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…

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Resolution to make mistakes!

Life is not perfect and you are not perfect so why are you so afraid of making mistakes and expecting things to work out perfectly?  

We learn so much more from the mistakes we make so go ahead and make them.  

Here's something similar you should write for your New Year's Resolution: 

I will give myself permission to make mistakes!  

  • I will stop beating myself up when things don't work out as I expected - my expectations may be way off!
  • I will stop stressing out over things when they go wrong - I am learning a lot of important lessons!
  • I will stop throwing away the whole project/adventure when I can't get it right the first few times.  I am learning what works and what doesn't work - I will give my projects/adventures time and give myself time to figure things out!
  • I will take risks, try new things, and allow things to happen naturally.  

Here's a great quote I think you should read each week for the year 2016~~~























(Image: "I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” 
~Neil Gaiman)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

First step in new year's resolution

In a few more days it will be a new year and so many of you might be thinking about your new year's resolutions.  As you are thinking about this I ask you to reflect on what your primary goal is - often it is to have a happy life or for happiness.

Happiness is not an end destination but a theme that run through your daily life based on the choices you make.  

So as you are making your list - focus on things that will give you a will lived life - a life with integrity. 

If you want a good relationship than put effort into that relationship to make it good - don't just hope that things work out.

If you want to be healthier than write goals that will help you live a healthy life.

You get the picture, right - focus on what you want & it will expand.  


Monday, December 28, 2015

5 Lessons about friendship

As 2015 comes to an end I want to reflect on 5 lessons I have learned over the years regarding friendships.  

1~  Not everyone is worthy of being your friend. It is okay to be friendly with many people but only those you can trust should you let into your inner friend circles.  Some people only want to be your friend to get their own needs met. 

2~ Your inner friend circles should have different levels.  When you do let someone into your inner friend circles they must earn their way through the levels. How fast the friend go through these levels will vary depending on the person and some may never reach the inner core of your true self.  Friends can move up and down on the different levels but only a very select few should be allowed in this inner core.  These levels are not games but designed to keep you safe and protected.

3~ Let your inner friends know you really care about them. A few years ago my childhood friend Matt was in the hospital for New Years due to a diabetic problem.  Trying to cheer him up I told him "hey, things can't get worse - the year can only go up from here."  Well, I was wrong. Soon I received word from Matt's wife that he went into a diabetic coma and passed away.  He will be forever missed by his wife, two young boys, and his friends.  A few weeks prior to his death, Matt and I met for coffee to discuss our kids and catch up on events. Matt's death was an important lesson for me to make sure those in my inner friend circles know that they matter to me because you never know how much time we have left.

4~ Friendships are not always equally balanced. Since we are all living our own lives we will need friends at different times and in varying degrees. There will be times when your friend needs a shoulder to cry on and you need to be strong and other times when you have hit rock bottom and you need the strength of your friends to help you up.  You should also understand that not all friends will be able to give you what you need.  Your core inner friends are the ones that will be there for you at your worst.  They are the ones that will fight for you when you have no more strength to fight for your self.  

5~ Not all friendships last forever. There will be times when you realize that you are doing all the care-taking.  You will discover that your needs are not being met. This usually happens in times of crisis when you look for support from that friend and each time they are not there for you. When a friendship becomes one-sided it is time to move that person to a different level in the inner friend circle or out of the circle. It isn't always easy to notice this at first because we care so much for this friend and can't believe that they are actually ignoring or abandoning us in our times of need but eventually we realize we are chasing after them. You will notice that you have shared something very personal and your friend goes MIA or is all of a sudden busy.  You keep reaching out to them but notice that you are the one texting/calling/emailing them first. When you are in crisis you should not be the one hunting your friends down they should be there for you. If you are the only one fighting to keep a friendship going then it is time to let go.  If that person wants you in his/her life they will work on repairing the friendship. It's okay for friends to get overwhelmed and not be able to give what you need at the time you need it but true friends tell you this and never abandon you.      

So, in 2016 think about your friendships.  I love this Jon Katz quote:  "I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you.  Don't walk away, don't be distracted, don't be too busy or tired, don't take them for granted.  Friends are a part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff."



Friday, December 25, 2015

Not everyone likes Christmas

Today is Christmas!  Some people are not celebrating Christmas due to religions reasons but there are also people not celebrating today for other reasons.  There are even people who are celebrating today but it is only for show.  

This post today is for those who struggle with December and Christmas. 

You don't have to explain to others why you don't celebrate or like this time of year. In fact, don't worry about having to explain because most of the time other people won't even notice because they are caught up in their own lives & your life will be oblivious to them.   

I just wanted you to know that you are not alone out there.  There are probably more of us than you know.  

Remember to keep positive and just ignore all those things that bring you pain, sorrow, unhappiness.... Let them go!  Focus on the positive things you have in your life and the positive people who make it better.  It is hard to let go of our past but I know we must to keep on going.  

Here's a special message~~~  Thanks for being a part of my Hero's Journey.  Together we are stronger.  Support and trust are difficult but vital so thanks for never giving up on me & know I will not give up on you!  As the narrator of my life I am choosing to perceive it the way I want it to be and not the way others want me to see the world.   Always know I have deep love and devotion to you and you will always be in my heart!  Because of this love I will make everyday magical I will just make today, Christmas, more magical for myself in my own special way!  



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Letting it go

It has been a few days since I posted anything because I had surgery (anterior cervical spine fusion C5-C7) almost a week ago.  

I had heard really good things about this surgery and went in with a positive attitude that my surgery will turn out well.  I am glad to say the surgery did turn out well. I do have a few complications in the recovery process. I didn't realize that "your throat will be sore" actually meant you will be in severe pain and not be able to swallow liquid or food.  I have never had to actually chew Jello before and I choke on sips of water.  The good news is things are slowly getting better every day.

The other area that did not turn out as expected is how I would be supported in recovery.  I don't know why I expected that I would come home the day of surgery and others would help take over my job duties.  Oh, I know why I expected this.... the doctor told me that I was to just sit back and don't do anything but focus on getting better. 

Well, I am the kind of person who hates to see my job duties not completed so I have still been washing dishes, cleaning the house, cooking meals, wrapping gifts, and even doing some last minute Christmas shopping with one of my kids.  I had expected the people in my life to stop me from doing these things when I started doing them or prevent me from even starting by having them already done.  

Please understand I am not complaining about those in my life who have not been taking care of me.  They are all doing the best they can. I am actually admitting that I had unrealistic expectations... AGAIN!  

It has been a big "ah-ha" moment for me to realize that my expectations for others are still too high.  I have always had these dreams that others will do things for me, celebrate things with me, want to help me, listen to me, or even really get to know me and then boom these ideas explode like a overfilled balloon.  

So I have decided the best way for me to get through this holiday season is to just let go.  I will let go of my disappointment and let the past be the past.  I can't change the way things have happened or how other people act but I can choose to let go and let the past be the past.  

I wrote this today to let it out of my system so I can move on.  Here it is out in the open and now I will just let it go.  I will be realistic and know that I will be hurt in the future by exceptions because it is my nature to want to be treated a specific way and once in a while. I will always have dreams that I will be treated like I matter. 



  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday - empowerment

"I was once told that I wouldn't be successful in my life by a teacher who was trying to motivate me to work harder.  I was working as hard as I could.  I am a success now but it was not because this teacher tried to make me feel bad about not being able to read but because I had great parents who told me that I didn't have to believe the opinions teachers have about me.  My parents helped me learn that the opinions of others are just that, opinions and the thing that matters is my opinion of myself."

*quote from a graduate student with dyslexia.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Just keep going......


Sometimes you will feel like you don't want to keep going because you don't have a clear vision of where you are going so you don't know if you are even heading in the right direction.  I say.... keep on going.  Don't give up and keep moving.  I know you are worried that you might not be going in the right direction and waste a lot of time and energy but I say...  Don't worry you are learning so much on this adventure.  There are no wrong directions because we can learn so much from the experiences we have and the people we meet.  The key is ... Don't give up!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The importance of changing Learned Helplessness in students with disabilities


RE-SHARING!!!  This is so important to understand please pass-along to anyone who works with kids!

Why do some students with learning disabilities (LD) succeed while others appear unmotivated, fail, or drop out?  The answer is quite simple.  The LD students who are more successful have grit – tenacity.  The LD students who are not achieving academic success have developed learned helplessness.  Students do not develop learned helplessness because teachers and/or parents coddle the students, do things for them, or make things too easy.  Learned helplessness is a condition in which the student has come to believe that he/she is helpless in a situation and events are out of his/her control. Learned helplessness is so damaging to a student and is the reason many quit rather than try harder, procrastinate, and even experience emotional problems. As an Educational Coach, Therapist, and Psycho-educational Diagnostician I will enlighten you on learned helplessness and changes that need made to help all LD students. 

BACKGROUND:

Decades ago, a psychologist, Martin Seligman, performed some experiments on dogs. Here’s the abridged version.  The researchers put dogs into different situations where they were placed in cages (shutter boxes).  Some dog were placed in a cage where they received an electric shock but were able to end the shock by pressing a lever, while other dogs were placed in a cage where they experienced random shocks but had NO ability to make the shock stop or escape.  The dogs who had some control over their negative experiences recovered quickly but the dogs who could not escape or stop the pain learned to be helpless, gave up, and displayed clinical depressive symptoms.   Later the dogs were placed 
in another box and only needed to jump over to the other side to escape the pain.  The dogs who learned they could control their environment jumped over the small barrier quickly.  The dogs who had no control over their situation continued to display helpless behaviors and instead of escaping the situation they just laid down and whined; they didn’t even try.   Would we call these dogs lazy, unmotivated, or coddled?  No we would not, the dogs had learned to be helpless.  No matter what, they could not change their environment or situation even if they had a desire to change– they were stuck. 


HOW THIS RELATES TO STUDENTS WITH LD:

More research has occurred over the past decades focused on learned helplessness and we have discovered that it happens in humans as well.   We are now able to understand why kidnap victims do not seize the opportunity to escape or why a battered spouse stays in an abusive relationship.  We also now understand why some students with LD give up.  

When students attend school, they are stuck.  The law says that a student MUST be in school and unless you are homeschooled you cannot just leave when you are feeling scared, vulnerable, stupid, or sometimes even sick.   Classroom management techniques are designed to assure that the teacher has all the power so students are controlled.  Granted, these classroom management techniques are often necessary but think about how similar they are to the cage the dogs were stuck in – quite similar in fact but with windows and more people.  

Now, some of these students will experience a great deal of negative pain while in these classrooms because they have LD.  They will watch other students grasp concepts and ideas quicker and with ease while they struggle.  These students with LD will also watch teachers praise and give positive attention to students who are being academically successful but they themselves cannot seem to achieve this academic success no matter how hard they try.  Often despite trying exceptionally hard, teachers send clear messages to these students that they are perceived as lazy, unmotivated, not working hard enough, not working up to their potential…  Wow, more shocking pain that they cannot escape and these LD students experience intense shame (Shaming needs to stop post).   

Students with LD often have the intellectual capabilities to be academically successful but have the false perception that they lack these abilities and have learned that trying hard or putting in effort has no positive effect.  Remember, a student’s perception is his/her reality.  So, even if they are gifted and LD they may still experience learned helplessness.  Learned helplessness undermines the student’s motivation to learn, reduces the student’s ability to learn, establishes ineffective learning strategies, and deteriorates school performance.

Over time these students with LD end up just giving up and accepting their fate that they are stupid, will never learn, or will always fail anyway so why try.  This is why there is a high dropout rate by the way!  And let’s not forget that with these feelings of learned helplessness are other problems such as: anxiety, depression, stress, suicide…   Which is why I work hard to help teachers understand that students should never be labeled as a student with a behavior problem or lazy – the behaviors are a symptom of a deeper issue and behaviors often stems from learned helplessness and shame. 


FIXING THE PROBLEM:

Studies have provided evidence that the teacher-student dynamic is a major factor that contributes to the development and maintenance of learned helplessness.   This is not because teachers intend to create this environment for students but because when the student struggles and displays learned helplessness behaviors, positive reinforcements and support seldom occurs.   An LD student experiencing learned helplessness will not be motivated to do better by receiving bad grades which often is frustrating for teacher who in turn give up on trying to even help the student.  Let’s face it, teaching students who are motivated is much easier than teaching students who struggle and display self-defeating behaviors.

Ways the system needs to change:
Teach and embrace differences.  Many schools have been willing to focus on cultural and racial diversities yet few focus on learning diversities as a whole.  Some teachers are educating their students in their own classrooms about learning differences and the importance of accepting how everyone learns but this is hardly done at a district level.  School districts are focused on Academic Excellence- praising and rewarding students and teachers who are high achievers.  Yes, we want students to be achieving but school districts are “doing it wrong.”  Success in school should not be defined in regards to high scores but instead, success should be defined as progress and improvement.  Improving the academic knowledge and self-esteem of students should be the focus of all education.  School districts also need to eliminate the shaming – discussed here: Stop the shaming post.        
School districts need to stop being afraid of the numbers (amount of students in special education) and just do what is right for all students!  I’m frequently in school meetings where I hear principals, school psychologists, or special education directors tell parents that their child doesn’t qualify for services.  This is often because the student “fits in the box” of average and therefore does not need the extra support services, accommodations, or intervention programs the parents (and myself since I diagnosed the student with a disability) believe are necessary.  We are not wanting arbitrary services and supports.  We see the struggles the child is dealing with.  We are standing outside the cage watching the child disintegrating from the pain and are trying to prevent learned helplessness.  It can be extremely frustrating watching the school district continue to press the shock button over and over and refusing to help stop the pain.  By the way, I have never met a parent who has asked the school for help when the child did not need the help but I have experienced many school district refuse to provide help when it is explicitly clear what needs to be done. 
Teachers need to stop using red ink all over the papers!   When teachers focus on errors, they are teaching students that failing is wrong/bad and that it isn’t okay to make mistakes.  In reality we really do learn more from the mistakes we make than the things we get right so we need to help students embrace errors.  The score at the top of the paper should be the number the student received correct.  The answers the students got wrong should be identified and the students should be taught how to go back over their mistakes, relearn (or be retaught) the material, and correct the mistakes. This technique should be taught as early as kindergarten and continue until the student graduates cause the goal is for students to learn, isn’t it?   Some students will need to be re-taught the material they missed in a different way because what the errors (poor grades) tells us is the student has failed to learn the information.   Sometimes teachers have gotten into the habit of thinking that the F means that the student has failed to study, or the student failed to listen, or the student has failed to apply him/herself, or the parents failed to do their part… 
This leads me to the next important thing that needs changed - blame.  To learn everyone needs to participate, the students, parents, and most importantly the teachers.  The teachers are the leaders here and if a student is not progressing and improving in their learning most of this responsibility needs to fall on the teachers shoulders.  I have heard many teachers place blame on the students and/or parents.  When a student struggles with learned helplessness the teacher needs to add specific strategies to help guide the student out of their perceived electric cage.  Most students with learned helplessness require a teacher to be explicit in their instructions and take time to meet with the student one-on-one to provide assistance.  Remember, an LD student hears comments such as “Your written response is sloppy and poorly written” as criticism (an electric shock) so focus on positive constructive comments such as “Let’s think of another way to answer this problem.”  This demonstrates that you, as the teacher, really do care and are willing to help alleviate the pain.  This does not mean that you as the teacher are doing the work.  You are guiding the student on how to do the work, rewarding them for their effort, and providing the student an opportunity to feel success. 
Remember that students with learned helplessness have learned to just give up so they may be resistant to help.  Think of them as a traumatized dog that just left the cage and the shocks were conditioned with human contact – the dogs will then avoid humans.  So when interacting with these students focus on the things the student does well and avoid focusing on what they are doing wrong or it will only make them more resistant and have increased avoidance.  I coach many LD students with learned helplessness and know that they do not want to have failing grades, they don’t want to feel stupid.  These students really just want the pain to stop but have no idea how.  Parents often try to help but they often have to spend their evenings trying to glue pieces of their child’s shattered self-esteem back together (these students frequently come home and let out all their anxiety, fears, and frustrations).  Teachers can help alleviate this pain.  One of the common themes in LD students with grit, is they had at least one teacher/mentor who believed in them so they in turn started to believe in themselves.  They had teachers/mentors who never gave up on them even when the times got tough and helped teach them that failing doesn’t make them a failure.  We all need people in our lives to help instill motivation, especially these students with learned helplessness.

Finally, we need to change the structure of our educational system to include instructions on developing grit and tenacity.  To be straight forward here – schools should focus less on developing new curriculums like the “Common Core” and put more energy into developing programs to teach grit, tenacity, and perseverance.  To learn more about this read, Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21stCentury.  

Just think of how much better a school district would be if they could actually educate students to be successful in the world by having a positive self-esteem and grit.  I hypnotize that our prison population would decrease and we would have more productive high achieving citizens. 

Here is an activity that is similar to the one I do when teaching college classes and for professional develop workshops for schools it's only a few minutes long and is a great example of how easy it is to develop learned helplessness. (if the video doesn't appear below click the link to get to the video)





(Image below: picture of an adult female sitting with her arm around a young male who is looking at a book and has a distressed look on his face.  A quote from Sutherland & Singh's book 'Learned Helplessness and Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders: Deprivation in the Classroom-' "Students who are repeatedly exposed to school failure are particularly at risk for the development of learned helplessness." Then my explanation of learned helplessness from the research - "How to know if a student is experiencing learned helplessness: *Takes little independent initiative * Prefers easy problems & avoids hard problems * Makes negative or degrading comments about own ability *If fails one part of a task is certain to fail entire task *Gives up easily *Stops trying or avoids difficult academic work *Does not respond with pride when talking about academics *Does poorly despite having ability)



References if you need them:

Schunk, D. H. (1984). Sequential attributional feedback and children's achievement behaviors. Journal of Educational Psychology 76(6), 1159–1169.
Seligman, M.E.P. (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H.Freeman.
Sutherland, K.S., & Singh, N.N. (2004). Learned Helplessness and Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders: Deprivation in the Classroom. Behavioral Disorders, 29(2), 169-181.
Tollefson, N. (2000). Classroom applications of cognitive theories of motivation. Educational Psychology Review, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 63-83.



Sunday, December 6, 2015

Creating the life you want!

Did you know that YOU are the one who creates your life?  You have power to make your life what you want it to be and you are the one who creates YOU!  

Maybe you didn't feel you had the power to changes certain things but you do have the power.  You don't have control over everything but there is so much you do have control over.  Two things you have control over are - your own attitude and how much energy you put into something.  

So don't give up.  Keep working toward your goals and you will create the life you want!  You need to be focused on what you want!  What you focus on you expand so keep focused on what you want to become and you will eventually get there.    Keep posted here because in 2016 I will guide you toward this life you want to create.  In the meantime start thinking about what you want your life to be like!  


Friday, December 4, 2015

Someone you should know: Caiseal Mor, Autistic Artist

People often do not understand Autism and Asperger's.  There is this crazy belief that people on "The Spectrum" do not have creativity or imagination.  This is WRONG!  This is the problem: People are assuming that the desire for structure, consistency, and routines means a person lacks creativity and imagination.  These are very different and should NOT be confused.  People on "The Spectrum" are able to be very creative and imaginative.  One of the symptoms of autism is to look for a lack of pretend or imaginative play; but who are we to judge what is pretend or imaginary if we don't know what is going on in the child's head?  

It is no wonder why there are so many children out there misdiagnosed.  To make matters worse there is a negative perception of the Autism and Asperger's labels. This is why it is vital to make sure the person diagnosing you or your child has the knowledge and expertise in all types of disabilities (you know the saying "to a hammer everything looks like a nail").  Make sure they are experts in all these disabilities - that is the KEY!   

Here's someone you should know:  Caiseal Mor!  Check out the creativity from a person diagnosed with Autism.  Isn't he great! Isn't it great to openly accept people for the gifts they give the world instead of perceiving that something is wrong with them because they are not like the "average" population?



He also has a interesting website you must check out: http://www.mahjee.com/mahjeedrums.html





Monday, November 30, 2015

Motivational Monday seek your own adventure

As the weather gets colder and the winter is approaching it is easy to lose yourself and your goals.  Instead of being motivated to keep after your goals you may decide it is better to curl up with a good movie or book.  Now is the time to focus again on what you would like your life to look like - where do you want to go in your life, what do you want to do?  So on a cold brisk day, take some time out to write down a list of at least 3 goals you want to accomplish before the end of 2015.  Come on, get off the couch and get this done then you can go back to that movie or book.  

Tomorrow once you have had a full night to think about your 3 goals focus on one and go for it right now - head out on your adventure to achieve this goal (either figuratively or literally). 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Cartoon Saturday - Thanksgiving too short!

I struggle trying to understand how we, as Americans can spend one Thursday being grateful and giving thanks then spend the next four days on materialism.  

I wish we had a simpler life where we spend days appreciating people in our lives and the things we already have.  Instead we are pushed into consumerism!  


Friday, November 27, 2015

3 ways to celebrate your goals!








While on your hero's journey you will have some adventures where you will work harder and face more challenges. You will set out on a quest that is almost impossible. You will put in a lot of effort and energy.  You will give it your all -- every ounce of your blood, sweat, and tears!  You will eventually reach your goal and achieve something you at times thought you'd never conquer. 

People in your life are aware that this was a hard adventure and you worked diligently to reach a goal.  Finally, you reached this goal and expect that these people would be as excited as you. You will expect them to want to celebrate to the same degree that you want to celebrate. 

The thing is, not everyone will be excited for you.  Some of these people will be jealous and that you reached a goal that was hard because they know they will never reach that goal.  Some of these people will be so caught up in their own lives that they will not even be aware of how hard this goal was and how important it is to celebrate; so they will do nothing but say "hey congratulations."   

Hopefully, chances are you will have a few people in your life that will actually be as excited as you are about achieving this goal and be willing to throw you a party, announce it to the world for you, buy you a small token/gift to honor the event, or take you to a special lunch/dinner. 

There's also a chance that you will not have anyone in your life that will step up and celebrate this goal you worked so hard to achieve. You must always remember that Fairy Tales do not exist.  No one will come to slay the dragons or assure that there is a big feast to celebrate if you are the one that slays the dragon.  Therefore, YOU must be your own hero.  

So make sure that YOU give yourself the kudos you deserve. Don't wait for someone to celebrate your hard earned goal because this may only lead to disappointment and heartbreak.  Take control over your celebration as you took control over earning this achievement! 

Here are 3 things you can and should do to give yourself the affirmation you deserve!

1~ Send out your own announcements so you can let everyone know.  Some people may perceive that it is bragging if you share with them that you earned a degree, opened a business, started a new career, or won a battle with an illness/injury but don't let that stop you.  There is nothing wrong with sharing your accomplishments with the people in your life.  Don't post it on a social media post ~~ make it special by sending it via mail!  

2~ Reward yourself with something very special and meaningful.  Here are a few ideas: a piece of jewelry (special charm, ring, or pendent related to the event), a piece of art work, a plant (something hearty & will last long), a book, or you could even get something pierced or a tattoo.   It doesn't have to cost a lot of money it just has to be something tangible so you can keep it forever to remind yourself of the hard work you put into your goal and that you achieved this goal!  For example you could collect beads for each goal you reach and a very special bead for major achievements and keeps these on a string.  

3~ Take some quiet time alone to reflect on your hard work and achievement.  This can be sipping a glass of wine, beer, or even coffee.  You can do this alone at your favorite restaurant, outside at a park, or at your own kitchen table.  Reflect on how much effort you put into this goal and how you finally reached the end destination.  Say to yourself "I'm so proud of you~~ you did it!"  Take as long as you need to soak in all what you have done and then start thinking of your new goals.  Remember that what we focus on we expand and life is not about the end destination but about the journeys we have along the way.  So start making plans for your next hero's journey.     


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ways to deal with unwanted advice, judgment, and opinions from family and friends during the holiday season

 It is the holiday time again and I think it is important to discuss ways to stay positive when feeling judged by family and friends.  Sometimes others do not understand what it is like to be a Dragonfly or to raise a Dragonfly which leads to unwanted advice, judgment, and opinions.    Comments can range from the covert "Where is his/her coat?" to the more overt "My child would NEVER do/act like that."  or "If they were MY child they would behave." 

First, remember you have the power to choose how you will react do not let them control your behavior with their words.

Second, know that you will NOT change a person's opinions or beliefs unless they are open to changing these opinions and beliefs.  

Third, try one of these tactics depending on what is said:

  • Explain instead of defend: "Oh I thought you knew my son/daughter has [Asperger's, Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD, Dysgraphia...].  His/her behaviors/choices are related to the way the brain is developed.  There's actually a lot to learn about [diagnosis] if you are ever interested I'll share some of the research with you."
  • Use sarcasm: "Oh, my child has [diagnosis].  What's your excuse for being rude?"  Or, "I'm so glad to know that your parenting skills are so great and your children turned out perfect.  God probably knew that you couldn't handle challenges so He gave you calm and compliant children.  God knows I'm strong and therefore He gave me these extra special children who needed a great parent." 
  • Use humor:  "Yep, my son/daughter is working on his/her superpowers.  He/she has yet to master the ability to break windows with his/her scream."  
  • Ignore the comment and change the subject:  "Oh, hey, I saw on Facebook that you just got a new job what are you doing now."  Or "That's a beautiful sweater where did you get it?  Don't tell me you made it yourself."  
Fourth, you need to know these opinions, judgement, and beliefs are often said out of ignorance, insecurity, or rudeness.  Sometimes people really thinks they are being helpful, but most of the time people just believe that their opinions of parenting are the "correct" way and yours are wrong.  Remember Confirmation bias (see previous posts for details on this)

The key is to NOT take these thoughts, judgments, and opinions personal.  YOU are doing the best you can do and that is all that is needed.  You do not need to listen to the advice of others cause YOU are the expert - not them!  

Here's a great cartoon that I think is very funny and could make people more open and accepting.  


























**Note - I am not pushing meds so please no negative comments on how meds are not the solution.  I just thought this was funny!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cartoon Saturday - Soccer Mom

 Being a soccer mom is sometimes a full time job so for all those other sports mom's out there - this is for you:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Understanding the brain- The McGurk Effect!

Freaky Fun Fact Friday!  We can't always believe what we see and hear.  Do you know about the McGurk Effect?  Watching this video to learn all about it - hmmm interesting right?  This is why it is difficult for some people to fully understand what people are saying and can cause miscommunication.  




Thursday, November 19, 2015

What brain are you?


The Sequential Brain VS the Spatial Brain
One is NOT better than the other ~~
Just different!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Motivational Monday - 3 ways to feel more secure and safe!

The world is a crazy place!  We can be told that the chance of getting murdered, raped, or harmed in a terrorist attack are actually statistically small but that doesn't ease anxiety and fear.  

Turn on the news and you will see a lot of negative in the world around you.  I want you to know that you do have some power and control over your own emotions.  You can reduce these feelings of anxiety and fear for yourself and your loved ones.

3 Ways to feel more secure and safe:

1~ Stop fueling the fire of negative!  What we focus on we expand so reduce the amount of time you are watching, reading, and interacting with the negative events.  Get just enough information to be informed and then turn the TV off or put on something positive.  Read only one or two articles in a day - don't let it consume you.  Finally, do NOT post propaganda of any kind on your social media or interact with those who do post this kind of information.  If you are the kind of person who feels the need to "educate" others on the reality of a situation please understand that you are NOT really educating anyone.  Each person has their own beliefs and a post on social media will not change anyone's point of view.

2~ Know who really matters to you in your life!  Make a list of the people in your life that really matter to you.  We have a lot of people in our lives that are surface people.  Surface people are the ones that we don't really connect with at a deeper level.  You need to know exactly who matters to you in your life so you can spend more energy on them and less energy on the surface people.  Once you have your list made you need to take time each week to stay connected to each of those people.  You may not have had contact with them for years but that's okay - reach out to them now.  If someone matters to you than they should know it!  If something were to happen to you or someone who is important to you and you have been staying connected it is more comforting.  Reach out and let others know they matter.

3~ Finally, Embrace pain and bad things happening!  Bad things will happen and you have control over how you deal with this pain and negative events.  Put joy back in your life no matter what is going on in the outside world!  Here's my best mentor - Leo Buscaglia - watch and enjoy!!!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spiritual Sunday- How to show love

Take some time today to show your love to others.  We sometimes get caught up in our own lives that we forget to show others in our lives that we love them.  This is not showing them in ways that you would want someone to show you love - that's the Golden Rule.  If you are a follower you know that I don't agree with the Golden Rule, instead we need to practice the Platinum Rule (Why We Should NOT follow the Golden Rule).  

Today, pay attention to what the other person wants and treat them how THEY want to be treated.  If you are not sure how that person defines love then watch how they treat others (or you).  If they listen to you intently then they perceive this as a loving act so you should listen to them intently.  If they want to spend time with the people they love then that is how they will feel loved.  

The key is to focus on the other person's needs from the other person's perspective - NOT your perspective!  Think about what this cartoon shows:


























This is not a sign of love but a sign of egocentric thinking.  

So, today, please focus on the needs of someone else as a sign of love but do not do it with the expectation of getting something in return.  Show love to just show love and no other reason.  It will make your life better!

Here's one of my favorite quotes!  Everyone deserves to love and be loved.  Have a great Sunday my Dragonfly Friends!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Love all of you!

We are all complex.  We have in us both a dark side and a light side.  Some people in our lives don't want to ever see our dark side. For you that person may even be yourself.  What we have to do is love ourselves as a whole not just specific parts of us.  You are worthy to be loved for who you are - all of you. Take time today to embrace yourself - all of you!  





Monday, November 9, 2015

3 questions to answer to live your own life - Motivational Monday




























Here’s a great quote that I use to bring me back to reality ~~  “Stop giving your life away to other people.”   Sometimes I get caught up in living unconsciously just doing what is expected of me as a wife, mother, counselor, business woman, and motivator.   I forget that it is very important for me to live authentically – putting me and my needs at the top of the list so I am not living my life to just please others. 

I’ll admit that this isn’t easy, especially if you are a parent.  Parents need to put their children at the top of their lists but we don’t need to let them control our lives.  I know this is difficult.  I’m the mother of three very active children that require a lot of support, transportation, money, time, energy, and guidance.  I have to be an active part of each of their journeys which could, if I allowed it to happen, completely consume my life. 

I sometimes get off of my path and lose my way so I pull out Steve Maraboli’s quote and remind myself that it is my life and I don’t have to give it away to others.  I deserve to live my own life. 
So how do you live your own life without giving it away to others?  Here are 3 questions you need to answer for yourself to get YOU back on your own path – or for the first time on your own path.

1- What makes you happy?  This question is huge and hopefully the answers are endless.  There is a lot of research over the decades on ‘happiness.’  The results of these studies provide us evidence that happy people have more satisfying relationships and marriages, have higher success (larger incomes & job satisfaction), better health, and live longer.  The problem is many people don’t even know what makes them happy.  Yes, they know of a few things that make them happy but have never really delved into the question about what happiness means to them and investigating what makes them happy.  So start answering these questions for yourself.  Don’t answer that winning the lottery would make you happy – yes, that probably would because you would be free to do more things that make you happy but what are THOSE things?  I also want you to exclude material items in your list of things that make you happy.  Material items do not make us happy.  We become happy because the material items gives us a specific feeling – what feeling are you trying to obtain?  What makes you light up?  What do you enjoy doing?  What do you enjoy experiencing?  Make a list and make sure it is long!!!  Get to know yourself! 

2- Are you saying yes when you want to say no?  Are you doing things with the wrong intentions?  Often we do things with the wrong intentions.  We agree to helping with a committee for the wrong reasons – because we want to appear as helpful, we feel guilty because no one is stepping up, we are forced to do something… the list goes on and on.  We are giving away our time and energy to others but feel resentful in the end.  Sometimes this may need to occur because it is a part of your job (professionally or parenting) but don’t let it get out of control.   The negative emotions of anger, resentment, bitterness may build up if you keep giving away your time, effort, and energy to a group, committee, or even to another person.  If you are not feeling some pleasure and happiness from the exchange than you need to rethink why you continue to engage.  This doesn’t mean you give up supporting others it just means you need to put up some boundaries.  Don’t allow yourself to be used!   You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.  If you think that others will respect and appreciate you because you are always giving than you are very wrong.  People will continue to take advantage of you and your own happiness may actually go down.   

3 – How much do you put your needs and desires first each day?  I know some people who give so much of themselves that they hardly ever take care of their own needs.   So each day you need to do at least 3 things for yourself!  Put you first!   You can eat something you want to eat, watch what you want to watch, go somewhere you want to go…. again the list should be endless.  Do something that makes you happy.  This doesn’t mean it has to be selfish.  Maybe you can pay it forward anonymously in some way or do something special for a loved one.  The key is to make decisions for yourself at least 3 times a day. 


Finally, remember that you deserve to live a happy life.  Yes, you really do!      

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Spiritual Sunday - 3 ways to protect yourself

I missed out on Cartoon Sunday yesterday due to intense pain from a previous injury resulting from a car accident way back in February.   When in pain it is sometimes hard to see that there is hope that the pain will ever end.  To survive we must learn ways to protect ourselves from other types of pain such as emotional pain.  

In order to protect yourself remember these 3 things:

1- You don't owe anyone an explanation as to why you can't do something.  If the person is in your life and knows that you are in pain than shame on them for expecting you to do things you are not capable of doing.  Don't feel guilty that you can't do the things they normally expect from you.  You must get better.

2 - Love yourself!  You need to treat yourself as you would treat someone you love very much.  Put yourself first.  If you are a person who always puts others before yourself you will not heal and then others will just expect you to take care of them only - if that happens go back to #1 and remember you don't have to explain just focus on healing!  

3 - Finally, do really focus on healing.  Being in pain can be stressful and if you are focused on how others are expecting too much from you or how others don't seem to even care about taking care of you than you are NOT focused on getting yourself better. Focus on the things that make you feel better physically and emotionally.  

The more you focus on your own healing, let go of the guilt that you can't do the things you normally do, stop expecting others to care about your pain and needs, and treat yourself with love and kindness you will get better faster.  

I know these steps are hard to do but you can do it!  Just put on an armor and protect yourself.  






















One final note - if people in your life do not respect that you are in pain (or ill) and are not willing to take care of you then they don't need to be in your life.  These people only want to use you for what they can get.  Relationships should be supported both ways!  



  

Monday, November 2, 2015

5 ways to help someone in chronic pain - emotional and/or physical

Many people are in chronic pain.  This pain may be physical or emotional but it is pain and it is real.  

There's no such thing as a pain meter that can actually tell how much pain the person is experiencing.  I sure wish that there was such a thing because when other people are not feeling the pain themselves they often do not understand.  

For the person experiencing the pain it becomes even more painful to hear comments from others that minimize and/or disregard this pain.  People in pain don't want your advice.  We have already researched everything possible because we don't want to be this way.  We don't want to hear about your pain if it is nothing like ours.  Yes a paper-cut hurts but unless you are dealing with this pain everyday for an extended period of time you really don't understand.  

We know that you are trying to make things better and you feel helpless so here are 5 things you can do and say to someone with chronic pain. 

1.  Validate~  Sometimes all that needs to be said is... "I believe you," "I see how hard you are trying and you are being so strong," and "Thanks for taking some time to talk to me or be with me, I appreciate you spending some of your energy on me."  

2.  Don't ask--DO~ Instead of asking "what can I do" just do something.  A person with chronic pain is used to being ignored when they share their pain and ask for help.  It puts the person in chronic pain on the spot to feeling more helpless by making them come up with ways others can help them.  Instead do something for them they might struggle with doing themselves.  Instead of making them a meal you could give them a gift card for a take-out meal, if they have kids - take them somewhere or transport them to and from places, look around and see what the person isn't able to complete themselves and just step in and help out.  People with chronic pain don't want to impose on others so just help!  

3.  Listen & I mean really LISTEN~  People often say...  "I'm here to listen" but when the person starts to share about their pain, troubles, anxiety, depression... the person doesn't really listen.  The reason is because no one really wants to hear these things.  So if someone starts to share then really listen - use reflective listening. Reflective listening is making sure the other person feels heard and validated.  If you are giving advice or sharing a story about yourself or someone you know that is NOT reflective listening.

4.  Learn all you can~  Learn about the other person's condition.  If you really care about this person you will take the time to research their condition on your own.  The more you know the better support you will be.  You may think you understand about depression and anxiety but you probably really don't know as much as you should.  You also probably don't know much about hidden disabilities/illnesses so do your research.

5.  Remember we often wear a mask~  The smile we wear on our face is there because we need it to function everyday.  It is often there to hide what is really going on.  If a mask is not worn than others don't want to be around us at all and we are not only in pain but now alone and in pain.  Look beyond the mask.  Don't assume that just because we say we are "fine" and wear a smile on our face that we are not in pain. 

Chronic pain is real and wrecks havoc on the mind and body.  It takes a lot of energy to function on a daily basis.  It is exhausting! People in pain don't want to be in pain but they do want to be understood and supported.