Regional School District 6 Blog

Dear Region 6 Community,


As we embark on 2019 we are starting something new with our website - a District Blog. This space will be reserved for district staff to share their writing with the community. To submit an item for the blog you can email cescobar@rsd6.org.


Special thanks to Julie Quinn, teacher from Goshen Center School, for being the first author to share.


Regards,


Chris




Recent Posts
By Julie Quinn
Goshen Center School

Continuing in the same spirit of going small, how do you handle overwhelming projects, to do lists, and goals? Thinking BIG in these areas is good for getting inspired, knowing where you’re going, and seeing the big picture. However, as soon as you decide and realize where you need to go, it would be more beneficial to go back to small.

What does that mean?

We all know the advice, cliches and quotes about always moving forward and never giving up! But sometimes when there’s too much ‘advice’ about something, our brains tend to overlook the importance.

 “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one single step,” or “The man who moves mountains begins by carrying away small stones.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” we say and then continue doing the opposite of whatever the piece of wisdom is offering. Maybewe subconsciously believe it doesn’t apply to us.

Fortunately, it does.

Research states that when you get 1% better at something each day, it will pay off in a big way. To put it clearly, you’ll be 3800% better at the end of a year. It’s that simple but we hardly do it. So much of our time is spent doing things that have absolutely no influence on growth or improvement in any way.

Getting 1% better at something doesn’t mean passive, lazy practice. It’s more than that. Your practice time needs to be purposeful and meaningful.

For example, if you want to be better at playing the piano, don’t just practice the same songs you already know. Practice a part more challenging and do it over and over. 

If you want to get better at soccer, don’t just kick a ball around. Make sure you’re practicing specific drills that will improve your game.

The same goes for any sport. You don’t have to do it for very long. Just get 1% better everyday. Some activities require different amounts of time to get 1% better.

If you want to become more of a minimalist but never begin the clearing out process because it’s too overwhelming, start with one bag. Get one bag and fill it up with things you don’t need. Donate it, sell it, give it to someone you know who might appreciate it. How long will that take? Imagine doing that everyday? By the end of the week you’d have 7 bags! By the end of a month you’d have 30 bags!

How much time do you spend scrolling on your phone? Your fingers and brains were meant for bigger and better things.

Think about the bags when you are starting any new overwhelming endeavor. Imagine filling up your bag each day when you’re ready to practice. Make sure it’s meaningful so your bag really does fill up each time you get 1% better.

 

For Kids

How does your child handle overwhelming projects and assignments? How do you handle them?

For young kids learning how to read, this is a wonderful piece of advice to start them off.. Teach the value of tackling something big by going small and staying calm. For the very young or very overwhelmed, start with 2  minutes everyday. Then, increase the time to 5 minutes and go from there. Make sure those minutes are really spent practicing. Don’t spend them holding the book together and staring into space or trying to convince your child to tackle some words. If that time is spent really practicing and you are doing it everyday, things will happen.

And remember the power of momentum. Many times, once you start something it’s easier to keep going. That means you’ll often improve more than just 1% a day.

One of my favorite books on writing is called Bird by Bird. When the author was young and her brother had to write a report about birds, he waited until the last possible day to start. He was overwhelmed. Their dad gave him advice to take it ‘bird by bird’. Start with one bird and then go to the next. That’s the only way. Somehow we think we must be doing it wrong if it’s this hard and this basic at the same time. We’re not. Every human on the planet who’s ever accomplished anything had to do it bag by bag and bird by bird.

 

Posted by cescobar  On Feb 20, 2019 at 11:32 AM
  

By Julie Quinn Goshen Center School

We are bombarded with messages about more stuff, bigger stuff and faster stuff.  Big houses, faster cars, big schedules, big goals, more clothes, more gadgets, faster technology, more pictures, better pictures, more activities, more toys, more channels, faster service, more apps,  more stores, bigger stores, more food, more sales, more junk mail, more texts, more deals, more emails, more posts, more likes, more lists. The long list goes on. No wonder we feel like there’s never any time. No wonder we feel stress. Our brains are exhausted from all this decision making and feeling we have to keep up.

Maybe we can take a huge load off our shoulders when we decide to choose small instead. Try accumulating a smaller amount of toys for your kids and donate the rest. Delete some apps so you’re not glued to your phone all day. Don’t open the email from stores advertising more sales. Take a break from social media. Read a book. Don’t order the extra app or drink when you’re out to eat.  Downsize. Clear up your schedule. Say ‘no’ once in a while. Stop eating when you’re full. Get rid of clothes. Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Simplify. If you want to be entertained, take a walk in nature. Then your mind will feel bigger and faster and have more room for what’s important. Think about how it feels when you clear off a cluttered space. Imagine that as your mind with less decisions to make, places to be, people to text, things to buy.

When we try to do it all and have it all, our bodies and minds turn into a state of stress. We weren’t born to be in a constant state of stress. Be gentle on yourself. Choose small. You’ll get big results!

 

For Kids

When children don’t have time to read for 15-30 minutes because their schedule is too full, it might be a good time to choose small for them. When children are stressed and anxious on a daily basis, choosing small and less might be what they need. A child’s mind is growing. It needs space for lots of downtime, lots of daydreaming, and learning how to handle boredom. Don’t give them more when they’re bored. They probably already have too much. When a child is constantly shuttled around from one activity to another, their brains are too wired. When a child is managed and given too much help with every frustration they face, they aren’t learning independence, confidence, or how to handle challenges. When a child is given too much, they’ll never know the benefits of keeping things small. They’ll be so used to having lots of stuff, rushing off to lots of activities and getting lots of help. It won’t help them in the long run. Be gentle on your kids. Choose small.

Posted by cescobar  On Feb 20, 2019 at 11:31 AM
  

MAKE IT AN AMAZING YEAR

By Julie Quinn

Goshen Center School


There’s nothing like a brand new year to make us see beyond the minutiae of our day to day lives. All of our truest desires and beliefs and passions rise to the surface. We’re filled with hope. We believe in ourselves. We make lists. We set goals. We’re finally going to live the kind of life we know we can have.


I’m not going to talk about the bag of cookies you scarfed down four weeks later in your car waiting for your kid’s practice to be over instead of going for a run like you wrote on your list. Or about the one time you got up an hour earlier to practice that thing on your list that you wanted to accomplish by the end of the year but then ended up scrolling through Instagram for the full hour so you never bothered getting up early again.

I’m not going there because that’s not where the light from your list came from. That stuff doesn’t need any more attention.

Let’s go back to the list. To that feeling. To the person you were (and still are) when you wrote the list. You had butterflies. You felt centered and calm and were clear with your intentions. Your face glowed a little. People commented that you looked happy. Happy! You were lighter. The millions upon millions of random plastic toy bits and pieces from Christmas presents and legos scattered around every inch of your floor and sticking into your feet didn’t phase you. You simply kept your shoes on to avoid injury. No big deal. You carefully piled another dish on top of the already overflowing piles of dishes erupting from your sink. Not a problem, you think. There will always be dishes. Grocery shopping with your kids was actually….fulfilling. You had too many important things to think about.

You were inspired.

But then...

… a few days went by and things started feeling uneasy. That’s because you still hadn’t started anything on your list. Well, maybe a little yesterday when you did some planks. It was something. But what about that other big thing you really, really love. The one thing that you know deep down is what you’re meant to be doing. Your passion - the thing that lights you up. We all have one. Nobody was born without one.

Well, that’s too big and scary so I’ll just wait a little bit longer, you think.

It’s not going anywhere, you say to yourself.  I have much more important things to think about.

The dishes need to be washed. I’m out of milk. I need to sort this pile of paperwork. I need to pay bills. The kids homework still isn’t done. I need to RSVP to this birthday party. I need to get a gift for the party tomorrow.  Kids have too many parties, you gripe. I need to return a text. I need to tweet. I need to check Instagram. I need to post. Oh look, there’s my friend eating pizza on Facebook. She even took a picture of the pizza. I wonder why she took a picture of the pizza? Why don’t my pizzas look like that? Is she showing off? There’s my friend I haven’t seen in 20 years. She got married. Wow, she gained a lot of weight. Look at this old friend traveling in Europe. I wish my life was that exciting. She always had perfect hair. How does she get her hair like that? Why is she always so happy? Why aren’t I that happy? I need to get dinner going. It’s 7:00 already? The kids are dirty. I haven’t even fed the kids. I’m exhausted. How can I get up at 5 a.m. to work on my project?  I deserve sleep. I need sleep. If I don’t sleep I’ll be grumpy. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO FOLLOW MY DREAMS, you silently scream in your head after plunking down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix instead of just going to bed early so you can get up early.

We’re so far from the light at this point, the minutiae is starting to look far more important. They give us instant structure and a barrier to sustain us throughout the day. They end up becoming a priority because we need them to help us get by. And when we depend on trivialities to get us by, our heads become frantic.  And everything becomes more urgent than it is in reality.  Our strength and purpose ends up becoming dishes and laundry and clothes and messes and Facebook and parties and bills. Of course we’re exhausted.

This is when you need to stop. Lean forward. And listen closely. The light is still there. The only thing you have to do is go back to that feeling and space and fill it up. Start over. But this time don’t let it go. Keep it alive. Hold on to it. It’s okay to stay in that light space. It’s where we were meant to be. I’ll say it again, it’s where we were meant to be. We are not put on this earth to put a hold on our light so we can pay bills, wash dishes, and check Facebook.

We can still do all those things. The only difference is now we’ll be doing them with light. When you light up from the inside, everything else feels lighter, too. Think about the times in life when you get great news and suddenly the things that normally bother you don’t seem so terrible anymore? That’s what being light feels like. It’s still good to do your dishes and keep your sink shiny and your clothes and floors clean.  Dishes and laundry and toys and plastic bits and bad moods pile up because they always have and they always will.

You will never get control of dishes, laundry, plastic bits, and bad moods.  Never. Not ever.

It’s only when our lights go dim, those things feel unbearable and heavy. Then it turns into a  spiral. Spiraling feelings of negativity and shame and guilt and overeating and overspending and over sitting and over watching and over complaining and over posting and over scrolling and over working and over gossiping and over drinking and over everything.

How do I get back to the light, you wonder.

First of all, STOP the madness. Yes, the madness. You know what I’m talking about. Drop the vacuum. Shove the laundry out of sight. Throw the dish towel over your shoulder. Put your phone down. Stop worrying. Stop comparing. Stop scrolling. Send your kids to another room or to another house. Sit down. Think. And feel your way back. Go to that place deep inside that sustains you. All of our places are different. Only you know how to get there. Lighten up. It might take a little while but once you get there, be fully aware of how it feels.

Then, act.

Just a little. Of course you’re busy. Whatever it is you want to do, figure out a way to do it. Pay attention to how it feels and write it down so you can remind yourself of this feeling once “reality” returns. Find a way to keep returning to this place day after day. If you have to hide in your bathroom or closet or car just to get away, then do it. Get a babysitter.  Go to bed at 8 and get up at 5. Find a way to do a little bit each day. This is the uncomfortable part. It’s the part that stops us. It’s the part that finds one million excuses. It’s the part that’s not easy for anyone.  But it’s the only way to get to the light. And, the more you do it, the easier it will become. Then, it will become a habit. Then, you will start feeling lighter much of the time. Can you imagine? No, really. Can you imagine?

When you can do that, your kids will see it shining out of your face like little sparkles of light. When your kids see you happy and filled up, what better gift can you possibly give? A new Nintendo will never replace a kid seeing his/her parent glowing from the inside. They will recognize it instinctively. They want you to be there because when you’re there, you’re present. Being present is the only thing your kid truly needs and wants from you anyway. Go on and get back to that feeling. Go find it. You know what you need to do to get it back. When you find it, remember how it feels. Write it down.

Then, do the laundry.

FOR KIDS

When your kid is driving you crazy maybe THEY aren’t in the light. Just as I was working on this post,  I read Angelina Ballerina to my three year old. Angelina is driving her parents crazy because she’s constantly dancing. Because of this, her room is always a mess, she’s never ready for school on time, she gets into trouble and gets on her mother’s nerves. Then, her parents finally figure out that she needs to go to ballet lessons. Once she started lessons, things suddenly changed. She happily cleaned her room, helped her mom with chores and was always on time. Her passion was finally respected, acknowledged, and given its own place in the world. Maybe your child is yearning for that place. Maybe your child just needs to be understood and heard and respected.

Sometimes it’s as simple as being acknowledged for who they really are and what they really love. Find your sacred place and respect it.

Then, do the same for your child.


Posted by cescobar  On Jan 23, 2019 at 2:49 PM
  
 
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