Chapter Two: Begin With a Bang ~ Real Change, Real Fast

It only took 2 days to make someone cry this year. Dreaming Big can only lead to Doing Big if those big thoughts are backed by Big Emotion.

Emotion drives action. Otherwise it's just wishful thinking. And if it's not positive emotion it's poison, and we need to get that poison out of them right away.

On Tuesday this student was making the same mistakes he made on Monday like not doing his work, goofing off, etc. (photo 1 - see below for description)

I barked at him about making the same mistakes as he did the day before, bellowing out:

"You don't make the same mistakes over and over in this class. You grow from your mistakes in here.

What you did yesterday is over. Today you are MORE than you were yesterday.

And tomorrow you WILL BE more than you were today!

I don't just say this stuff. I mean it! And you will too!
" (photo 2)

I noticed tears coming to his eyes. I saw that he was feeling deeply, and instead of feeling sorry for him, I could see that it was time to switch from the hammer (which breaks what's holding the poison in) to the hug (which squeezes it out). And humor is a good way to travel from one to the other. (photo 3)

So I said, "I see. I see. You're crying tears of happiness, saying 'Oh my! Look at how much this man believes in me. Look at how much he loves me. I know this because he refuses to accept anything less than my best.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free from my limitations at last!!!!!

I smiled at him and while the rest of the class went back to work I pulled up a seat and asked what difficulty on the project was causing him to give up. After we overcame what was holding him back I told him how he NEVER gives up when he's stuck. He may have to ask for help but he never gives up and starts goofing off. And that as long as he kept doing this, everyday he WOULD be becoming more than he was the day before. (picture of MLK and former student I know parents wouldn't mind)

To be fair to him, I got this project from the gifted teacher, who told me I could lower the requirements for my non-gifted students. I smiled at her and said I would lower nothing, and that the students would have to do the rising. (photo 4)

To be even more fair to him, he's ESE, or Exceptional Ed, and supposedly learning "disabled" to do a gifted project.

And to be really fair to him, I held him to these high standards anyway. Setting the bar low only allows someone to rise to a low height. If you get him to reach for the stars, with accommodations that allow him to overcome his limitations, at worst he'll end up on the moon. (photo 5)

***And on day three of this new school year, this same "goof off" came in and worked with such a different attitude AND ability that you would have thought he WAS a gifted student.

As long as he keeps doing this big, he will BECOME this big, and the world will be changed by his presence. That's real change, real fast. (photo 6)

Next - Chapter Three: Victory Over Victimization

Descriptions of Photos:

PHOTO 1 - Brosden reflecting after seeing the prehistoric Serpent Mound, the largest and most mysterious of its kind in the US

PHOTO 2 - Sofia and I outside Lincoln's cabin

PHOTO 3 - Sofia's eye. She and Bella are always experimenting with the camera. Yesterday they filmed their first webisode for their new webshow. They were inspired after watching webshows created by students in my class this year.

Most of us see things and say, "I wish I could do that." A few of us do it. This year in my Homeroom I have many gifted students who after watching Nickelodeon's "iCarly.com" show created their own. I haven't seen it yet but one group said they impersonated me on this week's show. I thanked them for inspiring my own daughters and used it as proof that what we do DOES affect the world around us. It's our job to make sure that affect is positive.

PHOTO 4 - Everytime I turned around Sofia was doing something that made me laugh. There was no fighting, only fun, and the trip was really fantastic. Thank you kids for being the best travel partners ever.

PHOTO 5 - This student (that I'm hopefully hiding enough of) was from a few years ago. It's funny because I was just referring to him while talking to a parent about how he went from F's to A's on spelling tests by trying one unlimiting accommodation after another over 6 months. If you're a long-time reader you might remember him and the pictures of me with tears in my eyes as he told me how he, ON HIS OWN at home, refused to give up and tried something he remembered doing with me at the beginning of the year.

It was what we were doing in this picture, separating the vowels from the consonants to make sense of the word. Soon after he started making this 180 degree turnaround in school, his family was forced to move due to poor economics. The last thing I said to him at the door was that he had begun to develop the power to break this cycle of poverty for himself and his future children, that the change HAD begun, and he needed to keep it happening.

PHOTO 6 - Bella and I at Lake Erie, Ohio, teaching her how to skip stones, just like my grandfather taught me. The kids were so excited to see family that I drove straight through from Florida, and was too tired to change into my swim trunks when I got there.


The Treasures of Tomorrow

Well here it is. It's time to start another year. Time to spend time pushing myself and this new group of students I'll meet today to the edges of our limits, what we're currently capable of.........holding on during the shaking, complaining and stretching of our minds and mentalities......then smiling as we look around and see we've come to a new place of new possibilities.......and then pushing ourselves to our new limits.......and repeating the process

But each time with one or two students pushing themselves this time which not just lightens the load but begins to create a synergistic energy field between us that allows us to keep going until everyone has learned to spend their time creating themselves into these beautiful and capable people, powerfully and positively creating the futures they desire v. staying stuck in the present realities they despise or have come to accept as just their lot in life......a kind of self-imposed societal class system.

One of those students called me yesterday to tell me how excited she is to have been placed in advanced classes for middle school. Last week that's all I heard as students from last year came to visit during pre-planning. Former "below" and "average" students are now considered advanced and "advanced" students are now considered "accelerated".

Isn't it powerful how just ONE YEAR spent learning how to really believe and do big can lead to such big changes in so many lives? Isn't it proof that this can happen to ANYONE who practices doing it consistently, and that ANYONE can consistently make it happen for themselves and others?

I guess it's all in how we spend our time. Do we spend it believing in ourselves or doubting? Do we champion ourselves and others or complain and criticize about ourselves or others? Do we spend our time taking actions that will make us grow, or do we spend it justifying why we can't?

When we go to the grocery store we spend our money on what we want. The more money we spend on foods that are good for us the healthier we become. When we go about our day all we need to do is spend our thoughts on what we want, on what's good for us. This will lead us to taking the actions that will bring about what we want and what's good for us into our lives.

It's really that simple.....and it's really our choice whether it's easy or difficult to do.
If it's difficult think of it as a new language to learn; How to speak and listen to yourself and others. It's a language I'm continually practicing because I always have room to grow and improve.

Thinking "I don't have time" is insane yet one of my own most limiting thoughts. And because I think this I constantly don't have enough time. We all have time and we all have the same amount time no matter what our circumstance. In the 86,400 seconds of today we'll each have @60,000 thoughts. No one can tell any of us how to spend those thoughts. Since our thoughts create the actions that create our lives, each thought is literally more precious than gold, as our thoughts create the "gold", or what we value the most in our lives.

The trick is to value solutions over excuses, possibilities over impossibilities, love over hate, power over weakness, and horses over hamsters (I like horses more)

So good morning and good spending. May what you spend your thoughts and actions on today bring you the treasures you desire tomorrow. I'm going to help a group of kids see that they are indeed the treasures of tomorrow


Happy Birthday Bella

My Beautiful Bella Butterfly

You're turning 11 today and I can't help but say what a wonderful young girl you are in this world. I love you so much honey so much more than money. You are as funny and cute as a bunny. Our daily time together is floating away like a feather cuz you're in middle school now and I'm not sure how but it would put me in bliss to stop by everyday for a hug and a kiss.

All of my heart loves all of who you are

~ Daddy (aka Mr. Snuffles)
August 10, 2009

(I have no idea why she calls me Mr. Snuffles lately, but I like it. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and I got these two responses:

"Just your love, that's it."

"My b-day gift was Ohio, Mammoth Cave, the mood ring and the best one is you."

Sofia will sometimes look at me and say, "Daddy you're rich." When I ask her what she means she says, "You're rich in love." (This coming from a 7-year old!)

It took the hard lessons of two failed marriages for me to realize you can't find lasting love outside of yourself no matter how hard you search or how much you give. You must first find it within and give it to yourself. Then you are healthy enough to share it with another who also has found it within and given to themselves.

These are the healthiest of relationships and the ones that last, and it's the type my children and I share. The reason that happiness IS best when shared IS NOT because two needy people have come together in a type of codependent agreement of: "I'll love you if you love me." We know this doesn't last because it's dependent on another person always seeing us as loveable, who is also dependent on us always seeing and treating them lovingly.

It's like two dominoes (or peanut butter people) precariously perched against each other. As one falters so does the other. And before we know it the person we saw as "the one" is now the one calling us all sorts of names, and the "relationship" has fallen apart, which we usually walk away from a little more damaged and weaker than we were before, causing us to continue looking for "that next one" to save us or close up from ever letting "another one" in.

Parenting and teaching is such a great opportunity to develop the inner power and strength of self-appreciation and love in our young. And as we help others develop it we end up helping ourselves develop it too. What we transmit out into the world we receive.

The truth is you can't give what you don't have. How can you give belief and love to others if you don't have it for yourself? You can try, and we all have, but it lasts only as long as your unhealthy partner is giving it to you. When one stops, so do you eventually as they're no longer supplying the "gas" for your car.

So yes Sofia, Daddy is definitely rich in love, just as you, Bella and Brosden are. We have found the most valuable treasure in the world right inside of ourselves. It provides honesty, happiness, health, excitement, and the passion to pursue our purpose and to help others pursue theirs.

And as we share it with each other in this healthy relationship we've built with each other it grows in even greater abundance, only diminishing when we stop giving it to ourselves. That's why I won't let you play the victim Brosden. You're not in the "Little Hope Cemetery" we saw leaving Mammoth Cave.

Little hope? Those residents have NO HOPE! You are NOT dead and I won't let you take up residence in the cemetery of the walking dead. When you make a mistake get excited about the opportunity to learn from it and be more than you were that caused you to make the error.

How do you do this? You choose to believe you can. This involves loving yourself to see mistakes aren't who you are, only where you are. You're not a mistake. Learn from it and you're on your way to where you want to go and who you want to be.

And do it today! There ARE guarantees in life. It's called "Today". What you do with that guarantee is up to you. "Tomorrow" is not guaranteed.

OK. This has turned into a letter to my children. My very first post was for them and in truth I think every post in some way is for them as they get older. When we are young and covered in love, we completely believe we are gifts from above. I cover them in love because they are gifts. We all are gifts. But it's only when we find great love inside ourselves will we believe we will find the passion and strength to develop our gifts and worthy enough to give them to the world.

Cover yourself in love....cover yourself completely and believe in yourself unconditionally. Feel the youthful energy unconditional love provides, and then unleash yourself passionately out onto the world. (at the Palentine Hill where Roman civilization first began)


The Treasures of This Moment

Started responding to comments from "The Kisses of Life" blog and wanted to share

I remember a line from a movie I can't remember the title to, but it was, "Don't close your eyes to what life wants you to see." I believe one of these things is the treasures held in the moments of our lives.

"I wish that everyone who has a child in their lives (parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, anyone!...) was aware of every single moment being a treasure.... was grateful for all their moments. Too many (far, far too many!) people take their moments for granted." ~ Stevie Exxx

I lllllllllllike this! We all wake up the same exact way, whether we're struggling to survive or super successful....everyone of us starts the day by opening our eyes.

What happens after that determines what we see around us that day.......those who struggle and continue to struggle through life see the ugliness (the trash, the junk)....those who are successfully happy see the treasures

then what we see and focus our thoughts and actions on today brings more of that into our lives tomorrow....and so on and so on.....until we wake up to brand new and/or dominant worlds of realities that WE have been creating for ourselves day-by-day-by-day

Ur playful, positive and passionate spirit is a true treasure....and I am grateful for it existing in this world

(and I'm glad I'm so playful. I'm sure everyone around me was wondering, "What in dee blazes eez dis crazy guy doin'?" (not sure what country these people would be from), but I had sooooo much fun on this trip.

What people I don't know and will never see again think......or having the time of my life?

I pick having the time of my life!


and to another comment: "You are a very lucky man.... and it is so good that you know it- and acknowledge it daily." ~ jaibaiboo

Someone said........."That which we appreciate, we..........." I can't remember what he said, but it was good, something about bringing more of what we like and want into our lives by truly appreciating it, no matter how little of it we may have (at the time). To me appreciation is like sun, soil and water for a plant. It flows so freely and abundantly between the kids and I. And I love how it brings more happiness and laughter into our lives daily.

p.s. When things are difficult (they act like they're only 13, 10 and 7 sometimes) I tell them I don't get paid to be their father so quit making it difficult. On the boxes they each came in it said, "This child comes with a 'No Difficulty' guarantee".

I was lied to!!! Where's my money?!? Give me my paper! (and proceed to try and tickle it out of them or turn them upside down and shake it free)

This obviously puts us in a good mood to talk about whatever the problem is, which doesn't seem so frustrating and difficult to overcome anymore


and from Kat's comment: "Make as many wonderful loving memories with your kids as you can possibly fit into the day!! That is all I have left from my father... and thankfully we made enough good ones to last me the rest of my life..."

Thk u Kat - Besides visiting family and going canoeing, drive-in movie, lake erie, etc.......and seeing grandma bette and seeing grandma bette and seeing grandma bette (love her so much......very difficult saying goodbye).....we went to thomas edison's boyhood home, my boyhood home (showing them the house and walking and playing in the same backyard and woods I played in), abe lincoln's boyhood home (playing on his farm and in the same river he played in), the great serpent mound (built 4,000 years ago next to a crater caused by a meteor 300 million years ago), mammoth cave (where they jumped and danced), my brother and sister in n. carolina (2 great people), and hilton head (where we went last year and relived memories of our gelatto shop and the beach) before coming home

after the kids went back to their mothers i felt like i had woken up in the hospital all drugged up and out of it, but smiling because of all the happy memories i knew we had created together

life will be over before we know it.....how much life can we put into living b4 that happens?

(standing on the spot where my ancestor Charles I was executed 350 years ago in London. I look none too happy....and I wasn't. My hands were clenched into fists under my arms. I was feeling very powerful emotions for some reason while visiting his palace (The Banquet House)


and 2 my children, I dedicate this song. My little loves, I truly fall in love with you more day-by-day, and as Red's song said in her video, "You set me free", as the awesome power of love tends to do.

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