heartache, anger, hate, etc....
Hate cannot be overcome with hate....feeling great love at my very depths has given me visions of entering dark places, blackened out from any light......allowed to enter without suspicion because I know darkness, know what it's like to be filled with hurt, anger, hate, despair....total darkness
Someone once said that when you find yourself going through hell....keep going! Wallowing in self-pity or numbing yourself from the pain with addictions like sex, drugs, alcohol, TV, etc only keeps you in hell. Only by becoming strong enough to refuse accept what your life has become and accepting responsibility for your part in its creation can you overcome the hell you're in. No more excuses! If life hasn't given you what you want, you can do what many do, and try to take from life, usually from the lives of others.
This is what this guy was trying to do. Take from life what life hasn't given to him. As I listened I had this vision of entering hell again.....
As I come in the room I am seen as one of them and approach easily. And as they talk of the destruction they're going to unleash on the world today, the lives they're going to take......my own mouth twists into an evil grin, as I grip the handle of my sword, and tell them to start with mine....because today.....THEY die
I begin the battle within myself not to sacrifice it, but to save it. I don't see myself as a savior to anyone other than myself. Only then can I hope to help others take more control of their own lives. I don't think any of us can truly be saved when we look outside of ourselves for someone (i.e. "If I only had someone that loved me - human and/or deity" v. "If I only loved the human and deity inside myself more") or something ("Drugs (legal and illegal) are OK because they help me feel better.")
Even the idea of God has to become so internalized that we see him living inside of ourselves. Every one of my cells tells me we are more powerful than we have been led to believe, and God, Allah, the Universe is saying, "Yes! Incredible living and freedom is not meant for the few, but FOR ALL! See the beauty inside of yourself and you begin to see it in each and every person. Thank Me...I mean God, no, I mean Me, that you finally got it."
“Love knows no limit to its endurance no end to its trust, Love still stands when all else has fallen - 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 -”
As I was listening to this man tell me everything that was wrong with me I began thrusting my sword into the bodies of anger and self-doubt, cutting off the heads of anger and rage before they could take control of and kill me.
And then I heard him say "mailbox" and thought I heard him say "bomb"....and I exploded in a roar, "Don't you dare pretend to have the balls to come after me, and then not have the courage to look me in the eyes when you take me out."
My thesis has been approved, quadrupling my work load, leaving me hardly any time to answer my email or phone, or respond to comments left on my blogs, which I love to do since I don't look at it as the adam stuart blog, but a drama-free way to share and spread positive ideas, building upon each other's thoughts and inspirations to create real solutions to today's problems.....so many of which seem to begin with the ability to have Inner Strength
(I was in class during the eclipse Wednesday night, but took this outside the UCF library a few hours later)
Dodinsky's picture/poem arrived for the class. The class was very excited and Kristen found a perfect and very unique place for it. After sharing that poem and his "Gem Stone" poem, Sandria made a "We Read Dodinsky" sign and we're taking the picture today.
I received so much energy (and hugs) from readers over the weekend that when I opened the classroom door Tuesday morning and asked the kids if they knew what today was, thanks to all the "life" the wonderful people mentioned in "We Can't Do It Alone" gave us and the results of last week's test scores........"It's a Dream Big and Do Big day!" rang out in the hallway.
"Oh it's much more than even that. Today is going to be the best day of our lives. How's this going 2 happen?", I asked.
"Because you're going to make it happen, Mr. Stuart!"
"Mr. Stuart can only make it happen for Mr. Stuart. How is today going to be the best day of YOUR life?"
"Because I'm going to make it happen", many voices shouted.
"OK. But it's important to really make it happen. You can't just dream big, you have to actually DO big. What did Marc Mero say about setting goals? Come on in and write out your greatest needs in each subject. Create your own lesson plan and do big by working on those needs, and you WILL be bigger at the end of THIS day than you are right now. "
.....and then added, "And make sure you have fun doing it.....", as I played "Make Em Laugh" from the movie "Singin in the Rain"
Mix them Together and You Have a Great Day!
....I received the energy to do this in large part from being sent hugs from John Broken Eagle's readers. It was his birthday and something he had read of mine caused him to ask his readers to send me hugs...on HIS birthday....on his birthday......
What a concept! What an idea! And what an effect it had on me.......
I don't really understand how I deserved such a gesture....but the timing was perfect as it was Sofia's weekend with her mother and my other two were in Dallas at a competition, causing me to do something I rarely do....worry about what I didn't want to happen versus think only on what I DID want to happen
......So without knowing it, all those hugs held me together until Tuesday, when Brosden and Bella gave me some of the biggest hugs I've ever felt...making me realize what John's unselfish act had done for me....
Last Friday I told God that if he took anything else I loved away, if he didn't bring my children back safely, I was going straight to Heaven and bringing Hell with me, and He knows that I meant it (the shadow over my face reminds me of the constant battle within of light over dark).
I don't do good things trying to get into Heaven, let alone for the approval of my fellow man (which seems like worship). I do good things because good things need to be done. And it doesn't matter if I've damned myself to Hell in the process by questioning and challenging God himself.
What matters is that I unselfishly create Heaven on Earth while I'm here on Earth......without trying to get something from someone else (love, validation, etc) or trying to convince God I'm "good enough" to get into Heaven........and if it means trading my future in Heaven to give it to people living in Hell right now, especially children.........and being fully aware of what I am costing myself.....I open my hands and heart and freely release it in the trade.......The trade of a life for more life in the lives of others.
If God wants to punish me later...then punish me...I only ask He not punish children now.....
God likes me a lot. He's proud of me and even impressed with how much life I've put into my living........I've just broken the "rules" once too often in the hopes of fixing the broken part of people's lives He seems to have forgotten or is too busy to see.
Maybe if we adults would grow up and stop messing up the world, He would have more time to focus on the children.......I truly believe this can be done.
(Explaining to Louis why he wasn't chosen to be God...Instead of creating the world in 7 days, Louis would have blown it up 7 times a day)
....My nickname for him is "Big Fun"...all I ask in return is that he produce Big Results, which he has repeatedly done)
I'm not a slave to other peoples' opinions or to the religion of some God "out there".
I am a servant to the God inside us all, and a conquerer of the Devil inside of myself.
And this weekend as I worried about the safe return of my children, and got myself "fired" from being God's "apprentice" once again.....I stayed positive around others....and ended up receiving more positive comments than ever, in large part from John Broken Eagle's unselfish act.
He has created an internet family, and without knowing it, they wrapped their loving arms around me just when I needed it most, and I thank everyone who "sat with me" while I waited for the safe return of my children.....my direct connection with all things good.....all things God.
You know Adam, I was just writing in some one's blog who pimped out the best poems he has read on MySpace, none of mine were on that list. In the past I would've questioned my own writing, then I realized it was just someone's opinion and everything that he listed were things that, well weren't about real life. And I wrote as a comment that as long as I can touch just one person with my writing, then I feel like I have achieved. This blog is a classic example of why you are a role model and proof that blogs don't have to be about the drama that they are about on here. There are people on here seeking quality and special people like yourself and Teri...so glad I've encountered you both.Posted by Tarringo T.
I feel the same way - when I teach I want 2 reach ALL the students...when I write, I want 2 reach one person, even if that one is me......and it truly doesn't matter if 1000 people reject you, if your writing has been accepted by one soul who wouldn't have been reached otherwise.
You have done that for at least me and Raymond and several other students in the class. You're very special Tarringo. Whether or not the entire world sees that doesn't change this. Unfortunately, those that don't see it, are not changed for the better by you.
Tarringo T. Vaughan
(his picture of her didn't transfer)
No! No! I will not give up my seat on this bus
My feet hurt so there's no more left to discuss
I've sat up many restless nights
As my people struggled for their civil rights
My eyes have seen too much torture
Cast upon those who share my same culture
I'm worn out and tired of being afraid
My bones ache of distraught and with that being said
No! No! I will not give up my seat on this bus
I want to enjoy this ride just the same and thus
You will no longer take advantage of my skin
Because in life that is the very sin
That thou shall not cast hate on another
For we are all created equal to each other
My old hands have felt too much defeat
On these storied barren streets
So no I won't give up my seat on this bus
My name is Rosa Parks, and I'm tired of making this fuss
©Copyright 12/07 Tarringo T. Vaughan
"Happy Kenny Day", when the class had learned to appreciate his amazing capacity for love so much that they renamed Valentines Day in honor of his great heart. (Kenny coming back this year to visit....and with great joy and emotion as I write this.......INSPIRE!...without even trying.)
And "My Great Historical Figure" , where after he had been home sick for a week the comments showed how important he was to us:
(This year's class - pictured here with Kenny - know all about him and his accomplishments. At one point last year when we were both just fed up with each other, I looked him in the eyes and told him he was more important to the world than he knew, and that if he would just give me his best he would see it too.
Together we would make the world a better place beginning by making HIS life better than it already was....so much better that he would inspire the world more than he already did. )
Impossible growth and success rarely comes from individual effort. We can do it, but rarely can we do it alone. And if we do do it alone, won't that be sad as we're standing there all by ourselves?
(Kristen hugging me with tears of joy running down her face. You'll see why below)
This is some of Kenny's story........
My Great Historical Figure
After the parents left and the students went to lunch, I had an idea. (Oh, I was dressed as a biker. When I got to school Tricia in the office (a fellow motorcycle rider) said "Ah, you're dressed as a biker". Thinking of the shirt and tie I had waiting for me in my classroom, the fun side of me said "Yes, that's right." And I got to wear my "costume" all day long :-).
If teachers enjoy teaching and have fun doing it, the students are more likely to enjoy learning and have fun doing it. And I just really, really, really wanted to wear my biker costume.
When I brought the students back from lunch I told them there was one more presentation. I had my own great historical figure to talk about.
"Ladies and Gentlemen. I am up here to tell you the story of a great person. My name is Kenny and this is my story. My life changed way back in the 5th grade, when I was put in a regular classroom and I was seen as a regular student by my teachers. I used to think Mr. Stuart was being mean to me sometimes, but I realized he loved me all the time. He and Ms. Wilson saw me as having the same great potential to have the same great life as anyone else. They believed that I could develop talents and abilities and end up giving the world something so phenomenal, making the world such a better place, that I would be remembered forever."
"Kenny, come up here and help me tell your story."
"You're talking about me? But why?"
"Because this is the Kenny I see; the Great Kenny, The Amazing Kenny, The Best Kenny possible."
"Rise with me! There has never been someone exactly like you. The world will never again see anyone exactly like you. Give the best of yourself to the world. See the Great Kenny I see!"
"I see it!"
Ms. Wilson, who also works with Kenny, showing how proud she is of him. You're a great teacher Ms. Wilson. Together with his incredibly loving mother, we are all affecting this child's life in a powerfully positive way. We are doing our jobs.
posted by Adam Stuart at Friday, November 03, 2006
What will you and I do that will last forever? Historically the chances are, not much. About 90% of us will stop dreaming and doing big, and as a result not ever becoming as big as we were meant to be.
But 100% of us are all gifted. And it's time to develop those gifts and share them with the world.
I say this and "hear" this inside of me because I have seen just this week how bringing others' gifts into the classroom has helped me reach my students just when I, and THEY needed it most.
After the students had left this past Thursday my son came in and took this pic of me. For a week I've been dealing with a lot, including Shanghai's owner wanting him back. (The day after I posted "Our Love Makes Us Immortal", mentioning maybe Shanghai is my path to learning to trust that not everything I love will be taken away...I got an email saying she wanted him back)
And during the week there had been lying and cheating, skipping school, students giving up and not giving their best, etc.
We all are going to mess up and do stupid things out of anger, fear, panic, pain and self-doubt. If we can't learn to overcome and resist these as children, chances aren't good that we will as adults, when everything gets harder and heavier.
Our children NEED US to have the strength to keep believing in them and not letting go of the high expectations we know they can achieve. (Nick and Shawn, runner-up and first place DARE essay finishers posing with Deputy Drake)
Brosden showed me how terrible I looked and asked what was wrong. When I told him I had just run out of smiles and hugs, he said, "Here, take one of mine", and gave me a such a big hug I literally felt it all the way to my heart (proving that it is true when we give unselfishly and purely we create more giving in return).
We can't accomplish great things alone, and I can't thank others enough.....Officer Deputy Drake, the DARE officer who motivated a very rare 100% participation FOR THE 2ND YEAR IN A ROW,
...My fellow 5th grade teachers, who take my kids once a week for skill rotation, and especially Ms. Bruce, who teaches my son; Mrs. Blackmore, who makes extra coffee for me and whose husband signed his Disney artwork with an inspirational message; Mrs. McNally, who puts up with our banging and loud noises; and Mrs. Gryna, who tutors one of my students and as the school's Teacher of the Year will be representing us to the county.
....Mrs. Lyons, a 4th grade teacher who helped me reach a 5th grade student who wasn't even mine, inspiring the chapter title called "Every Effective School Has a Lyon" for a book I'm working on
....Ms. Mosley and Mr. Pollock, the PE teachers who brought former professional wrestler Marc Mero and his program, Champion of Choices, to our school (Ms. Mosley pictured to Marc's right).
....as well as parents who have given us their time and energy (Mrs. Mason, Mr. Bullard, Mr. & Mrs. Dolsak, Mr. & Mrs. Gaffin, etc).
...And people who don't even know these students who have either directly given something or indirectly by allowing me to share something I've read of theirs that with the class:
Some of these are Liz (SWAT shirts), Serenity (books and Kristen), Marc Mero (class/school visit, inspirational quotes and his signed Dream Big pics of himself, Mohammad Ali, and President Jimmy Carter which can be seen in the Deputy Drake pic with Nick and Shawn)
Alexandra (quote), Brian Blackmore (signed Dream Big artistic work), Robert (poem), Jeff (sending us his book), Tui (Christmas cookies), Red (poster) Dodinsky (something special arriving early next week) and Tarringo (his poem, "Miss Parks", in my hands being read to the students....
....which made even those working elsewhere stop what they were doing and listen intently......this is what engaged students look like....and grabbing their minds AND hearts is what engagement is all about
.....and the key to helping them produce greater results than they have ever produced before! (Raymond had perhaps the best week of school in his life....and I know Tarringo's poem played a part in that)
After my son's hug brought me back to life on Thursday, taking Sofia to her current favorite Date Night With Daddy hangout (Congo River Golf - Sofia wearing Manager Dave's hat), and nearly falling asleep at the wheel on my drive home, I logged on MySpace to keep my promise to answer an email. I saw Tarringo had written me and I opened it wanting to thank him for allowing me to share his poem and excited to tell him the effect it had on the class.....
....and do you know what his message was to me?....That he had included me in a post about positive role models......I didn't know what to say. I just kept hitting the "..........." button, feeling completely overwhelmed.
I'm still stunned by the irony.
(Shaking my head awake - Now where was I? Oh!)
It's the teacher's job to reach ALL his students. Whether or not it's the teacher himself doesn't matter. What matters is if he or she is failing to reach the students, by God he better find somebody who can.
I plan on writing more about so many of you. You have thrown your rock in our pond, and the rippling effects it has had have been extraordinary.
Just as you don't stop lifting a weight when it gets "too heavy", we don't give up on our children just because they are difficult to reach! When we hold on and keep "lifting" UNTIL we find a way.......THAT'S WHEN GROWTH and INCREASE IN STRENGTH and ABILITY HAPPENS!
We MUST do the things we think we cannot do - Eleanor Roosevelt
Throughout history so much emphasis has been placed on looks. Being attractive to someone is wonderful. I love good-looking people. Eleanor was not. Yet besides my grandmother, she and Mother Theresa are the most meaningful and beautiful women in history to me.
So thank you all from the bottom of my heart, because that's exactly where I was this week, at the very bottom of what was left. I want your beauty to be shared with the world as much as it has been shared with us.
You have helped us hold on for just one more day when we felt like giving up, giving us the strength to give the heroic effort needed that produced the shouts of jubilation and tears of joy from improbable success the next day.
(Kristen above telling Serenity about her success. She actually ran barefoot that morning to catch the bus to keep a promise to Serenity that she wouldn't miss any more school. I don't know what was said between the two, but Kristen was crying tears of joy and very touched afterwards.)
May God and Buddha and Mohammad all cover you in as many blessings as they have in talents and gifts, realized and yet to be developed.........especially the gift of caring for and loving children you have never met.
The greatest gift and strongest muscle is the heart, and I love and thank you all for yours. (Kelly, who along with Nick tied for the highest Science class test grade, celebrating with Kristen who received her highest test score ever!)
When I told Kenny that when I called next week expecting his teacher to tell me he was giving him his best, Kenny replied, "Don't worry Mr. Stuart, I won't let you down!".......I once again felt covered in his love and beauty...covered in his gift of the heart...and I felt that I could go on believing in myself and others for at least one more week...that IT DID matter...that IT DID make a difference....
....giving me the strength to mean it when I say back to him ...And don't worry Kenny, I won't let YOU down. I won't give up!
You breathe life back into me.....
And this is why Kenny deserves his own holiday....This is HAPPY KENNY DAY from last year
Kenny's is his ability to love, to make others feel better, to enrich their lives with a pureness of honesty, an innocence of love and a bravery to show it that so few of us have the power to take into adulthood.
Here's an actual conversation between the two of us:
"You're funny Mr. Stuart" (I can't remember what I did to make him say this)
"Aiy! That I am. And do yoo know why Kenny?" (said in my Scottish accent)
"No. Tell me."
"Because I am happy. I am a happy man."
"Why are you a happy man, Mr. Stuart? See, you're being funny again."
"Aiy that I am! I am happy because YOO are in my class. YOO make mah day good. YOO fill it weeth love, and weeth joy."
"That yoo do. And very well at that. I want tah thank yoo fah dooin' thees Kenny. Yoo make mah life betta', and yer important to me."
"Ahh, no problem Mr. Stuart. I love you."
"And I luv yoo rite back, weeth every bit of me. Now let's get tah work on developin' that grate mind uv yoors."
Kenny's great power is his ability to love. In honor of this the class gave him his very own holiday last month, renaming Valentines Day "Happy Kenny Day".
pictures to follow...as soon as I can find where I downloaded them and on which computer....every one has a gift, and organization ISN'T mine. That's why you don't focus on being better than others; instead you surround yourself with others better than you. Fortunately for me this isn't hard :-)"
- Adam Stuart (November 2006)