Tag Archives: School

Back To School Intents

shutterstock kids
Last week, after dropping Leela off to her first day of 4
th grade at school, I came home and a wave of exhaustion, relaxation, elation and depression all hit at once. My 7th grader, Tara, started a new Middle School two weeks earlier.

Back to school bliss or back to school blues?! I couldn’t decide. 

We had had an adventurous summer, with lots of friends and family visiting us. But we also truly relaxed, enjoying days with no schedules. My summer intent for my kids was to let them get bored – rather than sign up for camps, we did a few classes and they spent the days at home figuring out what to do. They read, they watched television, played video games, painted, wrote, and hung out. I let their minds wander, aimlessly, happily, with no agenda.

Yet, within hours of them back in school, I was on my calendar, scheduling after school activities, logistics of two different drop offs and pickups, work commitments. I found myself mentally scheduling time to relax with our new Fall schedule! Why does it seem inevitable that our modern life gets us busy again? I find that despite trying not to get my kids too busy, the homework/music lessons/sports/friends life balance already seems an untenable goal.

As I begin the Fall, I decided to set some Back To School intents for me and my kids.

So here goes:

My intent is to meditate regularly.
This is top priority for me. And if I can commit to it, and show my girls through my example its value, I believe they will want to do it as well. I love meditating with my girls. We sit together in our favorite spots in the living room, we cuddle a bit, talk about the day, close our eyes, meditate, and then set intents for the week or day.

My intent is to make sleep a priority in our life.
My girls are growing, and need their sleep. For the last few months, we have been able to sleep without waking up with an alarm clock. I know the health and emotional benefits of good sleep, and don’t want to compromise on this for our family. We have an early morning schedule now, so if it means compromising some activities, that’s ok. Sleep is more important.

My intent is to focus on nourishing foods.
I just completed a two week cleanse, and for the first time since I can remember am feeling good without my cookies, ice cream, brownies, and heavy carb-filled pastas, pizza’s etc.

Also, while writing my book, Living With Intent, I was more mindful of my eating habits and why I was choosing the foods I consume. I realized that I am passing on my own eating habits to my kids. Once again, if I can guide them through my own example and through the changes in our meals at home, I hope I can teach them better habits.

My intent is to be flexible.
If we need to adjust schedules, skip a dance class, drop tennis, forgo doing extra math homework, I need to let go and know that it’s ok. Together we can figure out schedules and think about “time management”, but at the end of the day our journey is about love and service. I do believe flexibility is one of the keys to finding joy, and want to embrace that idea fully this school year.

My intent is to cherish the love of learning.
My kids are learning so many incredible things in school this year. I want to celebrate the love of learning, and engage in conversations with them about new ideas and discoveries.

My intent is to express gratitude every day.
Early mornings, new schedules, lots of homework – its easy to fall into the back to school blue mode. Instead I want to focus on gratitude, and incorporate it into our daily conversation. I want us to share at least one thing daily that we are grateful for.

 I’d love to hear your intents for the Fall here in the comment section. 

Please do share them on www.intent.com as well, so we can keep the dialogue going!

Celebrate Pi Day with These Recipes

pi dayAs a self-proclaimed and nerd and person of the internet there are three days of the year that make my soul so so happy. There’s May 4, or “May the Fourth” – as in May the Force Be With You. Then there’s October 3 because any self-respecting person that’s seen Mean Girls knows “On October 3, he asked me what day it is. It’s October 3.” (It makes more sense in the context of the movie…)  But the of these in the calendar year is today – 3.14 – Pi Day

I went to a nerd magnet school for my last two years of high school. Our rally chant at school sporting events (or mathlete tournaments) was the following: “Secant, tangent, cosin, sin / 3.14159 / Physics, Bio, Polymer Chem / Give ’em hell / Go S&M.” First of all, yes we stole it from MIT, shh. Secondly, it was the North Carolina School of Science and Math, hence the S&M. It wasn’t some weird sexual thing, in case you were worried. Back then I thought that I was going to grow up to be some sort of mathematician (What do people who major in math actually do when they grow up? NASA?). I did Calculus homework as stress relief. Before graduation I realized that my real talents lay in creative fields, but the nerd alert alarms within me sound off on special occasions. Pi day is one of those occasions.

The best part of Pi day is not just celebrating one of the best irrational numbers around – it’s about dessert. Oh, that’s right. What better use of Pi than to figure out the area of a delicious berry filled pastry from heaven? To help you celebrate and indulge your sweet tooth we’ve rounded up some of the best pie recipes from around the web. Treat yourself today!

The Food Network Pie Recipe Collection – Obviously, the best channel on television. Of course they’d have an entire selection of pie recipes ready for your perusal  – from apple to coconut to chocolate swirl. There’s something here for everyone’s pastry preferences.

Country Living’s Favorite Pies – Since I’m from the south I can’t imagine any doctor’s office or waiting room that didn’t have a copy of Country Loving. After looking through these I can tell you I already started drooling over their pecan (pronounced pee-can if you want to get in the spirit) pie recipe.

Martha Stewart’s 25 Perfect Pies – Maybe you prefer an artisan approach to your pie making. I can dig it. Let’s turn to the mother of all things beautiful and domestic then – Martha Stewart. Just the names of some of these give me shivers of delight. Triple chocolate pumpkin pie? Count. me. in.

Huffington Post American Author Pies – The Huffington Post won my heart when they combined their own celebration of Pi day with classic American authors. My math nerd with my book nerd self can celebrate as one! From Jack Kerouac apple pie to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry pie – American literature has never sounded so delicious!

Mental Floss 10 Pies for Pi Day – Leave it to the folks at Mental Floss to create the list of nerdiest pies. The digits apple pie looks way too impressive to eat but I think I could take out those mini pi-pies in just one bite. If you’re good at carving apples and want to take your Pi day love to the next level then this is definitely the list for you.

Are there any “nerd” days of the year that get you excited? How do you celebrate them? And if you plan to make a pie today be sure to tell us which ones in the comments below! 

 

We Have a Problem: 7 Year Old Girl Sent Home by Racist School Policy

Two months ago 7 year old Tiana Parker was sent home from school because her hair cut was considered “distracting.” What was her haircut? Thin dreadlocks tied back in a bow. The Oklahoma public school that sent her home has a policy that says “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Really? Could they be any more blatantly racist? Afros are the natural style of many black women’s hair and you want to imply it’s distracting?

MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry decided to take up the cause on her show, especially after derogatory comments about black hair were made by “The Talk” co-host Sheryl Underwood (a black female herself) earlier in the week. Melissa addresses her segment to young Tiana, affirming that the little girl has nothing to be ashamed of – that her hair is not distracting but an homage to black heritage. Melissa names off several influential black artists and musicians who have also rocked dreadlocks – from Bob Marley to Whoopi Goldberg and more recently Willow Smith. She applauds Tiana’s parents for withdrawing her from that school and placing her somewhere where her natural beauty – her black beauty – is embraced. We applaud them as well.

This issue hits particularly close to home. As a child of interracial marriage (my dad is black, my mom white) my hair was often an issue of contention. I was born with a full head of it. My mother’s family has thick hair, especially for Anglicans, which combined with the kinky curls of my dad’s DNA lead to this:

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That’s me on the left, age 4. Diana Ross ain’t got nothing on this, y’all.

It only got thicker and more out of control from there. I was 15 before we decided to try relaxing my hair. I grew up in the south so having my white mom take me to a black hair salon to get a perm was always a level of complicated that would take a text book to explain. It cost $150 and took three and a half hours (did I mention my hair is really thick?) of me sitting in a chair with my scalp feeling like it was literally on fire. That painful tingle was the feeling of some magical concoction burning the ethnicity out of my hair. That went on once every 3-6 months for 7 years.

Why? Because I never felt pretty with my hair natural. I often make the comparison that my hair without a straightener looks like someone shoved my fingers into an electrical socket. All of the popular girls at school at stick straight shiny hair that they could wear down any time they liked. All the lead characters on my favorite tv shows were the same way – even the black characters had their hair shiny and straight instead of natural. All the weather has to do is think about drizzling and my hair becomes a seeing hazard for anyone walking behind me. Like Tiana’s school is trying to preach – I felt like I was a distraction.  Even now I prefer my hair straight over curly (though to be honest, that also has a lot to do with the fact it’s cooler temperature wise if it’s not all bunched up on my head).

It’s because the message given to Tiana, and all other little girls attending that school, isn’t a new one. For generations little black girls, and minorities all over, have been under pressure to “white-ify” themselves to fit the beauty ideals we are bombarded with on a daily basis. From simple hair treatments like relaxers and extensions to the extreme of skin bleaching treatments. It’s often insidious – the fact we see so few black females rocking natural hairstyles in mainstream media. It’s a subliminal campaign. But this – Tiana’s case? There’s nothing undercover about it. We are telling girls in primary school that their natural beauty isn’t good enough, that it’s a distraction, that it’s ugly. And that’s a problem.

So take a second before you put on your make-up today. Look in the mirror, just look, before you style your hair. Tiana Parker isn’t a distraction. She’s beautiful. So are you, right now – naked and natural and flawless. Own that. You have to because there are a generation of girls growing up who are being told differently and we have to show them the truth. That job starts with us. Let’s do better than this.

VOD: Stop Buying Your Daughters Dolls and Get Them Into Science

There’s a new girl power anthem, and Beyonce isn’t singing it – it’s your daughter. They are telling you they are tired of being cast as “Princess Maids.” They like colors that aren’t pink or purple. They are telling you they are tired of being typecast by the toys that are marketed to them, and it is time for you to listen.

The commercial is for GoldieBlox, a toy company out to show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. GoldieBlox was founded by Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling who saw a need for girls to have creative toy options outside “the pink aisle” of the toy store. GoldieBlox is a combined book series and construction set starring Goldie – the girl inventor. The idea is to show girls that they aren’t limited to playing house or Disney Princess – they have just as much ability and opportunity to build things and invent like toys geared mainly for boys encourage. When you consider that less than 3 out of 10 graduating science majors are girls or that only 1 in 10 engineers are females – it’s time to start looking at the messages we are sending our daughters, sisters, nieces and friends about what they can achieve in math and science.

The video recruited Brett Doar, who created the epic Rube Goldberg machine for an OKGO music video. Together with three young actresses they recreated a Rube Goldberg using various girly toys and household implements to show just how awesome it is for girls to stop trying on dresses and start using their hands.

Take a look, and please send it along to any possible future inventor who could use some empowerment.

VOD: Twin Brother Asks Santa to Save His Sister From Bullying

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 11.15.25 PMAre you already thinking about what you want for Christmas? When 8-year old Ryan’s mom asked him and his twin sister to write their letters to Santa early (so she could get a head start on saving up for it) the only thing Ryan asked Santa for was to stop the kids at school bullying Amber. “She doesn’t do anything to them,” he says before adding “I’ve been praying for it to stop but God is busy so he needs your help.”

His sister is overweight and suffers from a few mental health issues, their mother admits to “Good Morning America.” So the kids at school taunt her to get her to do different things. “They call me fat, and stupid, and hideous,” the little girl confesses to cameras in one heart breaking part of the video. To make things worse she’s admitted to her mom she sometimes wishes she could die to make it stop.

Luckily for Amber, she has a family that loves her unconditionally and reaches out for her benefit. Her mom had a meeting with the school principal to see about stopping the bullying, and “Good Morning America” surprised Amber with one early Christmas miracle thanks to her brother Ryan’s good will.

Warning: This video will absolutely cause tears, but is definitely worth it.

Share this video if you know of any special child being bullied. What do you think of Ryan’s selfless request for his sister? Tell us in the comments below! 

Your Words

your-words

 

Your words. Your own words.

I remember the first time I tried to formulate this sense, this feeling, this awareness. I needed no words to express it to myself, but then there was my friend telling me how insufficient, how inadequate she felt as a student. She told me of her failures and shortcomings and I struggled with this thought, this sense, this feeling I had that would not be shaped and fitted properly into language.

I found it hard, maybe harder than I would if our teacher did not stand beside us listening in on the conversation. If he hadn’t listen to me trying to say that it is infinitely more important to be a good “you”, than to be a good student, I might have found it easier to find the words.

But this was exactly what I was trying to say.

That being you, that succeeding at being you, that being good at being you, is far more important than being a good student, a good person, a good human. That fulfilling your own potential is far more important than satisfying the ideas of others, of any “others”.

I blurted out a bundle of words to my friend that day. They might have communicated my thoughts, likely they didn’t. We moved on to another subject, our teacher drifted away. Did he mind? Did he mind me saying than my being me, than my friend being her, is of far greater importance than us being good students of his?

I did not believe he minded that at all.

Because he knew that too.

Do You Have the Grit It Takes to Follow Your Dreams?

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 1.50.34 PMHave you ever wanted to give up on something that you really, really wanted because it was just too darn hard to keep trying? 

You can’t run one more step, write one more word, endure one more dead end? Join the club.

Can I Sit Down Now?

But, before you throw in the towel, there’s something you should know.

People who succeed at getting what they want in life aren’t smarter, more talented, or luckier than you.

They just might have something psychologists call grit: the ability to keep going no matter what. Grit, it turns out, may be one of the most powerful ingredients in your success recipe.

Smart Grit

I’m not talking about trying endlessly to reach a goal where the chance of victory is close to zilch, like opening an ice cream shop in Antarctica. Although never say never.

I’m talking about the grit you need to stay on your healthy diet, save money, or start that business. Grit is different from willpower, the ability to focus for snippets of time, say, just long enough to resist that cookie. Grit is willpower’s big brother. It’s endurance for the long haul; the stamina to keep going even when you stumble.

I Want Some Grit, Please

When I was writing my doctoral dissertation, an intense research project that was my final step before getting my PhD, I needed a giant dose of grit.

That’s because the dissertation experience can be pretty grueling. I’d met students who were in dissertation-anxiety support groups, and I’d watched exhausted graduates–sporting newly spawned gray hair–lumber down the aisle to finally accept their diplomas, some after ten years. It was clear; I was going to need some serious stick-to-itiveness if I wanted to make it to graduation before my social security benefits kicked in.

Santa To The Rescue

My own grit arrived in an unexpected flash of inspiration. In the midst of a late night writing session, I suddenly remembered a television show my brothers and I watched every year at Christmastime called “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town.” In the show, there was a song I never forgot called Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.

I suddenly realized that to complete my dissertation, that’s exactly what I needed to do: put one foot in front of the other. Rather than looking at the enormity of the task ahead of me, I needed only to write one word, one paragraph, one page at a time. If I could do that–over and over again–I could find my grit and finish my dissertation.

To remind myself, on the wall over my computer, in big blue letters, I taped the words “Darlene, Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.” When I felt my spirits sag or there was a unexpected detour, I looked up at those words on the wall. I pushed ahead–one step at a time–and made it all the way to graduation day.

You Can Do It!

Are you chasing a dream that feels distant? Or do you want to improve your life in some way, but it’s hard to stay on track? I know it’s tough to keep going when you’re alone on your path or the road ahead is unclear.

That’s why I want to share with you the 3-minute video clip that inspired me. Watch it, and remember its simple message: put one foot in front of the other. Those words were so encouraging to me, they’ve since become my personal mantra. No matter where you’re headed–one step at a time–that’s how you’ll get there.

What We Will Need to Heal After Today’s Tragic Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School

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Our hearts go out to the victims and families of today’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The Associated Press have reported that 27 people, including 18 children, were killed today by a shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This sunny Friday, just a week and a half before Christmas, has turned into a day of devastating tragedy.

In times of great pain and loss, many questions arise. Why do such horrific things happen in the world? How could someone commit such an atrocity? Why couldn’t the children, at least, be spared? Today’s shooting also gives rise to debates about gun control and the 2nd Amendment, as we saw was the case following this summer’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado. These are important discussions to have, important questions to ask. And in a country that averages at least two mass shootings a year, a revisiting of gun control laws is imperative. But, as a White House spokesperson said, today is not the day.

Today, and in the days, weeks, and months to come, the families of the victims are going to need our love and support. Now, more than ever, is a time for community, a time for reaching out our hands and being there to hold the ones who are grieving. We wish Newtown, CT, and all those who have been affected by shootings this year, peace and healing. Remember that you are not alone.

Resources for dealing with loss and grief:

Spiritual Solutions – Dealing with Loss

Facing Death

The Deeper Meaning of Death

Dealing with Grief

Confronting the Bullies on the Bus

Can you remember a bully from your school years? Did you ever confront him or her? I remember our elementary school bully. He teased me mercilessly for having a weird name and a tendency to blush. I slapped him in the face once and got sent to the principal’s office. So unfair, I thought.

Stormy Rich, an 18-year-old Florida high school student, recently experienced the same injustice when she stood up to a group of her peers for bullying a girl with special needs. The teenagers all ride the same bus to school, meaning the bullies have the rest of the students captive for torment during the morning rides. It sounds dramatic, I know, but as a former bus rider, myself, I remember how these things go.

As Rich said, according to Take Part News:

They would be mean to her, tell her she couldn’t sit on certain spots on the bus…just because she doesn’t understand doesn’t mean that should be happening to her.

Apparently Rich reported the bullying to her school’s officials but saw no action taken. It was then she decided to step in and confront the bullies, herself. It’s unclear what Rich actually said and did, but whatever it was caused her to be labeled as a bully and her bus-riding privileges revoked.

Regardless of what actually happened, the fact remains that bus drivers, school officials, parents, and all other adults involved in student life need to seriously examine how quickly and effectively they respond to reports of bullying. How long will it take us to step in to prevent emotional and physical violence?

From Take Part:

The bottom line is something more needs to be done to combat bullying in our schools. Three million students will be absent from school this month because of the emotional and physical toll of bullying, and according to the organization Ability Path, children with disabilities are significantly more likely than their peers to be the victims of this mistreatment.

As long as adults let bullying go unchecked and, as in Stormy’s case, punish those who rebel against it, then they are little more than bullies, themselves, in my book.

Were you or your children ever bullied? How did your school respond? Keep the conversation going in the comments section below.

Be the Anti-Bully: There’s No Such Thing as an Innocent Bystander

In case you haven’t heard, bullying is a hot topic this school year.  It is likely you have already sat through a bullying awareness assembly at school, seen your favorite celeb blog about standing up to bullies, or have read about another tragic teen suicide triggered in part by bullying.  And if you haven’t been a victim of a bully, I’d be willing to bet you have witnessed some of this drama firsthand.

“So what?” you’re probably saying. “It’s not like anyone is actually pro-bully.”

The thing is that it’s not enough just to know the signs of bullying or how to report to your parents or school administrators that you’re being bullied.  As

To be a person of character, to make a difference, to save a life…you have to learn how to be an anti-bully.

When it comes to addressing and ending bullying, it is not just about dealing with the bully and his/her victim.  There is a third person involved who makes the biggest difference of all.  The bystander.

The bystander sees it all. You know what I mean. The bystander witnesses eye rolls, the name calling, the Facebook wall posts and likes, the Formspring messages, and even the more aggressive bullying techniques like physical violence.  But often times the bystander does nothing. After all, were we not taught to mind our own business? Don’t we have our own problems to deal with?

Here is the deal. The bystander is all of us at one point or another.  We have all seen people being treated unjust or victims of mean-girl drama or guy bullying. By not taking a stand for what is right, the bystander becomes a contributor of sorts.

When it comes to bullying, the bystander is not innocent. In fact, anti-bullying bystanders who adopt a “cruel’s not cool” mentality can make the biggest impact of all.  Think about it. If a bully is shamed by his peers for the names he calls his victim at school or if she is chastised for the false rumors she spreads on Facebook about her victim, why would they continue to behave this way?  Removing any social stock that a bully feels they obtain via bullying can go a long way to neutralizing this behavior.

Bystanders stay quiet for a variety of reasons but the ones I hear most often have to do with fear of being ostracized themselves or retaliation from a bully.  The good news is that all of this bullying awareness has caused parents, school administrators, and even the police to start taking bullying much more seriously. Some might even argue that there is liability for authority figures who don’t take bullying reports more seriously.

So if you see something, say something. It will be ok.  As the bystander, you have the power to step in, stand up for what’s right, and maybe even save a life.

Here are five tips about safely reporting what you see: 

  • Recognize that bullying is not just a schoolyard fight. Social drama, mean girl behavior, and spreading false rumors or name calling online is also considered bullying.
  • Report incidences of cyber-bullying, which most parents and administrators don’t see.  You can print out pages, remove identifying info if you want, to prove what you are seeing.
  • Go to the top.  While you may have a teacher you feel more comfortable with, most principals and assistant principals have been trained to take bullying reports very seriously.
  • Don’t rest. If you witness repeated bullying, say something again or report it to someone else if nothing has been done to stop it.
  • Don’t let other people define who you are.  You may feel pressured to stay quiet or mind your own business but if you want to be a person of integrity, you will stand up for what is right. Period.

 

 

Jerry Weichman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist focused solely on teen and preteen issues.  Dr. Jerry is in private practice at Hoag Hospital’s Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach. Dr. Jerry is also the author of the teen self-help book, “How to Deal,” and is a noted public speaker on teen-related topics including parenting, bullying, and adolescent coping skills.  To receive tips for teens and parents, register your email at www.drjerryweichman.com.

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