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, November 5, 2019

One Drop of Kindness: A mission that has become much more than a picture book

This is from a guest post on  ThriveGlobal.com community page.
Everyone has a story. 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. One common theme rings true with every single child; they all want to do good.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, it is like trying to raise the Titanic.Because each child AND adult has a unique story, the trait of kindness can take so long to be brought to the surface, but, as a society, it must be on the forefront for all of us. People have been hurt, broken, abused, betrayed, abandoned, misled 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 good, and kindness for all.In the book, One Drop of Kindness, our main character, Gus, goes on a journey of being an abandoned boy full of hatred and despair to finding Kindness in his heart, and spreading drops for all to see. It is this message that I tried to convey my own struggles throughout my life. Not only was I hurt, unkind, and dejected at times as a child AND adult, I did many hurtful things as well! Unfortunately (and then fortunately once you meet our friend, Truly), many things that take place in the book, actually happen at schools all over the world.With World Kindness Day coming up on November 13, 2019, I would like to present you with a challenge: Be intentional and mindful daily about how you treat others and yourself. Pause before you react, and then use kind words. Be intentional with your actions and let kind acts takeover. Use the domino, or ripple effect, and challenge others to use kind words, or simple random and kind acts. 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, pay the toll on the bridge for the car behind you, pick up trash at a school, park or community area.Kindness isn’t rocket science, but remember that for some, it is a heavy task, and so difficult at times. Be patient and show everyone you know, and even strangers, that kindness can win and takeover the pain, hatred, and frustration of the world.Check out my book, One Drop of Kindness – HERE, or go to my website for FREE resources on Kindness and for World Kindness Day, HERE.
Together, we can create Drops of Kindness and change the world!
Jeff Kubiak
Educator, Author, Speaker, Advocate for All Kids

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.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

What if we just disrupted a bit...

OK, so I might ruffle a few feathers, but when has that stopped me before, right?
This is a rewrite of a post I wrote about a year and a half ago.
Right now, here we are. In the moment. Doing. Moving. Breathing. Living our life.
And then it happens. Something we don’t want, but now, we have come to expect.
A tragedy.
Lives are disrupted, lost and memorialized. We wonder why. What happened? What could have gone wrong? When will things change and improve?
Wake up - it hits us. The Anger. The Rage. The Pain. The Fear. The Anguish. And The Hate.
When will it end? Why can’t we get this thing called Kindness, Compassion, Love, Empathy and Togetherness right?
It seems so simple; we teach our Preschool and Elementary kiddos to be kind, use nice words, actions and gestures. “Think of others first” we say to them; because we know that they are young, malleable, impressionable and sweet. Hoping it
will stick to them like glue. We KNOW they can do better than we did.
We KNOW they can help us to improve our world. We KNOW they are the only ones we can count on to be what our society isn't.
But, for some reason, it isn’t working. It is broken, and so are we.
Why can’t we get this right? The hatred. The fury. The disgust. The judgement. The ignorance. The inability to reflect, stop and think.
Not a day goes by in this amazing country that we don’t relive Normandy, Vietnam, Selma, 9/11, Holocaust, Columbine, Boston Marathon Bombings; need I list more? No. We know them all, or at least most of them. They just repeat with a theme; Racism, Hate, War, Mental Illness,
Misunderstandings, Ignorance and Lack of Empathy.
Who are we, my friends? Have we lost our minds? Why can’t we get it right? We have a leader in Washington DC that thought draining the swamp meant to eradicate all the good, treat others with disgust and hatred and words that cannot be forgotten. We have members of Congress that can’t see past the money
they get from the NRA, Big Pharma, Exxon-Mobil, AT&T and
so many more; that they can’t see straight.
In 2018, we had more hate groups in the US now, than ever (1020 and growing -see map HERE ). What is wrong with us? Why is #Kindness so difficult? The movie Wonder come out with the #ChooseKind movement. I just wrote my first picture book called One Drop of Kindness. Check it out. But, Why. Is. KINDNESS So. Hard?
The Olympics come and go; we bond together in our love of sports.
Our Women's National Soccer Team just crushed the World. Americans unite. But, you Know what? Each amazing female
athlete that is on the team will receive roughly $260K. Not a bad amount you may think ...until you realize that the Men's Team would have each gotten about $1.1M. Yes, that's correct. The women get about 24% of what their male counterparts! WTF?!

What if we decided to be kind AND equitable everyday?

What if our students had the consistent message that they count and matter?
What if all Americans could have affordable Health Care, both Physical and Mental
when they needed it?
What if we only used guns for protection, hunting and sporting, and like many of
the safest countries in the world, we did not allow semi and automatic weapons?
What if All students had a say in his/her education?
What if all Black, White, Brown, and every other color person actually got along
because they cared about each other?
What if the President and Congress actually worked for the People of the
United States? Not for Special Interests? or Himself and his ego?
What if we all just did better. A little at a time. Every day.

Let's just disrupt the status quo. Today. Right Now.
Do it with kindness, intention, betterment of others and to bring equity to our world. One Ripple at a time.

I’m willing to try. Are you?

Monday, July 1, 2019

We Made it! #KubiakKindnessCrew #OneDropOfKindness

1,712 miles driven.
18 Copies of One Drop of Kindness given away.
100's of ODK Stickers passed around.
Thousands of doors opened and being held for others.
Unknown amounts of trash picked up.
Water, Happy Meals, and other snacks purchased for those without.
Countless smiles, hello's, thank you's and general pleasantries.

Those are just some stats.
The magic within the trip was exponentially greater. The family bonding? Unfathomable.
Team Kube set off for 3 National Parks and ventured through some of most ghostly parts of the Western United States. Highway 50, known at the "Loneliest Road in America" and home to the Pony Express was our beginning. We played car games, sang songs, laughed at random jokes, listened to podcasts, had temper tantrums, ate the greasiest food I've ever seen and yes, we even slept a bit.

The purpose of our journey was several-fold. First, my kids hadn't seen many National Parks, something I had done a lot of as a child. Second, we needed to bond and spend some disconnected time together as a family - we don't get a lot of it during the school year. Lastly, as part of the mission of my new book, One Drop of Kindness, and our family motto, we wanted to give back and perform as many "Random Drops of Kindness" as we could.

The four of us called the trip a success. Yes, there was still some thermo-nuclear meltdowns, arguments, rough patches and hiccups, Team Kube laughed, played, loved and truly created memories.
Canyoneering in narrow sandstone canyons, zip-lining, horseback, long hikes overlooking some of nature's most prestigious works of wonder (Zion, Bryce and Great Basin), Spelunked, swam, campfired, fought gnats, Smore'd, conversed, played cards, unplugged, and most importantly; just plain had time together as a family.

We ended our journey with a stop in SinCity, or Las Vegas to some of you. This was a first for our kids...eyes WIDE open, wondering, smelling the pot waft throughout our stroll, running into David Copperfield on the street, the overcrowded and supersonic drunkenness of the hotel"lazy river", Neon lights, sounds, and incredible humans. On this stop we had the pleasure of meeting Jim, our friendly Hotel Engineer. I posted about Jim earlier on Twitter, as I believed his story was amazing.

A grandfather of 4, Jim is a pleasant, kind and very overworked hotel employee. When we checked in, the kids noticed our television wasn't working. 3 calls and 4 hours later, Jim showed up.
Ever so apologetic, we told him not to worry, and realized that he must have been very busy. Almost taken aback, Jim said, "people normally don't react that way, they are kind, in general, thank you". I almost wept. How could someone get angry at a per
son who is doing his best, and trying to keep up? Entitlement perhaps? yes, no doubt.
We talked, laughed, joked, and told stories. As Jim was finished, I asked if I could give him a copy of my book - with a huge smile, Jim replied "YES!".

I often struggle with balance, parenting, husbanding and self care. But I never neglect a chance to reflect. This trip brought many things into perspective for me. Family First. Serve others whenever possible (it's always possible). Quit comparing myself to others (24 hour challenge for me). And, most importantly, we only get one ride on this terrific voyage called life. My kids are 10 and 14 and it seems as life has been put on fast forward x10.
If you've read this far and haven't fallen asleep, please take this into consideration:
Serve others, always.
Enjoy your time with family and friends.
Be kind to yourself.
Smile
Create Drops and Ripples of Kindness, I guarantee they'll spread far and come back to you.

Peace.
#OneDropOfKindness #PushBoundEDU #CompelledTribe #JoyfulLeaders