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.
Create Drops and Ripples of Kindness, I guarantee they'll spread far and come back to you.

#OneDropOfKindness #PushBoundEDU #CompelledTribe #JoyfulLeaders

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Here We Go! #KubiakKindnessCrew in action

Today we (TeamKube) embark on a National Park adventure.

    Growing up, my family took many a road trip and traveled cross-country quite a bit, but this is something that TeamKube has not done much of, and we finally agreed that we need to get our 10 and 14 year olds out to see the old USA more!
    Now, I'm a bit high strung, if any of you know me. For those that don't...I can be impulsive, and at times a bit, let's say "easily agitated" if I'm hungry or tired.
    While my son and daughter are lovely, they don't always get along, which can make for long road trips, but today, begins anew my friends!
    My wife Piper has mapped out a fantastic trip to Zion, Bryce and a few other surprise stops along the way. I will do my "Cub Scout" best to chill, expect obstacles, laugh, and just enjoy some unplugged family time.
     One thing that excites me the most is that Piper wanted to make this a #KubiakKindnessCrew trip as well. What is that? It means that we will be bringing along copies of my new book, One Drop of Kindness, and stickers and will partake on as many "Random Drops of Kindness" acts that we can.
Giving away books and stickers is only part. Random favors, supplies or food to strangers, cleaning up parks...who knows?

Stay tuned for some ultra fun video and wordsmithing, as I am ready for a new Jeff, Gus style!



Friday, May 17, 2019

Putting ourselves out there...with writing

I recently had the amazing experience that my first book, One Drop of Kindness, was published. It was officially launched on Amazon on May 3, thanks to my amazing publisher, Sarah Thomas at EduMatch.
While I am super stoked and excited about the reviews and positive impact it has had, my skin has thickened with the umm, not so rave reviews and suggestions too. I have began to develop a thicker outer shell, because, as I know, I am in charge of how I act, react and respond to others. While I still am growing, it can be difficult at times.
It's a funny thing, writing. Those who have the courage and take the risk to write, be it; a blog, poetry, books, etc, really can take a "virtual" beating.
Now don't get me wrong, my Kindness book is not for everyone, (although it should be), but if the naysayers can do so much better, why don't they? I LOVE feedback, both positive, and in ways that I can improve. But, perhaps when people have suggestions, ideas, thoughts, considerations, and critiques, it can be spun in a positive (and even private sometimes?) way.
A week or so ago, my dear friend Melanie Korach, had someone poke some negative mojo at her poetry. Get this my friends, Melanie does not have a mean bone in her body. She created the #StarfishClub, writes about love, kindness, empathy, and about every other positive characteristic or idea there is. Why would someone rip on her? Well, maybe jealousy? self loathing? lack of confidence, and fighting their own demons? I don't know, but to put it out on Twitter, and the Social Media Universe is just downright unkind.
Another friend, who's name I won't mention got so many virtual punches after he/she Tweeted something, they had to finally take down the post, as people actually had the gaul to threaten her/him!
Many of us put our heart, soul, mind, and more into our work. Writing takes a lot out of me, but I get a sense of light, power, energy and emotional octane from it. I don't write for YOU to bash, I write for me to perhaps improve myself, and maybe, just maybe, make life a bit better for someone else.
With so many amazing bloggers, podcasters, authors, vloggers, and more, let's try to read these amazing works of passion with a positive intent.
So, I ask this of you. If you want to write, Go. For. It. Write your butt off. Clean your soul, share your passion, ideas, love, and story with the world, or just a few friends. Do it with so much courage and faith, that it makes your fear run from success.
It will be great. It will be not so great. It will be a challenge. It will be exhilarating. It will be just what you need.
Now take out your Fred Flinstone slate, chisel and hammer, and leave your tattoo of awesomeness for all of us to read!
#OneDropOfKindness #Joyfulleaders #pushboundEDU #CompelledED

Monday, April 8, 2019

Educators Unite! Let's share and celebrate everyone!

Why so often does it seem that educators are in competition with each other? Are we trying to push others out of bounds, so our information get noticed first? Is her book so much better than his? Can't they both be of value?
Sure, some of the book topics are similar with content and practices, but aren't we in this together? How come some amazing edu's that have authored books, will also gladly share and support others, but some will not even acknowledge others? It seems odd, that in our country of broken educational goals, values and systems, that we wouldn't be more united and celebratory of each other.

Take my buddy Adam Welcome, for example. I speak to Adam whenever I can, because I learn each time we chat - I hope it is reciprocal too, as we can get pretty deep at times. But here is the deal. Adam has written 3 books, 2 are published and 1 is currently in the publisher's hands (co-written with the amazing Lynn Colón). I see Adam taking pics and videos with so many other author's books and sharing the great things he's seen and read! Why? Because he wants others to succeed and rock it too! We should all be in this for EVERY CHILD. EACH TEACHER. ALL ADMIN.

The more we feel comfortable sharing our successes, wins, tricks, trades, messages, the better our students will be in the long run. Let's not have pride and money get in the way of helping others. We need to be on board, as a group of brains, bodies, beliefs, resources and ideas that make education great for every child in this nation and around the world!
I love to share my blogs, podcasts I guest on, articles I read, books I have learned from, and so much more. I tag others that I feel may enjoy or benefit from what I've learned or shared too. If someone isn't compelled to read, click, or share, then that is up to them. But if I see something amazing, I'll let the person know how much I like, have learned and have grown from their message. At the same time, I probably am too honest and transparent about my ideas at times and that throws people off! But, it's who I am.

Have you noticed that on Twitter, many people follow others because of a NAME, not the necessarily the content or learning they can garner from someone? Or, you'll see people get super excited because X followed them? With so many phenomenal educators, authors, professionals and others on our Social Media fingertips, we all need to make an effort to be open, share information, say no if needed, request ideas, but most importantly: Be genuine and kind. I get it. We are all busy in our own way of 24/7. We choose to give and/or spend time with those we feel we have the greatest connection, friendship or history with. Make the time meaningful. Help each other grow. Watch each other win and succeed. Isn't that what we need?

Publishers want to sell books and market authors.  Authors want to sell books and market themselves and their messages out. I get it. As someone who will be a published author soon, I know that I am not going to be making much money (it is amazing how many books one needs to sell to be wealthy). I want to send a message. Share ideas. Help those in need with my charitable acts. It seems that most eduAuthors want this too. So, let's celebrate each other. Encourage each other. Share the wins. Watch the fireworks burst. But remember, we have about 60 million students in the U.S.A that need us, a united front of educators, making a difference for them. We should put that first.

Peace, my friends!

#DropOfKindness #CompelledTribe #PushBoundEDU

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Label our Clothing, not our Students

This morning I came across a wonderful picture/post that I had read a few years back (Thanks FB Memories!). It really got me thinking, marinating, and then stewing. It happens too much. Everyday. We (I use that term holistically for children and adults) use labels. All. The. Time!
Why? Can't we shine in our unique ways? Isn't it OK to be #YOU? If my brain, body, or personality glitters in its own way, why is that not alright?
Special Ed. Gay. Bi. Dumb. GATE. Slow. Behavior Problem. Bully. Jerk. The list goes on, and on, and on. I would challenge you to see if you could go a whole day without hearing one of these labels, or worse.

From the White House, to the news, to schools, playgrounds, street corners and homes. The labeling continues. Why is it OK that our President can make fun of people of color, or from 3rd world countries or with learning challenges and have no one push back? Why has it become fine for staff members to write on student information cards: Behavior Problem, Needs to be separated from X, Should be in SpEd...Let's wipe it clean. Stop it now. Can't we be cool with all of us doing our own thing as long as we don't bother and hurt someone else?

Words Do Matter, my friends. And if we use a label enough, we become it. It is the way it is. Go look at a student's cume file some time. There it is: GATE, TRUANT, SUSPENDED. I get it. Some things we need to identify so that we are able to address issues, make connections, get background and then foster the relationship. But it does need to become us. We are better than this!

I challenge you to make a stand. Stop using labels. And, when you hear them, push back in a fashion that is kind, but direct: "Please don't use that term", or something similar. If we all work together, focused on helping us ALL, and uniting the work we do, it would be mind blowing to see how amazing we'd become.

Let's start today. In schools, playgrounds and at home. Remove labels from all humans. Let's retrain our young children not to say them, believe them, or hear them. That way, we may be able to help prevent a beautiful soul from harming them-self, or buying in to the BS. We've had enough tragic endings and suicides from people believing what others say. Start now with the littles, and we can positively change our cultural missteps.

It won't be easy. But who really cares. Easy is lame. Easy is so 1970's. Let's help those that need us the most.
Humans. People. Children. Adults.
It will take work. But I believe we CAN. Do you?

#OneDropOfKindness #PushBoundEDU #CompelledEDU

Monday, April 1, 2019

A 3 month check in with my #OneWord: YOU

Each year that I choose a #OneWord to focus on, I like to reflect and check in on my commitment and progress toward my goal. I believe it is imperative for us to continually reflect, check, and then iterate as needed. This not only keeps me true to my word, but it gives me a chance to either re-focus, if I have lost it, or continue my drive and faith.

When I came up with my #OneWord, YOU, I was quite intentional as to my choice. Over the last year, I had been a bit #Me focused and needed to rewire my attention to doing more to support others; YOU.

Over the last 3 months I have contributed to books, blogs, podcasts, PD, career advice, my father's care with his Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, supporting my mom in the transition, rebuilding some teacher morale, encouraging the focus on #AllKids at my school site, and trying to be a better father and husband at home.

While this may seem like a lot to some, I'm sure it may pale in comparison to others. But, that being said, I'm not in it to compete. I'm in on building a better YOU. And, what that may entail for some; a check in, hug, support via Voxer, more honesty conversation, healthy challenges and lifestyle, professional advice. For others I have tried to be more present, both physically and mentally, more disconnected from devices and Social Media, and for a few, just a "hey, you good?"

Over the next few weeks, I will become a published author for the first time. My children's book, thanks to Sarah Thomas at EduMatch, "One Drop of Kindness", will become a reality. I'm hoping that this will change the life of one or more students, teachers, parents, and leaders in how "Kindness" is looked upon and shared. My intent is to make a positive impact on YOU, so that we may find a kinder way to look at each and every individual and situation. I hope you can join the ripple effect with me.

If you didn't choose a #OneWord for whatever reason, that is all good too. Perhaps though, you can take a moment to reflect on how your calendar year is going. Are you on the path toward your goals? Are your intentions positive? Who is helping to keep you in check and accountable? Where might you need a tweak or two? Just some thoughts...

It is important for all of us to have a tribe, a circle, a crew, group, peeps, or whatever you may call it. We all need support, love, challenges, and hope. But at the same time, we need to reflect and grow. Let me know if I can help YOU! Not only is it my #OneWord, but it is my intent to make others better.

Monday, March 11, 2019

It's Not Too Late

Not only is it crazy that March is upon us, it's an amazing opportunity for us take a selfie of where we are in our practice, our craft, our passion and WHY.
If you are a teacher, this is the time of year to really bring it. I posted a video yesterday on YouTube about some things to think about, but also wanted to stress a few thoughts more clearly.

We all know those students that by this time of year are really rocking it; mastered the standards, into the next grade concepts, thriving academically and socially. Well, what do we do with them now? Let's ask them! Yes, the students. Give them the power of voice, choice, drive and direction. These students need to feel like leaders. Keep them engaged by letting them sit in the driver's seat and take off!

There are so many cool things they could be doing right now: Ambassador of technology for the class or school, Class Blogger, FlipGrid Director, Code Master, Chess teacher, or whatever THEY believe they can do. Of course we want them to thrive, push the thinking, and stay motivated, but with only 2-3 months of school left, give them some room to really shoot for the moon!

What about the children that are still so far behind? How do we address his/her needs too? This, my friends is why we have colleagues! Reach out. What is your intervention plan? Are you integrating small group and/or 1:1 instruction daily? Are you sharing groups with your neighbor, or buddy teacher? Is your instruction intense, relevant and tailored to each child's gaps?

It's Not Too Late! We can still do this! Are you a bell to bell teacher? Or, do you let things all go on Fridays? Does each student get what they need and deserve? Have you done an interest inventory lately for each child? If not, you need to. Kids needs and interests change like ours do. Find a way to capture that firefly of a spark, so we don't lose them.

Think of it this way. If your own child was in a class, and was not being challenged, pushed, intervened, or loved; what would you do? Think about it. The child that throws the books, yells, has a hard time getting along with others. Call the Principal? Send them out?
Or...do you talk to them. Call home. Visit them outside of the "School Zone?". Whatever it is, don't just bail on them now. They need you more than ever! This is your chosen passion my friends - show yourself and others that YOU are the most empathic, kind, loving and dedicated educator ever!

It's not too late - for you to focus on self care. Balance your life. Take 5 minutes at lunch for YOU. Close your eyes, breath and relax. You need to be a newly built locomotive ready to pull the load everyday, so, yes, I give you permission to focus on your OWN health too! Please. We need you!

It's not too late. That final bell of the year is still 8-12 weeks away. When it rings, will you shout to the heavens "YES!" "I did everything I could for every child!". Or, will you take the route of "Darn it, I shoulda, coulda...next year I will?" No. You won't. Because you are an educator. You are a selfless servant focused on every, single child. Good, crazy, wild, mellow, troubled, kind, or unregulated. We love them all.

So, I ask you this my friends: "Is it too late?" Or are you willing to go out now and reach every student, teacher, staff member, and parent to find a unique way to truly "Bring it" for the end of the year?

#OneDropOfKindness #PushBoundEDU #CompelledEDU #TeachBetter

Monday, March 4, 2019

How You Doing?

Most of us remember Joey Tribbiani from the television show "Friends". Those that don't can just find the reruns on Netflix and will soon be able to relate to him with me. One of his most famous taglines was "How you doin?" in a very "I wanna pick you up" voice and tone to the ladies.
Well, although his technique was interesting, I like his line, because in today's schools, with what we have going on, I believe this isn't said enough.
"How are you?, How you doing? Are you alright? Can I help support you?" These are what we should be asking our students, teachers, admin, community members and anyone else we care about on a daily basis.
Our mental health, well-being, balance, and mindset are so critical in our ever-so important work. You hear all the time, "Yes, I do need to balance my time", and " I know, I work too much". But how often do we get eye to eye, check in, listen and really care about how someone is doing?
Educators not only work hard, but work long hours. We wear different hats. We attend meetings, events, PD, trainings and other time evaporators.
Needless to say, we all go home to our "other" lives, which, in some cases, can be even more of a stressor.
Time is something that we all manage quite differently as well. Some manage it well, others don't. BUT, the big but (not bootay), is that there is ALWAYS time (5 min here or there) for a quick breathing session, timeout, walk, close door and shut eyes, meditation, etc. You can't deny it. It is there. Look for it. Calendar it in. Make it happen. You deserve it (right Adam Welcome?).
Life is short. Balance is critical.
If someone cares enough to check in on you. Take it seriously enough to reflect and do a quick mind map of your physiology and frame of mind. It would be nice to have you around for longer, as you are vitally important to many people, animals and things.
I guarantee it.
So, "How you doing?"
Please take a moment to just ask.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

It happened...

OK. It happened today.
The day started with a doldrumness feeling. I was tired. I was stressed. I was feeling lonely and unsure.
My dad has Alzheimers and Parkinsons - what a combo...:(
Mom called today..."Jeff, there's an open room at the memory care facility." Boom! Damn! Really?
My sister, Mom and I had been expecting this for over a month, but when you hear, " You are first on the list," it kind of makes you cringe. Knowing that for an opening in a nursing home means that someone else has died? Umm, not my comfort zone.
Pops has gone downhill fast. My family moved back from Vancouver, WA in Spring of '17, as we knew he was declining quickly.
My pops.

I know it wasn't the best time ever growing up, but he's pops. My dad. My father. My pappy. The 'Ol man, etc.
He was there. He worked hard. He brought us to Hawaii every year since I was 5 - probs about 35 trips my friends. Yes, he worked 7 days per week. Ignoring things that may have been perceived more important.
Speaking to dad on Sunday, February 24, 2019 ( after his donut from Fluffy's -Brian Briggs you down?) (shaved and showered him next) - we then had quite a few laughs, cries, hmm's and questions.
My big Q was " Dad, why did you work 7 days per week when I was growing up?" His response was beautiful:  "Jeff, I never felt confident in what I did as a dad. Working gave me confidence, because I was good at it."

Wow. My dad gave me about 40 trips to Hawaii. Camping. National Parks. Baseball. Swimming. Surfing. Scuba. Whatever Marian and I needed.

Now- What was left? A few memories? Stories of Frozen Custard from Milwaukee? Some laughs? A model of the USS Arizona that we built in 1975?

No. Pops is not just a shell. He is here. He is now. He is present. He is my dad of 53 + years and every time I see him, he is me. My life. My family. My pops.
I love you Pops.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Lonely People, Inspired by Eleanor Rigby ( John and Paul )

I was never a huge Beatles fan ( Don't hate me Sean Gaillard/Pepper Effect ), but one song has always stood out to me, that I could play an endless loop of: Eleanor Rigby.
There are many stories behind the origin of this amazing song, but to me, it rings the words "School Children 101" every time I hear it.

First, listen to the chorus: "Ah look at all the lonely people". Think of your school. Your students. Staff. Community. Without knowing, there are so many people that fall into this category, for what? Existing? Being? Going through the motions? What are we doing for these lovely and lonely souls? Are we connecting, inspiring and leading them to better things?
Another poignant line that rings true with me is "Where do they all belong?". If you believe in every child. Every day. Every Chance. Then this is us! They belong with us. We must know these lonely souls. They are hiding behind faces, and smirks, and frowns, and furrowed brows. It is a masquerade ball, and we must find out who the jester is amongst these broken hearts. But, without asking questions, showing interest, getting on our hands and knees, we will never know. Know that they are on food stamps. Or living with 10 relatives. Or sharing a bed with 4 siblings. Or that they are so afraid to upset mom or dad because they'll get whipped. Show them they belong.
"Eleanor Rigby, died in the church, And was buried along with her name, Nobody came." To me, this is the most powerful of all the lines in the song. Nobody Came. Well, except for Father McKenzie. What? Really? We cannot accept this loneliness my friends. It is just no acceptable. All students must feel welcome. They must feel loved, accepted, honored, and cherished. There must be no outliers of looks, personality, language or race. If we are not helping the silent child that most needs it, then we are neglecting the outgoing class clown who shouts out for help! They all need us. Find the Eleanor Rigby in your school now. Not next week, but now. Look around. Ask. Observe.
They are all out there my fellow educators. The scavenger hunt is on. Will you join me in the hunt to find them?
#OneDropOfKindness #PushboundEDU #CompelledTribe #Joyfulleaders

Eleanor Rigby - 1966
Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
Father McKenzie, writing the words
Of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks
In the night when there's nobody there
What does he care
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby, died in the church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt
From his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul Mccartney
Eleanor Rigby lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC