Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Caretaker Educator

The Grade 1 class stood on the stage, their parents lining up or holding their phones up high to get the best photo. Some of the children grinned and giggled, most have grown up with someone’s phone held up to their face to capture the moment. They know what to do.

The Caretaker Educator Pixabay - Wokandapix
There were some kids though, who shifted from one foot to the other, they looked uncomfortable. They stood more solemnly, they stood erect and only casually glanced at the rows of parents and family members sitting in the gymnasium.

Some parents were teary seeing their babies finishing their first official year of school. How had that happened so fast? Some family members sneaked in late weaving between the rows after the start of the event. Some kept an eye on their phones or casually glanced at their watches “would this end in time for the second period of the playoff game?”

Grandparents’ faces shone with pride, a tattoo armed Dad sat at the back alone. Teachers struggled to keep their class in line, frustration held at bay. One boy just plain laid down on the floor, it had been a long day. Another wore a white shirt but looking at his face, he’d obviously found the chocolate. The girls sat and showed each other their sparkly shoes, as girls often do.

And then each grade made it to the stage. Each with a crew of characters in the making.

He waved to a short boy. Curtis and Michael had been best friends since grade 1, and then 'Mike' grew six inches this last year. The caretaker had watched and told the short boy not to worry. Mike was a good boy, he'd figure it out.

He saw the little sweetie who used to bring him cupcakes that she'd made all by herself. Now she was so grown up and soon would say goodbye.

Someone sitting near the back smelled of an after-work drink. He'd seen this before and stood ready in case he had to escort someone out.

Then at the end of the evening, the children went back to their classroom to pick up their belongings and everyone trailed out of the building.

The school caretaker picked up the bits and pieces left behind, some things don't change, he shook his head and began putting away the chairs. The other hallways had been swept for tomorrow, he turned off the remaining lights and closed the double doors.

Each year he said that it would be his last. He’d seen so many Grade 1s pass through these halls and just as many leave this school for bigger buildings.

One day soon though, he knew his cleaning days would come to an end. But he also knew that his days of educating others would go on forever. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Overindulgence – do you or don’t you speak up?

For the most part, we do not want to appear stuffy or appear that we are getting our nose into someone's business. We are usually governed by politeness and not stepping on toes with our opinions or worries. But is there a point when we are compelled to speak up?

I worked with someone many decades ago. A lovely woman, funny, kind and nice to have around…in small doses. She also drank. She smelled of alcohol when I gave her a ride home and at her desk while she typed out letters. But no one said anything and I didn’t either. 

Overindulgence - Pixaby angelie96mejia
She ate potatoes for dinner almost every day, potatoes for dinner, she laughed because that that was all she could afford. We all knew why. But she was sweet and I’m only guessing here from the stories she told, she was sad. The booze helped.

We attended a musical event a little while back. Not a dress up and put on pearls event but an occasion that warranted changing from your day clothes to go downtown. The musician was a young chap, although I don’t know much about his style of music, he sounded good to my ears. 

He roused the crowd, interacted cheerfully with those sitting close to the stage and he drank. First set  he came out with two beers, haha, get in the mood. Second set, even more lively, two more beers. The lady behind us was getting into the tunes, she laughed at all his jokes and said to her date, isn’t he fun?

And was it just fun? Am I just getting just too solid in my “please be entertaining without fueling it with alcohol” ways? I could feel the energy in the room quieten a bit as time went on. There was some uncomfortable shifting in the seats, although the musician was having a great time by now. Some audience members continued to chatter back and forth with the young man and he got happier.

When the musician returned to the stage for an encore, bringing two more beer I wondered how long this would go on. I wondered if he would recreate this same type of performance the following night and if this was his style? I worried, and I thought back to the people who used to be in my life who could also drink six beers in a matter of a few hours. I know a few of them are dead, I know some switched to another kind of indulgence, I know some who are as they were those years ago and are now a tax on their loved one.

Perhaps, I am over sensitive to this behavior?

The musician said that he would be out selling his CDs after the performance. I had a vision of looking into his soulful eyes and saying ‘young man, don’t do this to yourself”. But I did not. As a talented chap, would he be able to maintain this level of success, would he be able to turn off the overindulgence at his choosing?

What do you think, in these situations should we speak out or not? Should we care?

My thoughts have gone back several times over the last week to this young man, and I wonder. Will there come a day when all he eats for dinner is potatoes?

Does witnessing overindulgence compel you to speak out? (Click to Tweet) 

Is it our business to get into someone else's? (Click to Tweet)


Friday, April 7, 2017

Trying out these Hacks from Captivate

Once in a while a book comes along, that you wish you’d had in your growing years. Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards of the Science of People is such a book! 

Navigating through life can be a messy series of not knowing how to show up in public. It can be a thin line between being authentic and behaving in a way to garner more impression and attention. Add being an introvert like some of us to the mix and well, you can picture the quandary, can’t you?

In Captivate, you will recognize and learn easily adoptable practices that give you an advantage in a variety of social settings. I wish I’d read this book back when I was experiencing Asking Questions Made Me Enjoy Social Settings, I would have felt better prepared for meeting people around the buffet table. (You've got to read the book to get this joke!)

Captivate gives you a comprehensive list of tools to feel more comfortable in a variety of social settings. Hacks to understanding people and performing in a positive light; each with a consistent reminder to remain authentic. I believe it was this ideation that confirmed my delight with this book. As I've said before, there is only one You!

I'd say this is a must have for your bookshelf to refer to over and again. A valuable addition to someone’s collection in pursuing self-growth and an entertaining read for everyone. You will not be disappointed.

As a writer, I know that the next time I am writing a short story (or perhaps someday a book) I will be able to refer to Vanessa Van Edwards words in Captivate and know that I’ve better grasped the essence of being human in my characters.

Vanessa Van Edwards

Are you a data hound? You'll love the statistics about first impressions in Captivate. (Click to Tweet)

Read about the Franklin Effect and create the bond to other people. (Click to Tweet)

Please note the affiliate link. If you decide to add Captivate to your bookshelf, I will receive a few pennies to support my coffee and reading habits. Thank you!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

What does your Stress Sheet say?

I recently attended a workshop where this quote was truly brought to life. The topic was on Stress, and how much we were dealing with. We were each handed a sheet of paper with possible incidents we might have experienced during the current year. The big ones, death of a loved one, losing a job, health worries etc, you get the idea, were listed there just like all our other daily worries.

What does your Stress Sheet say? Vancouver, BC

We were asked to complete our Stress Sheet with a numeric acknowledgement of all the factors we had experienced. The instructor then asked for a show of hands as to how many people had a total of under 100, 200 and so on. The Stress “Winner” (or Loser, depending on your perspective) had a whopping total of 600.

What you might be curious to know is that we were not told how much weight to put with each of our stressors. In other words, having an unemployed spouse might have been given a number 10 by someone and a 100 by someone else.

We each have had horrible years, we often celebrate at the end of a year purely for the idea that next year just couldn’t be that bad (again). Sometimes, we’ve had a string of these high stressed years, and yes, they can take their toll on our physical and mental wellness.

Completing the form that day, made me question how we each choose a number for the burden we are carrying. Do the Zen-like only attach smaller numbers, do the chronic victimizers choose only 3-digit numbers. How do we decide how BIG our stress is?

The Stress Loser in our workshop, seemed quite cheerful with her winning number. Was she so used to this amount of Stress that she did not allow it to effect her? Was she winning at the contest of being overwhelmed? Did she receive any support from those closest to her? Was she surviving?

I will never know. Most of us are not in a position to take on someone else’s “stuff”, whether it is self-imposed or a deposit from Fate. All we can do is be aware that the person sitting beside us has a Stress sheet and that their numbers could be higher than ours.

In case you are wondering, my number was below 100. It has been a good year, in fact, a good many years which I am grateful for. And I can only hope that the self-care, yoga, meditation and daily reflection will support me when I need them next.

What do you do to control your Stress? (Click to Tweet)

Take care of yourself, ask someone for help if you need it.