Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Glass of Positive Koolaid

There is a lot of YUCK in the media right now.  I open social media, turn on the news, read the paper and see a whole lot of YUCK.  
Then I see the people who are trying.  Trying to point out the GOOD.  Looking for the Positives.  Sharing the stories that create change for the better. 
Jon Gordon writes in his book The Carpenter
"When you see the good, look for the good, and expect the good, you find the good and the good finds you."  
Last year I had note cards made with the above quote on the front and a quote from Gandhi on the bottom of the backside.  
The intent of the cards were to send them as Thank You's to recognize people doing GOOD in and for our school.  Our student council started this with a bulletin board posted in our school's main entrance and positive student activities shared on the board.  It's quite easy to get sucked into the negative.  It's easy to point out what isn't going right, what went wrong, and failure.  
But, what if we focused on recognizing the GOOD, being the GOOD?  How could this change the negativity, what's posted in social media, what's shared in the news, and how we simply went about our days?  Can we be the change we want to see in the world by simply focusing on the GOOD?
A friend shared a TedTalk today by Shawn Achor.  Shawn has a theory about looking at success backwards.  Although the title of his talk is "Happy Secret to Better Work", he hits the nail on the head for life.  If we were to only look at life through  positive lenses, what would happen?

I'll be the first to admit I stink at this  some days.  Or, I put on a really positive front, when inside I'm dwelling on the negative and looking at the glass half empty. If I portray that negative I have inside, I'm not helping anyone else focus on the positive.  
So, my theory?  
Suck it up buttercup! Find and focus on the positive and then this incredible thing happens; my inside negativity begins to diminish the more I share the positive because those around me are also sharing in this positive.  
We make a climate change that begins to shift our culture.  
It's been called, "everyone drinking the same Kool-aid!" 
(Yes, it's been used as a negative meme, but here, we only see the POSITIVE)

There is plenty of YUCK in this world, in our days, and in our lives at every moment.  We do have a choice.  Get sucked into it and stick with the negative "Kool aid meme" as our culture know it, or Be the CHANGE, Be the GOOD, and share a glass of POSITIVE Kool-aid. 
    You decide.     

Drink the Kool-aid peeps.  Help others find the POSITIVE.  
Be the CHANGE.  Be the GOOD.    

Monday, June 27, 2016

You are not Chocolate.

If you have ever read any of the research on birth order, you will completely understand where I'm going with this, and let's be clear, I am both accepting of it while recognizing it's an area of growth.  It's unsettling to me when people aren't happy.  
More unsettling is when they aren't happy with ME.  It's important to me that others are pleased with me, with my decisions.  I feel this need to explain myself and rationalize in a manner that will make them "happy".  Wake-up Stac, You Are Not Chocolate.  It is completely, utterly, unREAListic.  
So BE REAL.   

My life has been full of change.  I've moved, re-married, changed jobs, had friendships come and go, grown up, and simply changed my mind.
There have been plenty of people "unhappy" with me and I don't like it, but I've come to accept it.

Friendships are tough.  I don't say this lightly, but as friendships have changed since elementary school, we grow to realize those relationships have a purpose and a season.  Some will see you through shorter seasons than others, while some will remain through thick and thin.  Either way, all friendships hold special memories and each have a special place in my heart; the happy times remembered.
As those memories are cherished, so are the relationships in the present, and those unknown, yet to come.

I chose education and school administration.  It is with certainty I won't make everyone happy in this profession!  It's the nature of the beast, but I know this, accept it, and will continue to make decisions based on my core values and the values of our school.  My work fuels my passion for education, lifelong learning, making a difference in a student's life, and watching others grow individually and as a team.  I'll take the good with the bad any day and simply accept what I can and cannot control.

Can anyone say they are able to make everyone happy?  If you can, please share your secret! :)
And if you can't, like the people I know, share how you've come to accept it.
For the past 6 years, this quote has hung on my refrigerator:
Choose your HAPPY.  ACCEPT that you can't choose for others.  Live in your REALITY. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Live Your Dreams

I consider myself a pretty transparent person.  Those who know me, know I don't hold much back.  I won't sugar coat it, but I will share my thoughts and give you my honest opinion based on my experiences and what I know.  I'll admit when I'm wrong, and I'll tell you when I don't know.  If it's a topic I'm especially passionate about, I may come off a bit strong, curt, or harsh.  My husband says it's my strength and curse together - stubborn as a mule.  
Today was no exception.  We started our staff meeting with our very first Twitter Chat - feel free to follow us @RothsaySchools #Shineontigers (sharing what we do as educators) #RothsayLead (Professional Development) - pushing ourselves to grow as educators.  We discussed school climate and culture - What does it look like?  What is Climate?  What is Culture?  How do you define it?
Then we moved into the Mindset of the Month and 

"Are the habits you have today on par with the dreams you have for tomorrow?"   
"Everything you do on a regular basis today will determine your success tomorrow." 

Stephen Curry
It made my EYES WET.  In front of ALL of my teachers!  Then started one of those PASSION talks. The talks where my heart leads the way and I find myself emotionally vulnerable, but completely REAL.  
It started something like this: "Are you doing what it takes to LIVE YOUR DREAMS?  Are the climate changes we make today creating a culture where our students are encouraged to live their dreams?  Are we modeling these habits to help them with their success?  Are we making sure to recognize them as individuals with their own unique strengths and fostering an environment for them to develop those strengths? "
And then I got on my soapbox:  "We're in the midst of MCA tests right now.  The one GRADE we get from the state that is the summative assessment(which is not a best practice by the way, everything we've learned says the use of formative assessments helps us teach students best) of how well we've taught our students all year and the once chance for them to prove to everyone how much they know.  This one test is what our school will be graded on.  No pressure everyone!  And make sure your students know how very important this one test is so that when they score a 549(partially meets) instead of a 550(meets), they can emotionally destroy their worth because they "let everyone down" and now because they missed the reading test by one point, how are they ever going to pass the math test????  That my friends is how our value is measured as a school.  Our report card is based on how many of our students Meet or Exceed on their MCA tests(oh, and a great deal of other factors and formulas based on sub groups, standard deviations, and percentages - yes, I'm completely snarky in my opinions at this point) in math, reading and science.  
What about the measurement of students who worked their tales off and did their very best?  How is growth measured for those students who simply overcame failure last year and tried their darndest(I know it's not a word, just something my Grandpa says) again this year because their teacher believes in them?  How are we measuring the students who took responsibility for some bad choices and fixed it because they want to do better? Is the 549 or the 550 going to matter when they graduate and go out to Live Their Dreams?  Do any of us remember what we scored?  Is it a reflection on the people we are today and the Dreams we are living out?  Each one of us in this school took a test at one point that determined our "value" and look at each one of us.  We each have a role that is making a difference in the life and DREAMS of a student.  Who would you hire in your workplace?  The student who scored the 550 or greater, or the student who was hungry to work, committed to making a difference in society, overcame failures and kept going, used their strengths to do what they are good at, was kind to others, practiced GRIT and was anxious to learn anything that would make them better at their job.  How do you measure that success?  Which will really help them live out their dreams?"

With all of that said, and forgive me because I couldn't remember word for word what I actually said, so technically I shouldn't have
"quoted" it, but I think you get the picture; I do practice and model the importance of MCA testing.  I get it, the state has to be accountable, and schools need to be accountable.  I just know there has to be a better way.  A way in which we recognize their social and emotional needs and measure them accordingly.  A way in which we value the hard work and growth of our students without putting them through the emotional torture of the one time snapshot of their worth through an MCA test.  They are WORTH so much more than what that one assessment shows.  We know better than this, so let's figure out a way to do better people.   

My point is this:  Let's not lose focus on the skills and character traits that lead to a successful, happy life in which our individual strengths are valued, embraced, and contributing to the better good of our society.  To quote Todd Whitaker "A follower won't cure cancer", but (and this is my own addition to the quote) if you are a follower, follow your hopes and dreams, use your strengths to make a difference you are passionate about.  

*End Soapbox* 
*Continue wet eyes throughout the day*

Friday, April 15, 2016

The 90/10 Rule

The 90/10 Rule:

The definition of balance is about as easy to define as the word normal.  We've all heard the only way to define normal is a setting on the washing machine.  Over the past couple years, the word balance is used in MANY conversations across the board; school, family, church, community, health and wellness, friends, leadership, self-time, the list goes on.  "How do you balance everything?"  "Where do you find the time?" "How do you prioritize it all?"

For what it's worth:
Define balance as you would normal; it is going to look, sound and feel different for everyone!  Jen Hatmaker uses the term seasons to describe the different stages of life we live.  Oh how SPOT ON she is.
In just this last week,
I've heard from my friends who are balancing life with infants and toddlers who need a lot from their moms and dads, and are growing and changing through stages by the day.  You don't want to miss a moment of it, but need to manage a healthy balance of "life stuff" that puts a roof over our head, food on the table and clothes on our back(that's what my grandpa would say)! :)
I've visited with my friends who are trying to figure out their hormonal teenagers and communicate with them in some form of language they understand.  Some days you wonder if they not only live in under your same roof, but do they live on your same planet???  This too shall pass... Treasure the moments, no matter how quick and quirky they may be.
My colleagues and I have discussed how we balance our time at work, living out our passions, with all of the responsibilities as parents and commitments to friends, family, spouses and even ourselves!
Let's not forget about the conversations about ME TIME?!?!  Does it exist in any other form than after 9pm and before 6am?  If you do find those rare moments, are you burdened with guilt because you are selfishly taking time to put your feet up and watch some Netflix instead of washing, switching, and folding the mounds of laundry that NEVER cease??
Another friend is struggling with the care of her aging parents and managing their health needs.  It's a different responsibility, a new season of life.  A commitment we make when the time comes, but one that's difficult to face and impossible to plan for.
I myself, am in the middle somewhere.  My season is busy schedules, activities, meetings, and appointments, while making time to enjoy being a family together; balance?  I'm just thrilled when I can end the day with 6 healthy children tucked into their beds, feet up beside my husband, and a glass of wine in hand(on occasion :)).  That means we balanced all that came our way that day and get to start again tomorrow!

That's how I make it work.  I'm responsible to be 90% in "the game"; school, home, friends, church, family, wherever I am, my focus level under that hat should be at 90%.  I reserve 10% for the other hats I wear.  I'm a mother, friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, wife, and more.  There is no possible way to be all of these one at a time, 100% of the time.  It's the 90/10 rule.  When I'm at work, I commit to give 90% of me.  The other 10% is reserved for my kids, family, friends, church, whatever makes it's way into that 10%.  When I'm at home, I'm a mom at 90%, but 10% of me is back at work, church meetings or social events.  When it's date night with my hubby, I promise him 90% of my attention.  There is no possible way that I can not think about my kids, work, and responsibilities at all.  That's my reality.  I find my balance through my 90/10 rule.
Now, to let you in a little further, there are days, times, and moments where I will be 100% in, or 50/50.  That's my reality.  Each day is a new day.  Any given day, I may need to put more of focus under one hat or another.  That's my reality.
I'm working on balancing my diet and exercise right now.  Measure my macros.  Exercise each day.  Make healthier choices.  Ugh, it's tough some days!  What makes it easier is surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people with similar goals.  Some days are better than others, but that's how I find my balance.
There's no right way to find balance.  Do what works for you, and don't feel guilty about it.  God gave us each unique strengths for a reason.  We can't do it all alone.  We wear a ton of hats.  Give it your best under each hat, but grant yourself some Grace when your performing under the other hats you own.  God grants us this.
Some days I slip below 90.  It's not my plan, nor do I stay there, but it happens.  That's my reality.  There are days I give less of myself to my kids, husband and home.  But, I grant myself Grace and focus on doing better.
Tomorrow I leave for 36 hours with friends - girl time.  My thoughts will still be with my kids, husband, and school.  It's simply how I function. I think about my students, my children, my family and friends.  I think about my responsibilities at work, home, and the community.  My students always cross my mind.  My kids are always on my mind.  But I allow myself 10%.

How do you find your Balance? I'd love to hear from you, as this is a common struggle for many.  Have you tried the 90/10 rule in your life?  What's working and what's not working?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Do Better & Be Mindful

Do Better & Be Mindful
I keep a bright yellow note card attached to my computer with these words.  Surrounding myself with positive people, strong leaders, and motivating words brings out the better in me.  It's amazing what the right words can do to get you going each day.  Some of my favorite resources/authors are

Sarah Young(Jesus Calling)
John Maxwell "A little bird told me"
Jim Collins
Jon Gordon
Toby Mac
Jen Hatmaker

As I listed the above, you will have no problem entering their names into your search engine and finding a great deal of reading materials; my list could go on further, as I really enjoy inspirational reads.
These readings help me to be Mindful.  
To reflect on my actions and words.
To strive for better.

The people I don't have listed are those who are much closer to me in the form of friends, family and colleagues.  These wise people have a physical and emotional presence that encourages mindfulness and a want to do better.  I won't list their names, as they are each on their own individual journey, but some have blogs, some use social media to reach out, others leave an impact through their daily actions.  

Each one of us continues on our own journey.  What if we worked each day to Do Better & Be Mindful?

I begin to blog again as I've been reminded lately that our
Beliefs, Blessings and Babblings(sometimes we all just need a good babble session) all have a place in defining who we are.

I will reference those who inspire me.  I may share a story from those I spend the most of my time with.  I may quote other's profound wisdom.  I will write about my Beliefs(and am entitled to my own beliefs; they don't have to be yours).  I will celebrate my Blessings.  And I will let myself Babble.  It's my Blog and I'll Babble if I want to! :)