Saturday, February 4, 2017

Inspirational Quote – February 4, 2017

“Some people are going to leave, but that’s not the end of your story….that’s the end of their part in your story.”

I’ve found this to be true as I’ve got older. When I look back it’s easy to see that, although I didn’t realize it at the time, when people left my life for any reason it was usually because it was the right time for us to walk our separate paths again. We had each taken and given what was necessary from and to each other while we walked the same path. How wonderful! A constant stream of people stepping onto our path to journey beside us, willing to share their lives and time. Some of them, at a time known only to fate, stepping back onto their own path, leaving us to continue our own journey and the others waiting ahead taking their turn to walk beside us.

It's About Critical Connections Not Critical Mass

Connection to others is important in many aspects of life, from establishing a sense of self to securing basic safety. In this piece, Curtis Ogden shares the story of a couple who discovered this truth while hiking in the mountains of Nepal during the 2015 earthquake and makes a compelling case for why critical connections are a key to resilience and to moving from chaos to order in times of crisis.

Friday, February 3, 2017

How to Stay Hydrated (Without Drinking Water)

How Much Water Is in Your Diet?

Drinking liquids isn't the only way to stay hydrated. You typically get about 20% of your water each day from food. You can get even more if you eat certain things. And there are benefits to taking in water through food: You absorb it more slowly and get nutrients along the way.


They’re 95% water and low in calories. They also may help fight inflammation and might even slow the aging process. They’re great in a salad or as an edible scoop for dips.


This one may be a surprise. Crunchy and dense, you wouldn’t think they’re full of water. But they are, around 90%. And they’re loaded with beta carotene and other antioxidants that protect you against cancer and keep your heart strong. Add them to a salad or have them as a snack.


This green squash that grows like a weed in the South is 95% water. It has antioxidants -- things that help protect your cells from damage -- including two that are good for your eyes. It’s great grilled or roasted in the oven.

Iceberg Lettuce

t’s 95% water, and while it has fewer nutrients than some other greens, it does give you a few things. Besides fiber -- which helps keep you regular -- it also delivers potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous -- all essential minerals that can help keep you healthy.


Here’s a green leafy veggie that can be used raw in a salad or sauteed as a side dish. It doesn’t have quite as much water as iceberg lettuce, but it’s loaded with vitamin K, folate, manganese, and magnesium, plus antioxidants that help fight inflammation and cancer.


It has a satisfying crunch and is still 95% water. It’s also low in calories and high in vitamin K, folate, and potassium. And celery is good for digestion because it has lots of fiber and helps prevent inflammation in your digestive system.


You may not have thought of this one, but it’s 92% water. It’s also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and other essentials. And it has other nutrients that may help lower cholesterol and protect you against cancer. But don’t boil it -- roast it to keep in the nutrients.


No surprise here: The whole idea of soup is that it’s largely liquid. But it’s a great way to get fiber and nutrients as well -- and there’s one for every taste. Make broth from fish, chicken, or vegetables, and add almost anything to it, from beans to greens and meats -- even pasta. Homemade chicken soup is not only good for hydration, but it also might help fight the common cold.


They’re 95% water, and they can add flavor and sweetness to a sandwich or salad. They have lots of antioxidants, including one called lycopene that may help fight cancer. They also can help lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and may boost your overall heart health.


This summer treat is a good way to stay hydrated when it’s hot. It’s sweet, but low in calories, and can quench your thirst, thanks to its 91% water content. Like tomatoes, it has lots of lycopene, an antioxidant that may protect your cells from sun damage and help your skin.


They’re 91% water and also have lots of antioxidants, especially flavonoids -- chemicals that help your brain stay sharp and healthy. Eat them for dessert with a bit of whipped cream, or put them in a summer salad.


It’s 85% water and a great source of protein and electrolytes that make your heart and other organs work the way they should. It also has bacteria (probiotics) that are good for digestion and help keep you regular. Have some with a few strawberries to get even more water in your afternoon snack.


Made with water or low-fat or skim milk, it can help keep you hydrated and give your heart a boost. It can lower your cholesterol levels and may even help ward off type 2 diabetes and breast cancer. It’s a healthy way to start the day -- as long as you watch the added sugar.


That sour bite can sure wake you up in the morning. Plus, at 90% water, it will help keep your body hydrated. It’s also full of fiber and nutrients, especially vitamin C, which helps your immune system and can protect your cells against damage. But it can cause problems if you take certain medications, so check with your doctor first if you take any prescription drugs.

Signs You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

You Battle Breakouts

If you’re not getting good sleep, your skin may soon show it. Some studies have found a link between a lack of ZZZs and acne, perhaps related to how sleep controls hormones in your body. Sleep deprivation also hurts the immune system, leaving your body open to many different issues.

Your Eyes Don’t Look Good

Redness, puffiness, dark circles, and bags -- all signs that you’re not getting enough shut-eye. The sleep-deprived tend to get more wrinkles, lines, swelling, and droopiness, studies show. Why? It may be that your body misses out on the hormone control and tissue repair that happens in deep sleep stages.

You Gain Weight

When you get a good night’s rest, your body can properly control the hormones that affect how hungry you feel, ghrelin and leptin. Without them, you may feel the urge to eat more than you need, which can make you gain weight.

You Crave Junk Food

After a sleepless night, you may be more likely to pick that cheeseburger and fries over a salad for lunch. A sleep-deprived brain is more likely to crave unhealthy snacks and meals. It may be that judgment and decision-making aren’t as sharp when you’re tired, which makes it easier for other desires to take over.

You Chug More Caffeine

Not a huge surprise: If your usual 2 cups of joe just aren’t cutting it, you may not be as rested as usual. Caffeine may seem like an answer to poor sleep, but it quickly can become part of the problem. In the short term, the pick-me-up of coffee or soda may make you more alert, but in the long term, it can lead to insomnia or anxiety.

You Feel Moody

Irritability is a big sign of poor sleep. One study limited people to 4 1/2 hours of sleep a night for a week. The result: More stressed, angry, and mentally exhausted people. They felt better when they returned to their normal schedules.

You Feel Depressed

Depression and poor sleep are also closely related. Worse, they’re circular -- depression can lead to poor sleep, and the reverse can happen, too.

Focus and Memory Feel Dim

Even a little less sleep -- losing just 2 hours if you usually snooze 8 hours a night -- can make you groggy and affect concentration and memory. This may make you less skilled at work -- or worse, behind the wheel of your car. More than one-third of people admit dozing off while driving.

Mornings Feel Crummy

Waking up with a sore throat, dry mouth, or headache could point to a medical reason you’re sleeping poorly -- sleep apnea, snoring, or acid reflux, for example. If you notice symptoms over and over, talk to your doctor. She can figure out if medication or other treatment would help you.

Get the Rest You Need

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Make sure it’s restful:

o Stick to a schedule, which means going to bed and waking up about the same time each day.
o Keep your room cool, quiet, and dark.
o Exercise regularly, especially workouts that get your heart pumping. It may promote deeper sleep.

A good night’s sleep repairs the body and mind, which helps you function at your best.

How to Cultivate a Secure Attachment with Your Child

By Diana Divecha

A new book suggests that parents can raise healthier and happier children by providing a balance of support and freedom.

A preschooler waits for his mother’s reassuring smile before joining other children on the jungle gym. A one-year-old calms instantly when her dad lifts her onto his lap, even though he’s talking on the phone. An older child manages his stage fright when he sees his mom in the audience nodding in empathy and support.
As fleeting as these micro-gestures are, each of them telegraphs a secure attachment—a special, trusting emotional bond—between a child and his or her caregiver. This kind of relationship is key to healthy development, say psychotherapists Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper, and Bert Powell. In their new book, Raising a Secure Child: How Circle of Security Parenting Can Help You Nurture Your Child’s Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom to Explore, the authors guide parents toward creating this kind of enduring bond with their children.
Parenting for a secure attachment has two themes: 1) providing comfort when needed and 2) offering the freedom to explore when desired. It’s a simple concept, but one that can be complex to manifest in the rush of everyday life. That’s why a book like this can be a crucial tool for parents.
Research over many decades has shown that a secure relationship is the most important foundation of effective parenting. Children who have secure attachments tend to be happier, kinder, more socially competent, and more trusting of others, and they have better relations with parents, siblings, and friends. They do better in school, stay physically healthier, and create more fulfilling relationships as adults.
Unfortunately, there is confusion in the popular media about what a secure attachment is and how to foster it. This is partly because scientists have done a poor job at communicating the idea beyond the walls of academe. Additionally, the term “attachment parenting” has been co-opted by a philosophical movement that promotes parenting practices (such as natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping) that have not proven to be related to a secure attachment. For these reasons, Raising a Secure Child is a much-needed course correction.

What secure attachment looks like

As the authors describe it, a secure attachment is a “confidence and trust in the goodness of me, you, us” that a person carries throughout their daily life. It is the sense of being loved and supported no matter what happens. And when children feel secure, a world of possibilities opens up.
Hoffman, Cooper, and Powell distill the wisdom of attachment theory into an accessible and practical approach called the Circle of Security. The circle represents the ebb and flow of how babies and young children need their caregivers—at times coming close for care and comfort, and at other times following their inspiration to explore the world around them. The caregivers’ role is to tune in to where on the circle their child is at the moment and act accordingly.
Drawing on 30 years of working with children and families, the authors show how parents may feel discomfort or have difficulties with various parts of the circle. These difficulties arise from parents’ own childhood experiences and attachment styles, and, unfortunately, they can interfere with the formation of a secure attachment.
For example, a parent may rebuff a toddler’s need for comfort, believing that doing so will make the child more independent. But decades of research show that children need to feel secure in their relationships before they can develop authentic autonomy. Another parent may have difficulty with the exploration phase, fearing for their child’s safety. If they convey this anxiety to the child, they can send the message that the world is not safe or, worse, that the child isn’t competent. These children can become overly dependent on their parents.
Through their kind and compassionate writing style, the authors model the tone they ask parents to take with their children. They do not prescribe specific parenting behaviors but rather ask parents to pay attention to their own emotions and what they communicate to their children:
The youngest babies can sense ease versus impatience, delight versus resentment or irritation, comfort versus restlessness, genuine versus pretending, or other positive versus negative responses in a parent when these reactions aren’t evident to a casual observer. Little babies may pick up on the smallest sigh, the subtlest shift in tone of voice, a certain glance, or some type of body language and know the parent is genuinely comfortable or definitely not pleased.
No one can be attuned to another person at all times, though. In fact, the authors assert that the myth of “complete availability” actually undermines a child’s development. Ruptures, small and large, happen all the time in the fabric of human relationships, and so it becomes important that repairs, small and large, become second nature to parents. Caregivers may be relieved to know that children are not keeping a parenting score, but rather assessing whether the relationship is safe and secure overall. Good enough is truly good enough.
Parenting for a secure attachment helps parents to let go of any pressures they feel to constantly prepare their child for the future, which can inadvertently fill children with anxiety. Instead, it requires “being with” or cultivating sensitivity to what children are feeling at the moment and helping them label, understand, and manage their feelings…or simply sitting still and waiting with kindness and understanding they have their feelings. As psychiatrist Dan Siegel says, “feeling felt” is one of the most important needs children have.

How to read this book

Raising a Secure Child is neither a quick read nor a how-to, but instead invites thoughtful reflection from the reader. Some important points, however, are left undeveloped. For example, a short insert briefly acknowledges that babies’ temperaments matter, when developmental science has found baby temperament to be quite important.
Also, though the book is based on science, Raising a Secure Child lacks references. This leaves readers wondering which claims are based on research, clinical experience, or just sound conventional wisdom. And there are some near missteps: The reader has to look closely to see that the authors are claiming that parents and other adults, not just mothers in particular, can form secure attachments.
Finally, wisps of outdated theories can be found in the book. For example, the authors present the psychoanalytic “object relations” idea that babies begin as “one” with the mother and have to “split” to form a sense of self. This theory is not supported in modern developmental cognitive science.
These minor flaws notwithstanding, Raising a Secure Child is one of the most important contributions to the parenting literature in years. It is a much-needed correction to the confusion of “attachment parenting,” and fills a gap by focusing on the elusive, ephemeral flow of emotions between children and the adults who care for them. The guidance is offered with an understated grace and poetry, as the authors soothe the parents’ own attachment history to ease their relationship with their children.
I imagine that any parent’s nervous system will calm when reading that “every heart is still seeking the love it was born to know.”

Inspirational Quote – February 3, 2017

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan and, guess what they have planned for you? Not much!”

We’re all guilty of just drifting along, occasionally buffeted by the winds of life, blown here, blown there, allowing ourselves to be at the mercy of others. Some of us are fortunate enough to wake up, perhaps a tap from a piece of life’s driftwood knocks some sense into us. Each one of us has our own destiny and this relies on us actually taking charge of our own steering wheel of life, charting our course, and keeping to it. I know so many people who have given control of their wheel to others who, of course, are only focused on following their own route, and give no thought to their travelling companion’s dreams and aspirations. Go on, grab your own wheel!!


Barbara Crooker: Poetry as a Form of Love

"I believe the way we most fully integrate ourselves with the world, is through our senses. When I teach creative writing classes, I love it when I get a five-day class, so that each day I give them an exercise based on one of the senses. I think the electronic world makes us out of touch with our embodied selves. For me, nature is a huge source. I want to be outside. I want to turn to it. I want to be observing it as much as possible because that's the source for everything." Poet Barbara Crooker's life and writing encompass harsh losses and radiant gifts. In this in-depth interview interspersed with a selection of her luminous poetry, she shares reflections on grief, parenting, nature, the writing life and much more.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to Nurture Empathic Joy in Your Classroom

By Amy L. Eva

According to a new study, students perform better when teachers share in their joy.

A new teacher I know recently shared the reason he decided to become an educator: “Cheesy maybe, but I became intrigued by teaching because of smiles. When a student I am working with smiles, the feeling I get is indescribable.”
My friend is describing “empathic joy”— the experience of sharing and understanding positive emotions. When our students feel happy, we feel happy. When our students celebrate a success, we celebrate with them. Empathic joy delights in the good everyone can share. And in the classroom, empathic joy might have academic benefits: Researchers following primarily white teachers in ethnically diverse schools linked teachers’ joy to students’ higher test scores.
Unfortunately, day-to-day workplace challenges can undermine the contagious sense of joy that may have brought you to teaching in the first place: conflicts among colleagues, budget cuts and layoffs, or high-stakes testing pressure, to name a few.
If you are struggling to recall recent experiences of joy, here are five suggestions for nurturing and developing empathic joy in your classroom.

1. Slow down, and pay attention to the good things

“Withitness” is a term coined by educational psychologist Jacob Kounin to describe the capacity to recognize the dynamics in your classroom as a whole, while still seeing the individuals within it.
But our perception of the reality around us is shaped by many unconscious biases, not the least of which is negativity bias—our tendency to focus on negative events, like the student who is acting out or the parent who criticizes your teaching.
We may also hold biases against our students, unconsciously feeling someone cannot learn due to limitations associated with their race, language, culture, or socioeconomic status. A list of tried-and-true instructional strategies has no meaning if I don’t really believe that the squirrely child in front of me has the capacity to learn.
How can you correct for your biases and make sure you’re seeing the classroom as a whole, in all its possibilities? Start by pausing and trying to be present, recognizing quiet moments of triumph in the classroom. This is mindfulness—cultivating moment-to-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.
Educator and researcher Patricia Jennings describes how mindfulness helps teachers to slow down, set up a positive learning environment, and strengthen their relationships with students. She features three concrete mindfulness practices that teachers can regularly use in their classrooms, including “centering,” “working with difficult emotions,” and mindful use of “wait time.”
If we develop skills to foster both open awareness and focused attention over time, then we will become more present and responsive to the range of students in our classrooms.
The daily practice of mindfulness can support a teacher in embodying a more attuned presence throughout the school day.

2. Keep joyful memories alive

My friend remembered being captivated by students’ smiles early in his career. Can you recall a similar visceral experience that may have enticed you into teaching? A self-contented sigh in a moment of accomplishment? Eyes that brightened with understanding? The eager chatter of students raring to go before a debate? Consider asking yourself the following questions:
  • When and how did I last experience empathic joy?
  • Where?
  • With whom?
  • Did my student/s sense that I was celebrating with them?
In Hardwiring Happiness, Rick Hanson reminds us that if we consciously take the time to savor positive experiences (for up to 30 seconds at a time), we are more likely to combat negativity bias and to begin rewiring our brains. Over time, we can experience greater pleasure in joyful moments.
As you reflect on experiences in your school and classroom, focus on one or more of the following research-based practices for cultivating joy and a sense of social connection.
  • Three Good Things: Take 10 minutes at the end of the day (for one week) and write down three things that went well for you. Remember how you felt at the time and what may have sparked this event in the first place. Why did it happen?
  • Meaningful Photos: Spend a week taking photos of things that give you joy and purpose; then sit down and take a look at your collection. What does each photo represent for you, and why is it meaningful?
  • Reminders of Connectedness: Identify words, images, and objects in your school and classroom that evoke a sense of community and social connectedness.
After you reflect on your own joy, don’t stop there. Keep those memories alive by celebrating them with your students and their families.

3. Share joy to foster connections with students and families

There are many practical ways that you can broadcast joy in your classroom.
  • Start by sharing one of the practices above with your students. For example, create a bulletin board space for the “Three Good Things” exercise, display the “Meaningful Photos” you collected, or facilitate a discussion around classroom “Reminders of Connectedness.” 
  • Leave one or two celebratory post-it notes on a student’s desk each day. Capture a moment that you enjoyed as you watched a student high-five a friend or solve a tough math problem with a self-satisfied grin.
  • Include a classroom meeting exercise where you and your students recall joyful moments. “I felt happy/excited when I saw [students’ names] huddled up with their heads together preparing for their book club presentation. It took a lot of work, but they were so energetic and supportive of each other.”
  • Generate postcards and/or emails for a handful of students and their families each week. “This week I really loved watching [student’s name] in the classroom. I was so happy to see … and I just wanted you to know.” Short and sweet.
When you actively celebrate successes with your students and their families, you are likely to generate stronger feelings of connectedness and belonging in your classroom.

4. Consciously make micro-affirmations

What about the days when you aren’t feeling particularly joyful or empathic? You can challenge yourself to recognize and acknowledge the good in your students.
Micro-affirmations are small acknowledgments of a person’s value. They can work to create a sense of connection between teacher and student—and they serve as a counter to micro-aggressions (snubs, insults, or slights directed at members of marginalized groups, whether intentional or unintentional). They indicate that students are both capable and welcome in your classroom.
Here are several examples of micro-affirmations that teachers can regularly model:
  • Making eye contact with students while they are talking
  • Calling on students of different races and genders equally in all subjects
  • Referring to individual students by name
  • Using inclusive language (e.g., referring to “families” rather than “parents,” “mothers,” or “fathers”)
  • Openly acknowledging a range of students for different tasks and actions
  • Showing enthusiasm in the classroom (even when you are tired)
One long-time language arts teacher I know concentrates on specific micro-affirmations (up to three) on mornings when she is feeling tired. “When I focus my energies on modeling enthusiasm, calling on lots of students by name, and thanking them for their participation and engagement, I begin to thrive off of their energy, and it feels like we all start to feel more connected,” she says.

5. Take care of yourself

Teachers are notorious for neglecting self-care practices. Some claim that getting themselves to the restroom on a busy school day is cause for celebration. Why do many of us struggle to address basic health needs like getting to the gym, eating breakfast, and taking weekly time to socialize?
It may be because so many teachers are genuinely idealistic and altruistic. The trouble, of course, is that we can neglect ourselves if we’re constantly focused on the needs of others. If we want to generate joy and connection in the classroom, we have to genuinely care for our students, and authentic care does not emerge in a vacuum. You’ve heard it before (and you know it in your heart): Self-care is the only way to build up enough emotional ballast to engage meaningfully with your students.
Self-care starts with self-compassion. Be gentle and understanding with yourself as you move toward new self-care habits. Recognize your common humanity; know that you are not alone in your struggles to find time and energy to take care of yourself, and mindfully hold your thoughts and emotions in balanced awareness. No need to ignore your feelings of depletion, but no need to exaggerate them either. Then you can move toward greater well-being and resilience with these science-based self-care strategies.
If you practice self-compassion, engage in self-care, and consciously remember, celebrate, and share positive moments in your classroom, you may find yourself experiencing more empathic joy—and so might your entire classroom.

Inspirational Quote – February 2, 2017

“Don’t belittle yourself. Be BIG yourself.”

Occasionally, we our own worst enemy. You know what I mean. Somebody will ask us to do something and we decline, saying we’re not up to it, don’t have the confidence, or the skills, etc. etc. The downside is that, if we do this long enough, we start to believe our own hype and our self-confidence takes a nosedive. Much, much better to say, okay, maybe I haven’t done this before or don’t have much experience but I’ll give it a go. If you keep putting yourself down others will too but, if you believe in yourself and are willing to try, look out World!


Bloombars: A Conversation with John Chambers

"I think I was the only person of color in my entire school who wasn't placed in Special Ed. There was definitely an expectation of failure. So I left my senior year to attend Solebury School in New Hope, PA. This one-year experience really changed the way I thought, and it also forced me into leadership positions. I kind of reinvented, or discovered, myself -- probably both, to be honest. How fast a person can change in a nurturing environment was another lesson." John Chambers is the inspired, and inspiring, founder of Bloombars, a creative, positive alternative to the ordinary booze-bar.