Monday, August 28, 2017

Things You Will Never Learn In School

There is a myth out there floating around about whether or not some of the following things that I am writing about actually came from Bill Gates or not. The first place that I heard of them was on a You Tube video about Science and Engineering. Throw in some of Colin Powell's suggestions of rules to live by and add in my own two cents worth...there you have it. I always want to give credit when I get ideas from other sources. These sayings are so true and I believe that somehow we need to find better ways to teach our children well! Life is not always easy, therefore, we need to lead the way to help them steer a pathway of level-headed responses. These guidelines to live by are not in the curriculum in our school systems, sad to say.

As a parent and a teacher, I did use the expression of, "Life is not fair." There are times that I must repeat this over to myself, as if it were a mantra . No one ever made this promise to any of us. You take the lemons and make lemonade. That has always helped my mindset to never give up. Usually, it is never as bad as you think. Take a moment to vent and then let it go.

Our egos can be our own worst enemies. Others, in general do not care about my self-esteem nor your self-esteem. Nothing is more boring than hearing others talk about how important they are. That old saying about the bigger they are, the harder they fall is so true in this case. If you hold your ego so close to your position in life, your ego will fall when your position falls - one only need to study history to find this to be true. If one must tell others just how important they are, then they probably are not!

Most of us will not earn the mega-bucks right out of college, much less right out of high school. You must work for them. It is a slow process and depending on the career path that we choose, there are ways to earn more if that is your goal. There are no short-cuts. Flipping burgers and bagging groceries are not beneath anyone's dignity. It is called opportunity. What I learned in my first job besides how to make that cute little curl on the top of a Dairy Queen ice cream cone is how to deal with customers, many of whom are not always polite. Remaining calm and kind in the face of an irrational customer had a lasting effect on me. It was not a lot of money, yet it was the start of learning how to budget not only my money, but my time. I never remember this being taught in school. It is a life lesson.

There were times that I came home from school, as early as third grade elementary, complaining to my mother about how mean a teacher was. The reply that I received back was, "If you think your teacher is tough, just wait until you get a boss." At the age of 9 or 10 that really did not register with me. Once I was in high school, it made a bit more sense, in that I could relate the power that a teacher had over his/her students vs. what a boss would have. This life lesson of finding out exactly what is being asked for me to produce in order to correct my mistakes saved me from receiving bad grades, as well as from receiving bad evaluations in my job, much less getting fired. 

Some bosses can be quite nasty, as can some teachers or professors. It is up to us to respond accordingly. I know there are some horror stories out there. The one that I am choosing to share and ask my readers about is: Ever had the 'top dog' boss speak at a meeting for those supervisors under him and have him say, "If you don't like the way things are going, then go on down to McDonald's. I hear they are hiring." He meant it. All 300 plus employees had to make a choice. When you are out in the real world, your fate is in your own hands. You can walk away from such bullying tactics or stand up straight and tall and deal with it. Be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it!

Along, sort of, that same subject is to always be nice to nerds. There is a good chance that we all will be working for one some day. The boss man that I spoke about above was not in this category of being a nerd. Let's just say more of a perfect example of an ineffective leader. Many, not all, of us sitting in the room being spoken to were probably considered nerds at some stage in our lives. I have learned that it is always a good thing to spend time with people from whom I can learn something better. This has always taken me closer to my dreams.

In the end, remember, life is not divided up into semesters or quarters, where you receive the summers off. This is even true of teachers. Contrary to public opinion, they do attend workshops and conventions over the summer without any extra pay. It is considered the "norm" now. Television and movie teachers are definitely not in the real world. 

Perpetual optimism is an attitude and a strategy for life. As Thomas Friedman stated, " Hope and optimism aren't just attitudes, they are life strategies."  We need to always work on sharpening our skills to become the best that we can be.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over

In the last week, I know that I have heard the saying of, "Old Age Sucks" way too many times. It seems as we do age,there seems to be more times when an illness takes hold and the days of bouncing back quickly seem to elude us. It is still a horrible saying and one that has the ability to bring on a bout of depression, if you allow that. I truly believe it is a choice that each one of us has to make.

My grandmother taught me well. She did not give out her age. In fact, somehow, she miraculously hid it from my grandfather until he saw her passport. I, for one, have given so many different ages and years that I was born in, that I actually must look at my driver's license at times to be sure.

My choice has been made. It is important to talk about how we feel with those close to us. It helps to put all things in perspective. You can see and hear for yourself that you are not imagining your aches and pains. It helps to know when it is important to go see your doctor. It is also equally important that we realize that growing older is inevitable. Giving in and giving up is an option.

A dear friend sent out some very powerful quotes from some of the older generation who may inspire others. I know they certainly inspired me. therefore, being such the nerd on quotes, this blog is dedicated to specifically some of these inspirational people. They did not give in to old age and we should not ever believe differently. Age is truly just a number.


Never put an age limit on your dreams. The trick to aging gracefully is to enjoy it.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Who's In Charge

Have you ever wondered exactly who is in charge when you are admitted to the hospital? Really, I have not thought too much about it until it happened in our family. Then, it brought back memories. 

Let's just forget about times when I was hospitalized for childbirth and after that, another illness that just popped up out of nowhere. These all happened long, long ago. Let's talk about in the here and now. Many things have changed since the 1980's. Mostly for the better, depending on many factors.

When you go into an emergency room under the orders from your doctor that state abnormalities on your EKG, basically, they will take you back to a room ASAP. The nurses will get you hooked up to machines in order to tell exactly how stable your vitals are. This is how it happened with my husband.

Once you are there, you are in their hands if you want to find out what exactly is wrong with you. There are some things that you may want to keep in mind on how to manage this kind of unexpected situation. It will help things run more smoothly.

It is true, you are in their hands, however, you have rights. Not rights to be rude, overbearing, and obnoxious. I am talking about rights to question what medications are being administered to you and why. Also, what tests are being conducted and why. Asking them to be specific and continue questioning until you understand what is being said. It helps if you have a significant other with you, simply due to the fact that you may be feeling so poorly that it is hard to grasp what is being done to you. At this point, you just want to be well. I was the one there questioning whenever Steve did not. He may have understood it all, I needed to be in the know, also.

If the ER staff determine that you need to be admitted to the hospital for further testing, your stress level can escalate. As you take the ride on the gurney up to your room, it seems like the ride to hell. Putting on that stylish hospital gown and having a name/birthday bracelet placed on your wrist can be intimidating. Steve's sense of humor was still in tact, in that he said he was starting to feel like the hospital was the Hotel California where you can check in but you can never leave.

The best advice that can be taken at this stage is to be open to your new environment. Hopefully you have someone who can be your spokesperson for when you are not able to. Maybe to even be your sounding board to bounce questions and ideas off of, such as if you need a second opinion. Someone must remain 'the constant.' Even though I stayed from early morning until after dinner was served, I knew that I must get rest so that I would be on my toes for the next day. I was his 'constant.'

One thing that is different from when I had been admitted to the hospital years ago is that now there is a doctor assigned as "the case worker." He/she oversees all of the specialists and pulls all of the information together. They are in the advisory role.

Just in case you may not have a significant other or family member who can be your advocate, be aware that most hospitals have staff members who can advocate on your behalf. Take advantage of this if necessary. They can help you know your rights. 

Did you know that you have the right to decline any treatment, including tests, if this is what you want? Even if you don't understand why they need a particular test or to administer a certain kind of medication, until they can explain it in a way that you are able to comprehend. At that stage you have the right to tell them to go with their plan of action or not. Remember, there are no dumb questions. Never be afraid to ask.

One more important piece of advice based on this true experience. Every doctor does not always have a pleasant bedside manner. Even so, he/she does not have the right to come in and upset patients to the point of worry and anxiety, whereas a nurse needs to help in calming the patient after the visit.

First, let's remember that doctors are human. Steve's case manager doctor came in to his room at 10:30 P.M. (Obviously, he had been working a very long day). He questioned him for 30 minutes. At one point argued with him about the dates of a surgery that Steve remembered vividly. My very calm, polite husband shared with me that this doctor made him feel as if he were in The Spanish Inquisition. That was all I needed to hear!

The nurse actually came in toward the end of this doctor's visit because the monitor showed how fast Steve's heart started beating during this 'interrogation.' He shared this with me when I arrived the next morning. I can only tell you that I was ready to go hunt this man down and tell him how the cow will chew the cud! Actually, I was thinking much worse.

Instead, I did some mindful breathing to calm myself down. But wait! Moments later, in walked that doctor! He said a hello to us and went straight into what was going to take place next and in a calm, quiet way. Really, nothing like how Steve witnessed him the night before, even though his social skills were marginal. For example, he did not use our names, shake hands as other doctors did, come in closer to us, or ask if we had any questions. (He needs to retake Bedside Manners 101).

As he was leaving, I called his name and asked if I could have a word with him? He seemed a bit taken back, however, he of course, agreed. He did not move in closer, much less come to my side of the room. What he did do was listen to me. I used a calm, cool and collected voice. Always start with a compliment, so I told him that I had heard good things about him. Our family doctor only has referred us to the best of the best for doctors outside of his expertise. Then, I went in for the disappointment in him due to how distraught my husband felt after his late night health survey visit. That was really not an appropriate time to question a man in a hospital bed with atrial fibrillation. I let him know that the nurse came in after he left to find out why his heart rate had gone so high out of whack. To end the conversation with him, I simply said that he was to treat my husband from now on with kid gloves. 

What could he do? What could he say? He nodded his head and mumbled something that I took as an apology as he left. I asked Steve if I embarrassed him or if he thought I handled it professionally. He told me that he thought I did well.

It seems that I must have, because every visit from then on was calm and informative. He was on the best bedside manner behavior that he was able to give, which was good.

There are times that one must have uncomfortable conversations and luckily my former job prepared me for this. I am my husband's strong advocate. I will always be there for him, just as he is for me. 

So...I ask again..."Who Is In Charge?" 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Returning Monday

Due to a family emergency, no blog Friday.

All is well and will be returning on Monday with some of the adventures.

Monday, August 14, 2017

What's Love Got To Do With It?

In the real world, does one have to have a true love, a life partner, a soulmate, a spouse, a boyfriend/girlfriend or significant other in order to live out a happy and fulfilled life? I am here to say boldly that the answer is absolutely not.

Some people who know me may say that is easy for you to say because you have that one special person in your life. Yes, I do. It took both of us quite a while to make the connection of just who would be the one to make each of us happier, fulfilled and so deeply in loved and cherished. Time, distance and the universe were not exactly on our sides to ever meet. It just happened due to many outside factors and one very big factor that comes from within all of us. We became much more self-aware and learned how to love ourselves and be happy from within ourselves.

That is my point of this whole spiel. Let it just happen. Really, you can't go out in search and find "the one and only" that you want for yourself. There are too many unknowns that play into just letting love find the way, as I mentioned above.

First, and most important of all, you have to be happy and content within yourself. If you are not happy it sort of makes others tend to stay away. Real smiles and happiness that come from the heart are felt for miles around. It shows that you have a love of life, that you are confident in yourself. I love the term of an authentic person. By that I mean a person who is confident, shows empathy, has realistic perceptions, is thoughtful, has a sense of humor and is a life long learner. Truly, I could add many more fine qualities, most of which overlap to a degree.

The point is when a person can be happy within themselves, they do not need someone else for true happiness. Love and romance is not the be-all and end-all of adult life. We all should be in charge and in control of our own happiness. We can choose it if we really want happiness. 

Once that is established the world is out there for each of us to explore. You never know what you may find or what may find you? We may all have the media telling us that for women, as well as men, we must look a certain way in order to find that one and only of our dreams. That is just NOT so. The saying of beauty is in the eye of the beholder is alive and well. First and foremost of all, one can be voted the most beautiful or most handsome or most sexy person out there, however, if the qualities that I talked about above are missing, the relationship will have a crack in it from the get-go. Just think of all of the famous so-called beautiful people in the world. Are all of them matched up to their life-partner and happy? Why? Because they themselves have not found their own happiness. 

There is someone out there for everyone if that is what you want. Bottom line is take care of your happiness and well-being. Whatever else comes your way is the icing on the cake, if that is what you desire. A key word here is patience. You never know when or where, because for most of us it takes years of working on ourselves before anything else will happen. Embrace yourself, then if you want someone else of your choosing to embrace you, it is more likely to happen. You can only love someone else to the extent that you love yourself. This was a hard lesson for me to learn.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back To School

It is that time of the year again, which means teachers and kids will be heading back to school. Depending on where you live will determine the dates that they all return. Many schools in the deep South begin the first week of August when it is the hottest time of the season; whereas up North schools wait for Labor Day. Everyone goes the minimum standard 180 days. My question is why not start later in the South and get out of school in June, when the heat is starting to build, instead of getting out the third week in May? Who really has control over this and is it possible to change it? Certainly not the teachers.

Since I have been in the field of education, I feel that I have some inside knowledge that may help the general public think about the real life of a teacher. I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me about how wonderful it must be to have the whole summer off. HA! The public, as a whole, has no clue about how much of a teacher's time is spent in workshops and conferences over the summer. Sometimes a stipend is paid out, usually not. The teachers have the right to not attend, yet if they don't, they start the school year off with a big disadvantage because the information given at the workshops/conferences usually involve new skills that they are expected to teach and therefore will be evaluated on the job that they are doing.

When Joe E. Public thinks of a teacher's job, it usually involves the thought process of how nice it must be to have such a cushy job. Let me take you through just some of what a teacher deals with on a daily basis. First of all, they must work with administrators, some of which excelled in the class of Micromanagement 101. Then, on the other hand you have the ones that you never see. Even though you may believe this is good - it means that you have no one to support you with the parents. Sometimes, teachers get lucky and have a very understanding principal, which does help somewhat, even though the district mandates are out of his/her control.

Yes, let's talk about the parents! Most of them are just fine and can be a teacher's greatest ally, especially as long as the teacher has good communication skills and sends home newsletters. The problem here is that when you have students who do not get the newsletters or homework assignments home, a parent will come up to the school in a heartbeat and tell the teacher, the principal and anyone else who will listen that the problem is not their child, it is that teacher. I am not sure if they expect the teacher to pack each newsletter/assignment in every child's backpack personally, or to hand deliver them in person to the parent. When does the child take responsibility? Are there consequences for the child if they come home without their assignment folder? 

The answer is a great big, "NO!" Why? The reason is because the parent never established ground rules from the first day of kindergarten. Speaking from experience as a parent, the first thing that I did was get my children to show me their folder each day. There may be notes from the teacher, graded papers that may need signed and returned, newsletters that told me about important events going on in the classroom and the school and the log of homework assignments.

Next in a teacher's job comes the endless task of grading papers. This can't be done while teaching. It will be completed once the students have gone home. The teacher may have an after-school club that she is in charge of so stop thinking that she gets to go home when most of the kids go home. In fact, many also stay to tutor those kids who need extra help. Grading papers usually means during the time that other professionals are relaxing and watching TV with their families.

Something else that must be done late at night or through the weekend...that is to write lesson plans. Principals always have specific formats for writing lesson plans, usually based on the school district's objectives. Just as teachers get used to one way, it swings another way, sometimes even mid-year. These are not a page for each day. These can turn into a folder of 15 - 20 pages for one week of lesson plans by the time each requested component has been addressed.

Probably wherever you work there are acronyms for everything. Although, I am not sure why the field of education has so many. My guess is that the school has their own, the district adds to the school, then the state education department throws some in for good measure and let's not forget the nationwide program of NCLB and the IEP with the 504. Be sure that you as the teacher have completed the SLO so that the student who is having difficulty will do better on his CRCT and MAP in order to hold a SST meeting. I am not even going to decipher that for you. 

This is when the teacher takes a moment (when her students are finally at a special class) to head for the Teacher's Lounge for the sugar and caffeine that is almost always in there. Along with everything else, this is where you will find the copier machines, which probably are out of toner or broken down. If the teacher really needs copies, the best option is to arrive at school at 6:00 a.m. when the building engineer opens the doors and possibly she beats the crowd to the copier that may start the day working but conks out later through overuse. And, you must know the word "lounge" is used loosely. Usually there is a refrigerator in there that most people would not want to put a thing in along with the horrific science experiments on every shelf and growing on the walls. At one time, long ago, the cleaning crews cleaned the fridge, wiped the tables and mopped the floors. That was once upon a time. Today is today.

Everyone needs to applaud teachers for what they do. It is certainly not for the salary. It is for the love of children. Now, I will say, yes there are a few teachers who need weeded out. I have been in three states and nine different schools. The majority of teachers are there because it was their calling. They love what they do and they get excited when they see the light bulb (literally) pop up over their students' heads. 

This is what it is all about. So go out and THANK a teacher. Words of gratitude mean the world to them.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Respond or React?

It is okay to be wrong. Sometimes, I believe that as we are growing up, we get the idea put into our beliefs that we must be right all the time. That is not possible. As soon as each person comes to grip with that concept is when they have started the journey of growing up to become a responsible adult.

I know that it is not always easy to accept criticism. Usually, it has to do with the way it may be presented to us, at least it is that way for me. Constructive criticism is a good thing in my book. It is not as if I don't trust my own inner instincts...I do! This is very important for all of us to understand in order to continue to grow. I know many people of all ages who can't seem to listen to the voice in their head telling them they are correct or perhaps that they need to step back and start over with a new twist on their ideas.

Plowing ahead in the wrong direction will get one nowhere fast. On the other hand, plowing ahead with good ideas is not a bad way to go, just a rather lonely way to go. Why not collaborate and work on going further and faster with someone else's eyes and ideas helping you? I find when I do that, I have choices. I can either fine tune my idea using someone's suggestions, or I can stay on my own path and ignore. It is not a case of being prickly about another person's suggestions. Just a matter of having an open mind.

In other words, go ahead and get comfortable with not having all of the answers. It may mean letting your ego flare up within you for a moment. That is alright; as long as you are able to draw in wisdom from that. Learning how to calm yourself is a skill that many of us need to practice. Find ways to self-soothe yourself that are acceptable, which may mean listening to a quiet, calm voice within yourself. Never blame yourself for the dark cloud of moodiness hanging over you when someone points out your errors or ways to improve.

Instead, learn how to respond rather than react. The difference is easy to explain. Immature people tend to react. For example, if someone lets you know that your theory has some miscalculations in it, a response would be to firmly object and go on to explain or demonstrate why or why not. A reaction would be to throw a fit, burst into tears, or slap them across the face. All of these reactions are emotionally charged. Just because someone brought you a cactus, does not mean that you have to sit on it.

In order to put a hold on reactions and do more responding, I like to use a trick that I have learned over the years of dealing with people who have come to me with their reaction of what has happened to them in one way or another and they are demanding that I "fix the problem." 

First of all:   Listen to them. As long as they are speaking without yelling or cursing, give them some time to give you criticism on the way things are done that they feel you may or may not be responsible for. Let them vent. I have observed that usually one loud and obnoxious behavior from one person can trigger that same emotion in another person. What is accomplished then? Someone has to take the lead and respond in a calm and skilled manner. This takes away the drama.

In the end, you can agree to disagree, the difference in handling criticism this way is that it means that two sides have taken responsibility for their own actions and attitudes by taking control of their emotions. We all have this power within us. You are not there to have your mind changed into their beliefs. They may possibly start out thinking they have all the answers, yet if handled responsibly, they will also see that there are two views to every situation. (In some cases, even more!)

J.K. Rowling said, "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you've failed by default."

Friday, August 4, 2017

Trials and Tribulations of a Dog and His Humans

This, sadly to say, is what our 8 month old puppy dog looks like today. He is not a happy camper, needless to say, which in turn has made us not too happy either. We, as his owners, are trying our best to keep his spirits up and to let him know that he is loved deeply. 

As smart as he is (and Goldendoodles are known for their intelligence) he has no idea of why this is on him and for what purpose it serves. We knew that our puppy was not going to be used to breed other puppies and as responsible dog owners, we had him neutered. Both of us knew that he would be wearing the 'Elizabethan collar' for a while to keep him from licking and harming his stitches. I think that the wearing it for 10 days is what hit us big time.

Ten days is a very long time. For my previous dogs, it just seemed to be an uncomfortable process to go through. Nothing too complicated. However, this was not the case with our Davis. 

The day of the surgery we dropped him off to his very loving vet, Dr. Taylor. About an hour later, she called us to tell us that she was going to need to make an extra incision because Davis had a testicle that had grown upwards. She explained that it is very crucial to get to it because it is a known cancer cause later in life. Of course, we said please take care of what needs to be done.

After surgery she called to tell us that the good news is that when she made the incision, the testicle was laying right there on top of his tummy and that she did not have to go searching for it. So all was done. We could pick him up at closing time.

Dr. Taylor was there and so was Davis, a little bit drowsy and still coming out of the surgery mode. He was happy to see us. She gave us the instructions on how to care for him until the stitches came out. We were given a pain pill for later and one to give for the next night. She did explain that if he started to act rambunctious on Thursday, to come back over to pick up some 'downers' to sedate him some. 

OH MY GOODNESS! Our puppy did not make it till Thursday. The first day after surgery (Wednesday at 8 A.M.) this fiesty little devil had eaten through the gauze that held on the cone around his head. He had escaped from the cone. Luckily, we were in the same room with him when I saw the cone laying on his bed after he had gnawed through the gauze.

We tried to get it back together and had so much trouble that I had to call the clinic. We were told to bring him back over and they would take care of it. The two of us loaded Davis back in the car to get it taken care of by his technician. She brought in one of the other vets, since Dr. Taylor was out of town, and he thought we should go ahead and take the sedatives home with us to avoid another trip. He said to start with a half one and that we could add another half if necessary.

Once we were home, Davis was clearly a bit agitated and would not settle down. We gave him 1/2 pill. An hour later, he had gone from totally agitated and pawing at his cone to maybe 90%. We chose to give him the other 1/2 pill. It took an hour for him to finally be settled some. It did not knock him out, only made him walk a little wobbly. It did help him not paw at his cone and sleep on and off some.

At bedtime, we gave him another 1/2 tablet. The night before, I was up each hour from 1:00 A.M. onward to peek around the corner and check on him. He was fine. I was sleepless! Dozing between the hours. Finally, I heard him with his cone hitting the sides of his crate at 7 A.M. and just got up. Steve was close behind.

When we got him out of his crate, we noticed that he had been eating away at the tabs on the cone. There was a very sharp piece of plastic that could stick him anywhere on his head if the cone was in the right position. Steve held him still while I snipped the sharp edges down. I really can't tell you how worried that I became. My stomach was in knots. Do I call the vet again? Do we just monitor? Do we knock him out with a whole sedative? (And I am sure that Steve's choice was to not only knock him out but to knock me out too.)

Truly, I was a basket care. I could not concentrate on anything. I was replaying the vet's words that each day would be better and the stitches would stop bothering him. He is young and they will heal quickly. Then all he has to deal with is the cone. (as if that is nothing!)

It took two hours before Davis was sedated and even then he was not stone-cold out. Steve gave him a bully stick and he worked on that all afternoon between a few little short dozes. When I saw that he was settling some, Steve talked me into going out and having a manicure to help settle myself some. Finally, I took him up on it. As usual, he was right, in that it was exactly what I needed.

When I returned home the two of them were just fine. Davis had settled and the two of us knew that as long as we kept the right amount of sedative in him, that he would not destroy the cone and hurt himself. The big fear that I had was that he would get to the stitches, therefore making us start the clock all over again with the cone-head.

As you can see, he was napping and resting and not as stressed. When he is not stressed, then I am better, therefore Steve gets a break. 

lt still seems like it will be a long week. I know one dog and two humans who can hardly wait until next Friday morning at 9:30 to get these stitches removed. Meanwhile, Davis has learned how to look even more pitiful so that he can be hand fed some of his favorite treats, such as blueberries and watermelon. He is one smart puppy dog and one that is loved very much!

There is a rather comical picture of a large German Shepherd that I found. He had to wear the cone and his owner got a bit overly creative and turned him into a dogtini. Even though I will admit that I laughed, my empathy for dogs who have to go through wearing the cone would never allow me to do such a thing to Davis, not even for a photo shoot.