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, May 25, 2016

What is School Culture & Why it Needs to Change!

I am always on a mission to make schools a better place for ALL students.  As the school year is coming to an end I want to discuss the importance of school culture.   Sadly, I am in a lot of schools where the school culture is an 'Us versus Them' mentality.  The teachers and administrators see themselves as the experts and parents as the enemy.  This culture is not conducive to student learning.  I often hear from school staff members that it is the other way around (parents see the school as the enemy).  Educators need to have empathy to understand a parent perspective AND be in a school culture that is supportive to parents.  

Most parents are NOT educators so they do not know how to teach their child specific academic skills and they trust that the teacher is the expert.  When the student is not progressing or learning the parents become SCARED.  A parent panics and asks for help only to be told it is them, the home environment, and/or the child. The reason behind this belief is in yesterday's blog post: "The Blame Game! Are School Problems the Kids' Fault?" by Pam Wright.  Educators should put themselves in the position of the parent and see it from their point of view.  If educators are the professionals they should be the ones to make the process better and not worse for parents and students.  Educators should not become defensive when a parent is upset. The parent may sound like it is a personal attack against the teacher but the parent is really upset with the culture of the school, which allows the blaming and shaming to occur.  

Here's a quick video that explains a little about culture in a school by Anthony Muhammad:

I have written a number of times about school culture and one that went viral shared thousands of times was "How to Have a Positive School to Build Self-esteem of All Students."    The culture of the schools in our country need to change.  All our children need to be an a culturally healthy environment! 

PLEASE, watch this video and share it with everyone in the educational system.  Get Anthony Muhammad's books - read them and share them!!!   Here are a list of his books that are a must read for every parent, teacher, administrator, and school board member:  Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division (2009) and The Will to Lead, the Skill to Teach: Transforming Schools at Every Level (2011).  

Direct link to Moving the Bus Forward: Creating Healthy Learning Environments for All Students

In a healthy school culture, NO student should be failing-- it is just unacceptable!  Teachers know that all students have the ability to succeed -they, as teachers, just need to tap into the right motivation and techniques to educate students.  Dr. Muhammad writes in his book The Will to Lead, the Skill to Teach: Transforming Schools at Every Level (2011- p. 23)- "In his definition, Kent Peterson identifies four student characteristics that are prerequisites for school success: concern, attentiveness, prior knowledge, and compliance.  Any educator would agree that these are important assets in the learning process and that not all students arrive at school predisposed to these characteristics.  In toxic cultures, students are blamed for not possessing these characteristics, which releases adults from the responsibility of properly educating every student.  This mentality is in direct conflict with the objective of public schools - learning for all." 

So if your child attends a school where it is acceptable for some students to receive grades of D's and F's then your child is in a TOXIC culture (which means the student is NOT learning the necessary information - more about this in The Reason Behind Grades and How to Make Them Valid).  If you have ever been to a school meeting where a school staff member blamed or shamed you or your child then this is a TOXIC school culture.  There is no empathy for the parent of the student if blaming and shaming are occurring just because a student is NOT learning in a "typical" fashion and needs to be taught more explicitly.  We as a society need to stop failing our children and make changes to the whole school system not just the curriculum (common core...).  This article was written to enlighten you to the importance of school culture.  I will have future articles on how to improve school culture.  In the meantime read the books suggested to educate yourself!  

Want to learn more go to Dr. Muhammad's website: New Frontier 21.  Also, as an Educational Coach and Consultant I contract with schools to help build healthier school cultures so if interested in direct support contact me- Jill Lam MS.Ed, LPCC at Forest Alliance Coaching- 614-785-6405.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How to be honest with yourself and why - Toolkit Tuesday

Let's face it - we are not always honest.  We are not honest with others and we are not honest with ourselves.  It is not easy to openly face all of our flaws.  When we realize that we have made some choices that are not the wisest choices due to a specific action or inaction we use a variety of defense mechanisms to make ourselves feel better.  We may deny, rationalize, justify, displace, project, intellectualize - and so on.

This isn't the healthiest and productive course of action.  I stress often how we have to be mindful- mindful of the things going on around us, mindful of the details of life, and mindful of our authentic selves.  

We can't fully accept, embrace, and love ourselves until we are fully open and honest with ourselves.  Don't worry, we don't have to share the details of this honesty with anyone else.  But we really need to be honest with ourselves!  

So, what does it mean to be entirely honest with oneself?  It means:

Analyzing each and every action asking yourself - why did I make that decision?  Why did I choose that course of action?  Why did I say what I said?  Why did I choose to not say something?  Why did I choose to not participate or avoid something or someone?  

Repeat- After you answer these questions to yourself confront yourself and ask if you are really being honest.  It's not easy to admit that we did something with bad or wrong intentions so we may use a defense mechanism because it is uncomfortable to face reality.  But we must face reality and be honest with our true intentions.  

Practice- Every day take time to reflect on your action and inactions - practice over and over being honest with yourself and confront yourself when you are not being fully honest. 

So, what is the consequence of being fully honest with ourselves? It is living a happier, productive, more fulling life!  You will get to know yourself better and that is one of your missions on your Hero's Journey.  You will be a better friend, partner, and parent because you will be mentally strong and healthy.  Now, start this practice today and watch it change your life.  I will give you a warning that it will be scary if you are doing it right - we don't really like see ourselves all naked and vulnerable and those darn defense mechanisms will keep coming into your thoughts but with time and practice you will break through these feelings of fear and anxiety.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Transforming over time being a dragonfly

Spiritual Sunday -
People often use the life cycle of a butterfly as a metaphor to explain how we grow and change.  
  • A small caterpillar pops out of a tiny egg and grows into a large caterpillar eventually stopping all that it is doing and turning itself into a chrysalis where it privately goes through a complete change physically and comes out of the chrysalis a new beautiful butterfly.  
I have never related to this because I don't see that one big change that made me beautiful and accepted by others and I don't feel that things are this simple.  I see life much more like the life cycle of a dragonfly...

Dragonflies start out their lives underwater and do not look anything like their final dragonfly form.  Here's a few different dragonfly larvae forms: 

This larval development can take 1-2 years to finally complete and during this time they go through the moulting process 5-14 times. 

This is a great example of what it is like to grow up - we experience the awkward changes over and over as we go through childhood and adolescents.  

Eventually we head into our adult world which is very different than the world of our childhood - like the dragonfly we must enter a totally different environment.  The young dragonfly come out of the water and molt again to live in a world outside the water.

Unlike butterflies, dragonflies don't go through a pupal stage where they completely melt and get reformed. Instead, dragonflies have been working on developing themselves all along so they evolve and transform! This process into an adult dragonfly doesn't just happen either.  The dragonfly doesn't just pop out all pretty and perfect.  This transformation is also a slow process where they dragonfly has to take time to become stronger and reach full stunning beauty.  

We take time to become the people we are becoming and it is a long and challenging process.  Like the young dragonfly we don't look anything like our adult selves and even when we become adults it takes time before we are finally a strong, amazing, and stunning being!  

I know that life is challenging for all creatures and for some the butterfly metaphors make the most sense to them, but for me - I relate to the life of a dragonfly.  

I have never really fit in and I have gone through so many of my own transformations as I discover more about myself, learn more, and grow.  As I have gotten older and more mature I've realized that I no longer need to survive in my old skin/environments... and I made a big transformation.  It wasn't easy and it didn't happen all at once.  I am still becoming stronger and enhancing my beauty!  


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Smile for strength!

I am smiling right now to give me strength and power.  I am smiling to fill myself with positive feelings.  If I don't smile right now my anger may consume me!  

Maybe I'll post later as to why I need to have a big smile on my face today - right now every time I start to share why I need my strength I lose my smile and the anger builds again.  So, once I get strong enough I'll let you all know what's going on because I'm sure my issues are similar to your issues.  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 16, 2016

How to do and be your best!

Motivational Monday - Coaching lesson...

In order to make a choice to do and be the best you can be each and every day you must understand what being and doing the best really means.  

Being and doing your best doesn't mean that things have to be perfect.  It doesn't mean that you will not make mistakes.  Many people have the crazy idea that being and doing the best means that they have to be flawless, a winner, wealthy, thin, admired by others, beautiful, never making mistakes, always successful.... This list could go on and on because most have no idea what exactly it means to be or do their best.

What doing and being your best really means:

~ You accept and love all of you.  You don't focus on obtaining physical perfection but instead accept yourself as you are and focus on being healthy.  Society has unrealistic standards of what people should look like.  For women we are bombarded with images and messages that we are not our best if we are not tall, thin, anorexic looking, smooth youthful skin...  Well, the majority of us don't look like these women so you have to stop thinking that this is the best - it is NOT!  Embrace yourself exactly how YOU look!  I'm not thin - I'm curvy!  I no longer have that youthful skin - I have saggy skin and many wrinkles but ummm I'm almost 50 years old I don't want to look like I'm 20 years old.  My eye wrinkles come from smiling, laughing, and loving life- they make me beautiful to me.  Remember that your opinion is the only one that matters in regards to how you look so love and appreciate all of you!

~ You value all the mistakes and failures that happen because you know that these are the best lessons we can learn and make us better and stronger.  Beating yourself up for making mistakes is not being the best you can be it is a form of self-abuse and self-bullying!  Doing your best is making mistakes - mistakes are great!

~ You know who you are, your likes, dislikes, thoughts, and opinions ... or you are working on discovering who you are!  You are not being the best you can be when you are following the opinions or actions of others without even knowing yourself.  You must define your box/yourself to be the best you can be and to do this you must really get to know why you like a certain color, song, book, movie, political candidate, movement, food... If you don't know who you are than you are not living authentically - not being your best!  BTW- if you ever need help discovering and defining yourself contact me at my office Forest Alliance Coaching or my Forest Alliance Coaching Facebook Page.

~ You are your own best friend. Each day you are the only one that you can count on to be there- so being the best you can be is also being your own best friend.  Support yourself and forgive yourself when you slip and treat yourself badly and have negative self-talk. When down, depressed, sad, overwhelmed - be there for yourself and lift yourself up!  Talk to yourself as you would talk to your own best friend!

~ You are doing your best when you take action!  Take the word try out of your vocabulary - remember Yoda "Do or do not - there is no try."  Every time you say the word try you are not doing your best!  Doing is action and try is inaction.  Replace the word try with other action words and you will see a difference in your own behavior.  The word try is an excuse.  For example, saying "I'll try to get the dishes done" actually gives your brain the sense that it will not really happen.  Instead say "I'll get the dishes done by the end of the day (or a specific time).  Taking the word "try" out of your vocab isn't easy but I promise it will make a positive difference in your life.

~Finally, doing your best means that for each activity you do you do it with integrity! Keep your intentions good for you and others.  If your intentions are negative, bad, to deceive.... than that is NOT being and doing your best!  

Best video & message- please watch Tim McGraw - Humble and Kind! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bono- 5 things I learned from Bono

Paul David Hewson - aka: Bono from the group U2 is very passionate about a lot of causes and great at bringing awareness to many who do not have a strong voice or no voice at all.  Today, May 10th is his birthday so here are 5 things I have learned from Bono and will share with you!  

1.)  Every person matters in this world and each of us has the power to make a difference.  It doesn't matter where we come from, what level our education, or how much money/status we have --- we all can make the world a better place!

2.)  Get to know other people - really get to know them, especially if they are different from you and have a opposite point of view. Find common ground with every person you get to know.  This will enlighten your mind and expand your world view.  

3.) What we focus on we expand so keep perspective on the positives. Face the reality of the negative but see the bigger picture and go toward intentional change!  Here's an amazing video of Bono doing just this... 

4.) Have faith and believe in yourself!  Many people believe that they have to have a lot of money, be famous, popular, large number of "likes" and "followers" to have value and worth.  This is so not true!  You have value and worth because you matter as a human being.  We all matter and we need to start having faith in ourselves. We need to value real people and not those that are famous and rich!

5.) Finally, I learned that our creative side needs to be expressed. Our creative side in our inner spirit and soul coming out in different forms of expression.  Nothing and no one is perfect.  Art isn't about perfection it is about self-expression.  Value the creative side of others as well.  I cannot sing or play an instrument but I can appreciate the creative side of others!  Bono once said "Music can change the world because it can change people."  This is so true and the music of U2 has made a strong impact on who I am as a person.  

I'll close with one of my favorite songs that enlightened me to see the world and experiences of others in a different light years ago. Miss Sarajevo is so powerful...