Here is one of my core beliefs: to improve parenting, learning, and taking care of yourself, make sure you go outside each day.
Let nature nurture.
Fresh air, sunshine, feet and hands in the dirt help cure a lot of what ails us.
Need help with stress? Sleep? Moods?
Take a walk.
“In beauty may I walk. All day long may I walk. Through the returning seasons may I walk. On the trail marked with pollen may I walk. With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk. With dew about my feet may I walk. With beauty may I walk. With beauty before me, may I walk. With beauty behind me, may I walk. With beauty above me, may I walk. With beauty below me, may I walk. With beauty all around me, may I walk. In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk. In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk. It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty.”
Blanchard begins by explaining that we’ve been trained to analyze what is wrong with poor people and neighborhoods. We look for all the deficits and problems, designing programs to “help” which are “built on broken” and often don’t work.
Her experience of coming from poverty and finding success has informed her work. She describes her young parents doing the best they could to build a life out of their imaginations, not knowing they were broken. She did not see herself as broken and she does not view the people she works with as broken.
In her work, Blanchard shifts the lens from a view of what’s missing to focus on what is present and strong. She feels this changes everything about how you work with people and how they respond.
Her three major strategies are:
Ask new questions – not what is broken but what is working? Ask individuals: What do you need? What do you have? What works? What is strong? Look for examples of strength and resiliency and build on what is already working.
Listen – find out what matters most, what individuals are driven to do because they care deeply. When you work with what matters to a person YOU don’t need to try to motivate them, they are already motivated and inspired to act.
Work WITH – since you don’t view the person as broken, you can stand side-by-side and work with them to reach their goals.
Blanchard’s experience using this approach in the poorest neighborhoods of Houston and with groups of people relocated from the Hurricane Katrina is instructive and motivating. She gives examples demonstrating that when you change the questions, it changes how people view themselves. They can see their potential when you respect that they all have deep aspirations and imagination for what they want to do in their life. They are encouraged and better able to move forward. She concludes:
“ If we can move a neighborhood, we can change a city, if we can change a city, we can inspire a country, and .. we can change the world.” Angela Blanchard
I’m wondering, can we apply her model to education?
What if we took this approach with our children and our students?
Empowered them and tapped into their motivation?
What if we changed our assessments and instead of looking for deficits we looked for strengths?
Asked them to tell us what is working? What they know how to do and can do well?
What if we really listened and asked:
What do you care about?
What are your hopes and dreams?
What really matters to you?
What if instead of telling our children or students what to do, we stood beside them to help them accomplish their goals and solve problems?
Imagine, could we change our families, a classroom, a school,… the world?
Today when I saw several posts /tweets about feeling negative, frustrated or stuck, I could relate. No matter how wonderful life is, there is always room to grow.
I’ve been in transition for the past few years, with Dale heading out into the world and the new responsibilities of caring for my mom. Empty nest but not really.
Who am I now that I’m not “Dale’s mom” full time? How do I parent my parent? How does my relationship with my hubby change with no child in the house, but parents in need? What about me and my career aspirations? What do I want to be when I grow up? S**t, I’m over 50!!!
So what am I doing about it?
Learning to play the ukulele!
I call mine Dr. Uke. I appreciate that my playing prescription has few or no contraindications, requires no copays, and is available 24/7.
Learning something new is a great way to get unstuck and battle negativity.
There’s really no downside, except maybe annoying your hubby and friends. And maybe starting to require a budget for building a uke family,music library, or festival attendance.
But, hey, the world needs more enthusiasm. So, join me, on my fabulous, fun ukulele adventure.
If you don’t become a uke master, so what? You still reap the benefits which can start you moving in other areas of your life. It’s a brilliant concrete example of the progress you can make with self-directed learning. Sounds crazy, but now I’m a believer.
In a few short months, my friends and I went from uke newbies to festival attendees. And though we drove off to Reno with some trepidation, as novices with brightly colored ukes, we learned that just doing it pays off.
The uke community and instrument are amazing. All levels of players are welcome and can play together and sound good! I mean, really it wasn’t noise, it was music. (This shocked me as a former 4th and 5th grade recorder teacher!) We realized how far we had come since we started, and were stunned by the progress we could make in 50 minutes of being really challenged. And damn, it made us feel good!!!
Learning a new skill, getting out of your comfort zone, and interacting with different people will increase creativity.
When you add growing confidence and happiness, the combination is incredibly powerful. It seeps into other areas of your life. I don’t know how to explain it, but I have seen it in action. Granted my sample size is small. But I figure if I can do it, anyone can.
Concentrating on learning a song is relaxing since you’re not worrying about other stuff.
Singing & smiling are great for your brain & soul – no studies to cite, but I know it’s true.
It’s EASY to sound good and improve.
For about $50 we bought Kala Makala soprano Dolphin ukes and added Aquila strings.
There are lots of free online tutorials! We’ve taken a few lessons from teachers willing to give us infrequent lessons based on our needs.
It’s easy to join or start a group. After I started gushing about how much I loved playing, it seemed like everyone wanted to join in. Surprise!
Do you have hidden uke?
Who knew? There are lots of ukulele festivals to choose from. Attending a festival and playing in a group were way beyond my comfort zone. Immersion, more advanced lessons and intense practice boost skills, confidence, and blisters.