Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A Kindness Challenge for a Challenging World

 I am blessed to share this blog that was included in Sherry St. Clair's Blog on the Reflective Learning Website.

If you are unfamiliar with Jeff Kubiak's work, I hope you will explore it. Like me, Jeff believes in the power of truly taking the time to "see" people. His compassionate work beautifully showcases his dedication to equity and social justice. I believe his message is one our world desperately needs to hear right now. If you are an instructional leader, I encourage you to consider how you can use his work as you lead adults. If you are an educator, consider how to use his material to help students reflect on their lives and individual roles in society. I hope you enjoy his post and take his challenge to support Random Acts of Kindness Day. -Sherry St. Clair

A year or so ago, soon after publishing my first book, One Drop of Kindness, I came up with several different challenges for schools, homes, businesses, and more to help promote kindness in our everyday lives.

It was clear that the timing was on point. Many people were hurting. Our world, and even especially our beloved country (USA) needed help. There were too many people choosing hatred, anger, discrimination, prejudice, and other negative things over kindness. Well, I believe it is time again for an uplifting challenge to embed kindness into our DNA. I’d like to see us reinvent our thinking, intentions, and our mantra. While not EVERYONE needs to focus on acts and words of kindness, it can’t hurt if we have a reminder, can it?

Everyone has a story to share, and some people have more than one, but deep down, there is something to be uncovered in all of us. I’ve been in many schools, and have worked with thousands of children and educators. One common theme rings true with every single child; they all WANT to do good. They INTEND to do good. But, at times, they are led down the wrong path, and the habits and patterns of hatred take over.

Kindness comes from the heart so easily for some. Others? Well, just look at the news, or on social media today. Kindness has become lost and sunken so deep for many people, it is like trying to raise the Titanic. Because each child AND adult has a unique story, the trait of kindness can take quite long to be brought to the surface, but, as a society, I believe it must be on the forefront for all of us.

People have been hurt, broken, abused, betrayed, abandoned, misled, biased, oppressed, and so much more, that the depth of pain varies for all of us. That is why it is imperative to act now with intentional positivity, and kindness for all. In One Drop of Kindness, the main character, Gus, goes on a powerful journey. He begins life as an abandoned boy that learns the ways of emptiness, hatred and despair. Eventually, he recalls an echo from when he was a baby, that helps him find Kindness in his heart, and he learns to spread drops of kindness for all to see.

It is in Gus’ message that I tried to convey my own struggles throughout my life. Not only was I hurt, dejected, picked on at times as a child AND adult, but I did many hurtful things as well! Unfortunately, many things that take place in the book actually happen at schools, homes, parks, workplaces and places in between, all over the world.

Although World Kindness Day takes place one day per year, in November, I would like to present you with an uplifting challenge for the upcoming Random Acts of Kindness Day, on February 17th, 2021:

1. Be intentional and mindful about how you treat others and yourself. 2. Pause before you react, and then use kind words to RESPOND. 3. Be empathetic with your actions and let kind acts takeover.

These acts can soon gain the ripple, or domino effect, and are used to challenge others to use kind words, or simple random and kind acts. Kind acts can be free, by doing things such as; opening doors for others, giving up a seat on a bus or train, helping someone cross the street, offer to give a sandwich or drink to someone, using a kind tone on the phone to a customer service representative, picking up trash at a school, park or community area.

There can be acts of kindness that have very nominal costs as well; pay the toll on the bridge for the car behind you, purchasing a coffee, throwing in an extra tip at the restaurant, giving gift cards, and so much more.

While kindness may not be rocket science, it really does make a difference. Kindness is so important that the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has a kindness institute! HERE. Imagine that! They are studying the positive outcomes of what kindness can do to improve our lives!

Think of how someone’s tone, and/or body language can completely change a transaction, or positive moment. Maybe ask how someone is, or if they need something before you put in a demand, or an aks. Remember too, that for some, kindness is a heavy task, and so difficult to find. Use patience, pause, and respond instead of reacting. Then show everyone you know (even strangers)that kindness can win and help takeover the pain, hatred, and frustration of the world’s troubles.

If we can ditch the prejudice, labels, biased and predetermined mindset of all people, then we will be off to an amazing start. Help me discover each person’ story, what makes them tick, and how life may or may not have helped them find happiness, kindness and peace. My new book, It’s Me, looks at this exact topic. I have compiled real vignettes, written by students, and educators who have been marginalized, biased, or not accepted for one reason or another. By listening to our stories, we can hear and see that we all have something to share.

I hope you’ll accept the Kindness Challenge, and please share with me pictures, ideas, thoughts, and success from our world becoming a more kind, inclusive, and equitable place.

Check out my book, One Drop of KindnessHERE, or go to my website for FREE resources on Kindness and for World Kindness Day, HERE

I offer free author visits via Skype, Zoom, or Meet, and offer consulting, speaking, book talks, professional development and more at https://www.jeffkubiak.com/.

Remember, One Drop of Kindness is all it takes, to fill a heart with love.Together, we can create Drops of Kindness and change the world.

Jeff Kubiak

Educator, Author, Speaker, Advocate for All Kids

Twitter - @jeffreykubiak

Instagram - @jeffkubiakauthor

Facebook - @jeffkubiakauthor

Friday, December 4, 2020

My 2nd book, It's Me is HERE!


For immediate release:
Author's new book receives a warm literary welcome.
Readers' Favorite announces the review of the Young Adult - Social Issues book "It's Me" by
Jeff Kubiak, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1970133996.
Readers' Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. 
They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and
Harper Collins, and have received the "Best Websites for Authors" and "Honoring Excellence" awards
from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating),
which is a
rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.
"Reviewed By Alyssa Elmore for Readers' Favorite
Discover how children react to their lives as they navigate difficult social issues in the young adult
 book, It’s Me by Jeff Kubiak. Prejudices run rampant in our society, and tragically this reflects on
our children and how they view their world. Whether a person has a different color of skin, speaks
another language, or has impairments, being ‘different’ can be scary and lonely. If we are too busy
looking at the surface, we miss so much and we are shutting ourselves off from learning about that
person’s unique experiences. Explore how it feels to be different in short prose from the eyes of
eleven to sixteen-year-old children. With more than twenty-two vignettes including autistic,
Muslim, and LGBTQ viewpoints, this book explores the beautiful diversity of children and adults
of this world and the
possibility of tragedy if we don’t learn how to drop our prejudices and become accepting of the unique
qualities of others.
It’s Me by Jeff Kubiak is a touching OwnVoices peek into children’s everyday lives and the candid way
in which they speak about how they like to relate to their peers. The message of these stories is
clear; everyone deserves to be seen for who they are as people, not labels. Colorfully illustrated with
engaging graphics, I was impressed with the heartwarming way in which the author portrayed the
stories. I believe that this book is excellent for parents and carers that are interested in encouraging
empathy and the celebration of diversity and inclusion in their children. It’s Me by Jeff Kubiak is a
beautiful act of love."
You can learn more about Jeff Kubiak and "It's Me" at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/its-me 
where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or
through their website and social media pages.

Readers' Favorite LLC
Media Relations
Louisville, KY 40202

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

All Lanes Open

Damn! You missed the offramp.
Ugh, another detour ahead?
Road Hazard, use other lane.
Construction zone, please go around.
All Night Diner...closed for remodeling.

If you are like me, you've seen these types of signs, or road blocks, and many more. At any given time during the day or week, there are obstacles, blockades, closures or things that may give us pause and cause us to change our plan or intention. Be it inconvenient, or not, it is how we deal with these obstacles that mark our path.

It doesn't matter if you are an educator, business person, student, athlete, musician, or other profession, hobby or work. But, when something blocks, derails, or stumps us and causes disruption to what may be mainstream, we DO have a choice: Do we shutdown, or find an Open Lane!

Shutting down, stopping, exploding and quitting can be commonplace for some, but unthinkable for many others. Why is that?
Is it a person's Grit, perseverance, resilience and mindset? Or, is it the fact that many people are so overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, and busy, that they don't see the possible Lane that is Open?

Today, in our world, unemployment is low, but our future is uncertain and rocky. We have new health scares, tumultuous financial markets, and so many other things beyond our control, happening all day. There are people that are very capable of handling these stressors with ease, smoothness, and without missing a step. But for many others, finding an open lane, another path, a different iteration can be quite difficult.

If you are like me, a podcast listener, a mindfulness practitioner, an exerciser, and one who strives to constantly reflect, grow and improve, then the reality is: it just isn't easy. Sure, we may have budgets to meet, time constraints to follow, overhead to watch, bosses breathing down our necks, needy students clamoring for love and help, and so many other forces pulling us each and every direction. So, what do we do?

There are answers. I don't know them all, but I am learning about new ones each day. Even when the chips are low and we are feeling down and nothing seems to work, we can find help and solutions. There IS an open lane. There IS another path. An untried route may be what you need. You may have read about, heard, and seen many of these examples and more, but here is a reminder of a few things that really DO work to find that Open Lane: 

Pause - Literally, stop what you are doing, find a place to let your mind go and close your eyes, even if only for a moment.
Ask - When we ask for help, we build our own wealth of tools and empower our strength of vulnerability.
List -  Instead of focusing on the 432 new emails, make a list of the 3-5 most imperative things, needs, people that need addressing. Many of the others you can put off, or delegate.
Breathe - 3 Deep and slow breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth.
Move - Don't hesitate. Walk, run, swim, cycle, jump. Do something. There are many apps out there for 5 minute movements, check them out.
Faith is stronger than Fear - Have faith in YOU. Know that you are not your last failure or dead end, but that you ARE worthy and capable. Fear will rob you of everything you have.
Read - Find a book, blog, article or magazine to clear your mind.
Learn - Take a class, a lesson, a refresher, or instruction in something new.
Laugh - Finally, the old saying isn't just a saying. It is proven that "Laughter is the best medicine". Watch Funny videos, read a comic, search for a funny movie, or look up some silly jokes. Laughter can release endorphins, burn calories, boost our immune system and relax the entire body.

All in all, this is nothing new, but please, I beg you - Don't give up. We all thrive in our own way and your way is definitely best.

I'm here to help, as God knows I ask for guidance and help quite often.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Let's Make 2020 the year of kindness!

My latest Blog - now on the Edumatch Website: Let's Make 2020 the year of kindness!

It’s another New Year. Which means for many; time for resolutions, reflections, #OneWord focuses, improvements, goals and new beginnings. For me, it is going to be simple: Bring kindness to as many people as possible. Since May 2019, when my first book came out, “One Drop of Kindness”, I’ve been sharing many of the amazing lessons, ideas, random acts, and other kindness surprises that have been intentional and life-changing moments. Why can’t we make this a part of our daily practice? Is kindness really that difficult to embrace and spread?As we read the news, watch Youtube, look at social media posts and listen to the radio, one thing is apparent; life is not full of joy and happiness for many. Volcanoes, Countries on fire, Violence and famine, hatred and is not full of joy and happiness for many. Volcanoes, Countries on fire, Violence and famine, hatred and mistrust, homelessness and much more. I see it. You see it, or even maybe live it. I can’t say I understand,but I do empathize and hope.
    My hope is for better conditions, more opportunities, less violence, more
compassion, and an intentional understanding of those in other groups, ethnicities, races, religions, and ways of life.When we aren’t experiencing joy, spreading kindness is very difficult. Often times, our first reactions are impulsive, rash and can be full of hatred. Those who are hurt, many times will immediately hurt back instinctively. This type of reaction has become habitual, and a way of life, but as many of us see; it needs to end.Education is one answer to help end the unconscionable misery and despair. If we are mindful and intentional in our approach, we can easily spread kindness to ourselves and others. Beginning with our youngest, let’s teach them to use words that lift, not destroy. Let’s get them to think, not just react. We can implore them to help others, not ignore and walk away. When these actions become natural, the ripples of kindness will spread.Not as wildfire at first, but in small waves, soothing us to want more.
    The Great Kindness Challenge is upon us soon; from January 27-31, 2020. This challenge began in 2006,
as something small and local, but has blossomed into a worldwide event. Why not jump in with your family,school, business, or group and try some of the activities? There are as many ways to spread kindness as there are ways to spread hatred and violence. Let’s share them, use them, initiate them and embrace them.
    Random acts, domino effect, ripple effect, chain reactions. These are often used in terms associated with spreading kindness. While this won’t be easy, it is possible. From the time we wake to the time we settle in for the night, we control our thoughts and mindset. It just takes a pause, a quiet moment to reflect and a quick recall of how it feels.Kindness feels good. It feels good to give, it feels wonderful to receive. If you can’t remember, just Google “random acts of kindness”, or “ kindness in the news”. It is there my friends, we just have to look.So, I ask you to please join me in making 2020, The Year of Kindness. Smile, use kind words, pick up something you found and return it to the owner, clean up a park, share a sandwich with someone down and out, listen to one who needs you, donate blankets, laugh with a friend, put your phone down and justwatch. Be the person that begins the ripple effect in your house, and then spread it at work or school.
It begins with us and will end with us, too. How do you want to live? In a world of smiles, laughter, sharing,and goodwill? Or not? We don’t have to like each other, but we can choose whether or not we treat one another with love or not.In the words of Disney’s “It’s a Small World” -

“There is just one moon 
And one golden sun
And a smile means Friendship to ev'ryone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all”

Be kind. Choose kindness. Spread Kindness, One Drop at a time.
Educator and author in Northern California. I’ve had my share of poor choices, and not being kind, but have intentionally sought to be a light for those who have only seen darkness. I’m a father, son, husband, brother,coach and advocate for those whose voices are not yet strong enough.Let’s support All Kids, and All People.  
You can find me on Twitter: @jeffreykubiakMy website: https://www.jeffkubiak.com/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GusTheKindnessKid/Instagram: aquakubeMy book, One Drop of Kindness, the story of an abandoned boy, Gus, who’s journey from despair to kindness with the help of a whisper in his heart, can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and in Independent Bookstores.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Intention - A Defining Word

    Most of us know, that intention can be quite an amazing thing, and many of us in education are often defined by the very way we are, intended or not. " To act in a certain way" or "To Plan" or "Have Purpose".  When we have intentionality, or a determined way to act or deliver, it can be very powerful. It can also be quite telling about who we are, and what message we are trying to convey.
    Take kindness, for example. When we act with deliberate and intentional kindness, a ripple effect can often be seen, heard, and felt. People begin to watch, listen and act in a way that emulates people doing the right thing. If purposeful, and heartfelt, intentional kindness can become a way of life. It makes one feel good, right, just, fulfilled, and plentiful when being kind. Letting our conscious efforts drive our acts, it becomes habitual and mission-like. We've all seen it in videos, blogs, newscasts, and various posts of people (and animals) being intentionally kind. These acts can be random, but when they are filled with a conscious plan - they can provide the heartfelt filling of an empty space. Not only that, but it can actually be lifesaving. Look it up on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or your favorite Social Media Platform: Random Acts, or Acts of Kindness. They work. Very well. So well, that our cliche "Domino Effect", "Ripple Effect", "Chain Reaction" and any other are actually true, factual, studied and real.
    I ask you this: Be Intentional with all that you do. Whatever it is, put purpose, passion, love, and a plan behind it. The only caveat is that within this intention, think with your heart, be empathetic to others, and let kindness drop from it. The world is changing my friends. Don't let it drag us down. Instead, let's all Intentionally make it the Kindness place to be.
Follow some of my Kindness Friends for more resources: Tamara Letter - Passion for Kindness, Laurie McIntosh - The Kind Club, One Drop of Kindness, Roman Nowak - Be Kind EDU, Rachel Joy Scott - Rachel's Challenge, John Magee - The Kindness Coach, and Barbara Gruener - Corner on Character, just to name a few.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

My First, First Day

   August 26th was my 20th "First" day as an educator, but it was also really my "First". You see, I've never begun a school year without my Pops being around.
It's been over three weeks since he left us for the Angels, but I could tell something was amiss. Pops always had the habit of calling to check in on me daily, but especially after a new school year had begun.
   "Jeffers" he'd say. "How did it go today"? I'd tell Pops all about the students, teachers, parents, and some of the great things that went on during the usual crazy first day of class. We'd catch up, laugh, and just listen to each other.
   You see, my father had a work ethic, unlike anyone I've ever seen, or known. He worked two to three different jobs growing up, just to ensure our family was taken care of better than he was as a boy. It wasn't unusual for dad to bike home from the University after a long day, eat dinner with my sister, mom and I, shower up, then head off for a night shift at another hospital.
   I really can't comprehend this, and I even lived it. Now I realize why he always seemed so tired. But, damn. He did whatever it took to make a great life for us. You just don't see that commitment to work, or family anymore.
   Getting back to my first day of the 2019-2020 School Year. The day was fantastic; so many bug eyed students, excited parents, and staff members that knew their "why".
   It wasn't until I was driving home that it hit me. "I can't call Pops" I thought to myself. So, I decided to speak to him aloud anyway. Telling him of the highs, and lows, and how hot it was. A few tears ran down my cheeks, really missing his voice.
   As I walked in the door to my house, my mother was sitting on the couch reading her book. She had taken care of my son for the last few days, helping my wife and I jigsaw our life into one piece. It really dawned on me then: My parents were always there for me. Regardless of it being a real life conversation, a visit, a chat of encouragement, or just in my memories.
   I miss Pops everyday. Some days more. Some days more than that. Each day is new, but I know, deep down, that he is cheering me on, watching me, and reminding me that "Family First" is really what it's all about.