The Dragonfly Forest

They have been given names such as devil’s darning needle, ear sewer, horse stinger, skeeter hawk, and the snake’s servant. Actually, Dragonflies are beneficial, peaceful, and stunning. You are a Dragonfly if you are: ADD/ADHD, dyslexic, dysgraphic, Asperger’s, NLVD, autistic…

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spiritual Sunday- Why you shouldn't listen to those who criticize you!

You WILL have people in your life who criticize you, judge you, and put you down!  People do this for a variety of reasons.  I wrote about Why People are Mean in the past but this post is about people not being supportive.  One of the reasons people are not supportive and spend their efforts and energy putting you down or criticizing you is because the OTHER person has issues.

It isn't about YOU.  

So my message to you on this Spiritual Sunday is to always be positive toward others.  Just because they are treating you poorly and judging you does not mean you have to do the same.  It takes more courage and strength to be the better person.  It take courage to get out there and do what you are doing so don't ever listen to the people who criticize yet do not have the courage to do what you are doing.  

Here's a great video from my hero-

BrenĂ© Brown - "Why Your Critics Aren't The Ones Who Count"  


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Spiritual Sunday - Living Life focused on the Details -Jill Lam

I've been MIA from posting recently because I've been caught up in being productively busy. To me life is not about making money, it is about living consciously, helping others, being creative, living with integrity.  

I have the spirit of nature in my soul.  I need to be in the woods just as much as I need to breathe, eat, and sleep. I am usually always seen with a camera in hand because I love to take pictures.  I also love to write.  I have books of my own poetry, words of wisdom, and quotes from others that I have been filling up since I was in elementary school.  

I am compelled to make picture quotes and I am trilled when I can make my own.   I currently admin 5 Facebook pages and I work very hard to express myself creatively on these pages via my picture quotes.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy making them.  Although they are very time consuming, they are also very cathartic.  

Enjoy my Dragonfly Friends - I appreciate your support and positive comments for I do this out of my own passions.

I usually have 2 camera's with me- This is a pic of me taking some close up shots.

I can get real close at times but darn catching pictures of Dragonflies is HARD - they don't like to stay still!

Here's one of my pathways in the woods - I love this quote it makes me feel so good to read it everyday!

I love these rocks, they are one of my favorites and I collect them.  Have you ever let one sit in the sun and then hold it against your skin - such a warm and intense feeling.

I love hiking in the early morning when the dew is still on the ground.  I used this picture for this quote because the flower is not perfect and yet it is so beautiful.  We need to remember that we should support each other and not hurt each other.  Are you someone who helps and supports?

I just found this guy the other day, he's a Damselfly and not a Dragonfly (although I love them just the same).  You can tell the difference because when resting the Damselfly holds his wings close to his body while a Dragonfly holds his wings straight out, as if saying to the world -look at me!

Finally here's a Dragonfly picture that I took the day I was getting up close and personal!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Spiritual Sunday - 2 Ways to Get Over Disappointment

We all have to experience disappointment but this is something that I struggle overcoming.  I really do understand that all of our hopes and dreams will not come true.  No matter how much we work for something, how much effort we put into something, we still may obtain the desired results.  

This is a crushing feeling.  A feeling that is not easy to get over.  How quickly we get over these feelings often depends on how badly we wanted to reach our goal.  The feelings are heartbreaking at times.  

Disappointments are in our lives to help us with perspectives it means that we need to readjust our thinking, expectations, and goals.  

The challenge is- the feelings of disappointment are real and may last for a long time.  So here are 2 things you can do to help you on your road to recovery.

1- acknowledge that you are disappointed and focus on what exactly it is you are disappointed about. Did you really want a job that you didn't get?  Is it this job specifically you wanted or is the pain of disappointment because you just wanted a job? Know explicitly what you are disappointed about and you will be able to get over it more quickly.

2 - once you know exactly what you are disappointed about focus on ways to get to that goal via a different pathway or readjust your perspective of success.  If this is something you really wanted - say a specific job then are there other ways you can get a job similar to this one?  Can you reach your goal in a different way?  What are the lessons you have learned from this disappointment? Sometimes we experience disappointment because we feel like a failure if we do not achieve our goal/dream.  This does not make you a failure you are still a success you just have to alter your understanding of the word success.

The key is to not give up on YOU!  You can give up on the dream/goal/hope but don't give up on you!  Stop being disappointed in YOU and know you did the best you could - that goal/dream was not meant to be at this very moment - you need to learn things first or change the direction you are going.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why Bill Gates is a Part of the Educational Problem

There’s an article going around the internet posted by Huffington Post titled: Gates Says Fixing Education Toughest Challenge.  In this article Gates is quoted as saying: "And the one thing we have a lot of in the United States is unmotivated students.”

Wow, this is not reality.  We do not have UNMOTIVATED students we have students who have not been educated appropriately and therefore they have developed Learned Helplessness. I wrote an article on The Importance of Changing Learned Helplessness in Students with Disabilities and would love for Mr. & Mrs. Gates to understand the reality of why students are not being successful.  I know of many very intelligent students who dropped out or failed out because of this Learned Helplessness experience.  This article was very popular and I received a number of emails from people who wanted to tell me their story because this was exactly what they were/had experienced. 

I later received emails and phone calls from parents who were frustrated because they took the Learned Helplessness article (or emailed it) to the school and the staff often disregarded the student developed learned helplessness and continued to blame it on being unmotivated and unwilling.  This prompted me to write another article: Why We Should Help Studentswith Learning Disabilities. 

We need to admit that we as a nation are doing it wrong when it comes to education.  We are rewarding the wrong behaviors, setting kids up for consistent failures, and using an arbitrary grading system (Grades, ACT/SAT, and Standardized Tests).  In a more recent article I address this topic: Students don’t Fail, the Education System is failing our Students!

So, what can we do about this?  We can admit that it is uncomfortable to face reality.  To look at ourselves in the mirror and see the naked truth.  Our education system is the problem.  If Mr. & Mrs. Gates want to make the world a better place then they need to put money into education research.  We need to educate our children and stop letting so many of them fall through the cracks as if these kids don’t matter.  Mr. & Mrs. Gates could help financially support programs that are evidence based such as making sure all schools have systematic, explicit, and phonic based reading approaches/programs.  If a student is not progressing at grade level then this student is to receive one-to-one tutoring until they are at or above grade level.  We need to stop allowing teachers to just pass a student on or fail these students. 

We need to stop with the standardized testing and focus on educating these children.  A teacher can tell if a student is behind in the areas of reading, writing, and math.  We don’t need a standardized test to prove these students are behind.  Teachers should be allowed to identify these students so they can receive individualized support and the school district should pay for each student who is behind an individualized tutor until the student is at or above grade level.  Failure should NOT be an option.  We need to stop waiting until the standardized test scores come out to finally decide to help some of these students.  We need to stop waiting until the student is so far behind that it is almost impossible for them to catch up.  The school system is squishing the self-esteem of many children and causing students to develop learned helplessness. 

So here’s my final message to Mr. & Mrs. Gates.  Stop being a part of the problem.  Saying students are UNMOTIVATED is fueling the negative fire already in these children.  They are not UNWILLING they are UNABLE!  If I had the funds you have I would be making a difference in the way we educate our students, the way we motivate, and the way the culture & climates of the school are focused on competing against each other and not supporting each other for success.  I’d spend money educating the educators on EMPATHY because Empathy is the Antidote toBullying!  Honestly, education is not as challenging as the Gates think, it will just take a while to see the positive changes once the discrimination stops.

Finally, if you want to know what discrimination does to a person watch: Dr. King &Lessons from A Class DividedPeople with dyslexia and other learning disabilities are often discriminated against in the educational system.  There are rumors that Bill Gates himself is dyslexic but I do not believe that it true.  I believe if he was dyslexic then he would have empathy and stop blaming our children (here’s a great article by Pam Wright: The Blame Game!  Are SchoolProblems the Kids’ Fault?).  I do not believe that Mr. Gates knows what it is like to struggle or be discriminated against.  If this opinion is not true, then Mr. Gates can enlighten me but in the meantime I have no evidence to prove he understands what it is really like in the shoes of someone who struggles.

Here's a picture & quote from a child who experienced only a couple of days feeling bad about himself. Think about what are current education system is doing to children and then tell me that kids are UNMOTIVATED Mr. Gates!  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Feature Friday - "Five For Fighting" on the 4th of July - Must watch videos!

Today is the 4th of July and today I'd like to share the music from Five For Fighting .  I hope you not only enjoy these videos and Five For Fighting's music but also reflect on the meaning of today.  Today is a day we are celebrating our freedom and our rights to be an individual.

Please take some time to enjoy these!

"Freedom Never Cries"

"Note to the Unknown Solider"

"Two Lights"

"I Just Love You"



and my favorite that ALWAYS make me cry:
"100 Years"

Have a happy life!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

You ARE under the control of others- Don't think so? Then check this out!

I was recently thinking about the Stanley Milgram experiment and realized this is a good topic for people to understand.  This is an experiment done in 1961 and provided us evidence that people will follow the directions of an authority figure even if they feel they should not be doing what they are asked to do- in Milgram’s experiment 65% of participants continued to shock another person because a person in authority told them to even though the participant could hear the other person is in pain and asking to stop.  Here’s a quick clip of that:
People often say that in current times with all the sensitivity training, people will stand up to authority figures more and not do something just because a person an authority tells them to do it; but that is not the case.  Here are a couple more recent clips of this experiment:

Now watch this guy-   
When I teach about this in college psychology classes I always have students tell me that they would NOT follow a person in authority.   So I put them to the test.  I don’t have the Milgram machine but I would do something else.  Here’s what I did. 

About a week after the discussion of the Milgram experiment (and Stanford Prison experiment) I told the class I want them to know what it is like to be the teacher and each gets a turn up front of the classroom. I asked for volunteers for the teacher role and had this person step outside the room and wait on me to come out and tell him/her what he/she will talk about.  I told the rest of the class their job was to ignore the “student-teacher,” I told them to make the “student-teacher” annoyed and flustered.  If the “student-teacher” asked them a question they were to refuse to answer or give an inappropriate answer.  I then went out to the “student-teacher” and told him/her to engage the students – ask questions, make eye-contact, motive them, and get them interacting. 

What happened was exactly as expected.  The more the students treated the “student-teacher” poorly the more distraught the “student-teacher” became.  Some students were uncomfortable but continued anyway looking over at me to stop the exercise.  Every student participated.  I did not have one student not do what I asked them to do.  When I did stop the exercise I asked the students what they learned from the lesson and was told – “it’s hard being a teacher.”  When I pointed out that they just validated Milgram’s experiment – that people are obedient to an authority figure even if they do not agree with the activity or request.  Students were shocked and disappointed in themselves.  I did point out that each student may not have done what was told to them if they were alone because another thing we learn in Social Psychology is people will more easily engage in inappropriate behaviors if in a group. 

People comply with authority much more than you think – YOU do it almost daily, especially if you work.  When you are in a work environment you are told what to do and how to do it.  You are given assignments and comply.  Sometimes you are told to do something that may be wrong or unethical.  You may not even know it is wrong or unethical because you trust the person/people in authority.  What if you know or suspect it is wrong?  Do you say something or refuse to do it?  What if you did say something or choose not to do the requested activity, would you fear the loss of your job or retaliation?  These are some tough decisions and obviously must be weighed against what the person/people in authority is/are asking you to do. 

Now think about this, why do you think students who have learning disabilities do not receive an appropriate education, denied services, or denied an IEP/504?  Do you think it is one individual (teacher, administrator, school psychologist…) who wants to deny this child an opportunity to learn?  Most likely it is not a person but a school district itself.  Someone in authority has told staff that there can only be a limited number of students in special education, on IEP’s/504, and what services can and cannot be provided.  When it comes down to it, schools are businesses and sometimes people who are not on the front lines make decisions that are not conducive to the education of students with learning disabilities.  These people make policies and procedures and teachers and administrators follow these even if they are actually violating a student’s rights.  Many times teachers and administrators are just doing what they are told to do from the people in the central office.  When we really look at it we can see that the ones who are really running the schools are the people in the highest authority. As a parent of a child with a learning disability how many times have you been told by a teacher that know your child is struggling but they can’t say/do anything about it because of the people above them.  Many teachers have told parents things only to deny saying these things in meetings because they don’t want to get into trouble with their bosses.   

Stanley Milgram said it best with this quote: “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”

We need to teach our children that they are to be HEROES!   As a society we need to support people who are “whistleblowers” instead of condoning companies and even school districts to lead with a culture of “don’t question, just do – because those that question will lose their jobs.”  People should not be punished or condemned because they followed the directions of an authority figure especially if they have power and control of their paycheck until we live in a society that values independence and respects people who question the actions of authority figures. 

We must also teach our children know they have a voice and to ask those in authority “why” they are being asked to do something.  We need to help empower children say “no” if they do not feel something is right.  We need to make these changes so our world can be better! Watch the next video and see what it would be like if people felt empowered to stand up to authority! 

Finally, here’s one of my heroes, Phil Zimbardo discussing The Psychology of Evil in a 20 minute TED talk.  Watch this, learn from it, and put into practice the suggestions he has near the end of his talk.