Education is not a preparation for life but is life itself. - John Dewey

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


For the past month or so, I have been visiting the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms talking about Bullying.  One concept that I've explored with the children has been the role of a bystander.  Who is a bystander?  How can a bystander make a difference?  When have you been a bystander and what happened?  What is the responsibility of a bystander?

Last week, I read "Wings" by Christopher Myers to the 5th graders.  I absolutely love Myers' collages and I thought that the class would also appreciate the dramatic tale of Ikarus Jackson.  They did.  We discussed the artwork, Ikarus and his wings, and the powerful impact of a bystander.

We talked about superpowers and how sometimes what makes us special, powerful even, can make us feel different.  The other kids (and adults) in the story took Ikarus' difference and used it as a tool for bullying.  But one bystander, with her courage and truth, celebrated Ikarus' wings.

What are your wings?  What is your superpower?  Has someone ever helped you when you had a tough time celebrating your differences?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Finding Stillness in One Moment

Have you felt it lately?  Maybe it crept in with the cooler weather, the high pressure slipping under a cold front.  It arrives without fail each autumn for me:  an ever-increasing tempo of obligations, expectations, and not-to-be-missed opportunities that snowball into Thanksgiving and then crash into the winter holidays.

My first line of defense is to just breathe.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Repeat. 

Breathe.  Relax the face.  The shoulders.  Breathe.  Let the world spin without me for one minute.  Maybe two.  Breathe.  Ground my feet.  Straighten my spine.  Find a lightness.

Breathe in peace.  Breathe out stress.  Breathe in expansion.  Breathe out confinement.  Breathe in acceptance.  Breathe out judgment.

I wake early in the morning to have my quiet moment of the day.  To sit with a cup of tea in the chilly darkness of the morning and connect with that which will always be, no matter what the day brings.  My breath.  This earth.  The stillness. 

I will carry this core of peace inside me throughout the commotion of the day.  Returning to it whenever I need it.  Returning to calmness.  To stillness.

I find that this stops the snowballing stress and I can find greater perspective, patience, and tolerance.

If you are interested in how mindfulness, meditation, and inward focus can benefit you or your children, please look into a wonderful upcoming opportunity:

On Saturday, November 10th, Joe Klein from Inward Bound Mindfulness Education is coming to Ekoji (3411 Grove Avenue) to hold a day retreat.  From 9am-4pm, there will be a retreat for adults.  From 6pm-10pm, there will be a teen event.

Ekoji offers a Family Mindfulness Meditation from 1pm-2pm this Sunday, October 14th with a Teen Mindfulness Meditation following from 2:30pm-3:30pm.  This is offered monthly.  What a great way to establish a family practice of meditation!

If right now you are saying to yourself, “That’s fine for others, but not for me.  I have no time and no quiet in my life,” I offer you this video on One Moment Meditation.  Try it out …

Monday, October 1, 2012

Being Yourself

I am not a fan of frequent screen time for kids (or adults), but I love having a family movie night now and then with my kids.  It is sometimes a struggle to find a movie that everyone can enjoy, but the documentary, Being Elmo, was a hit for all of us.  As an added bonus, Being Elmo solidly supports our three middle school themes:  Identity, Community, and Advocacy.  

This is the story of Elmo creator, Kevin Clash, and his journey from being a kid in a Baltimore neighborhood who likes to play with dolls to becoming one of the most popular puppeteers in the world.  Clash maintains his focus and sense of self despite clearly standing out as a child and teen (a strong portrayal of identity); his family, neighbors, and colleagues support his journey as a young, struggling puppeteer (community support); and even after “making it” in the entertainment business, Clash finds the time to support the Make a Wish Foundation and also mentor young puppeteers, never forgetting how he was supported as a young man (a cycle of advocacy).  

There are so many "guidance themes" in this movie:  perseverance, focus, attention to detail, and the importance of parental support to just name a few.  After viewing this movie, try talking to your child about what helped Clash succeed and what might have stood in his way.  This is also a great opportunity for a discussion on non-mainstream careers and following your passion.  

Being Elmo is a much-deserved tribute to Kevin Clash but it is also pays homage to the power of creativity and love.  Here is a review of Being Elmo from The Washington Post.