Because of the Common, Ordinary People… – Wise Words Wednesday

Because of the common ordinary

Those who choose to serve our nation are anything but common or ordinary, but in his Veteran’s Day address to his children’s school, First Sergeant Curtis Brandt shared the powerful impacts that have resulted from the efforts of those who were doing what they considered common and ordinary.

During his 18 years of serving in the Missouri National Guard, Curtis has worked to protect and enhance the lives of individuals here on American soil and in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Panama, Germany, Kuwait and Qatar. While on his missions to help those in need and protecting those who could not protect themselves, First Sergeant Brandt has missed many moments with his children, such as first steps and first toothy grins, and faced his son not knowing who he was after a year of deployment. There does not seem to be anything “common” or “ordinary” about giving up the ability to witness defining moments in the life of one’s child.

In his speech Curtis encouraged the students to be aware of how many veterans were sitting with them at that prayer service. His message was engaging and inspired those there to be thankful for and mindful of those who serve and have served in our military. He reminded them that our nation was not always one that enjoyed liberty, or lived with the rights of speech and religion, and was not always able to provide protection from prejudice. The students were challenged to find ways to thank veterans and their own means for keeping our country united. Continue reading “Because of the Common, Ordinary People… – Wise Words Wednesday”

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Don’t Worry…They are Struggling Too

Don't Worry...they are struggling too

“I don’t care what they think.”

“Who do they think they are? Judging me?”

“Seriously, why do they think they are better than me?”

How often do we find ourselves making these snarky statements?

Our rhetoric for these loaded comments usually shows itself when we feel like someone does not like us or something we do. We immediately go on the defensive and throw down the I-don’t-care-what-you-think-of-me jargon, but inside we are battling the why-don’t-they-like-me fight.

Some of the snarkiest people I have ever met are also some of the most insecure individuals I have known. To inflate their self-perception, they preach a degrading dialogue about anyone they think they bring down. The problem with this kind of judging is that the hurtful words usually become flames in the fire of burning bridges for future friendships and work experiences.

Let me give you a for instance: When I was in college I worked for an entertainment retailer. My job included working in the book department, the cafe, and training new employees. I loved that job. There was one associate, who we will call Adam. Adam did a nice job on register and worked well with customers on the floor. He eventually made it to the ranks of shift manager. After becoming a shift manager, for whatever reason, Adam gradually became unhappy with the company. He put in his two weeks notice. One night while closing the store, I overheard him tell another associate that he never comes to work for his last day at any job. Well, I knew what was coming and planned to come in the day of his last shift. We were going to be short a manager. Continue reading “Don’t Worry…They are Struggling Too”

Where is Denial?

There is a new commercial for Sonic Drive-Ins. The commercial is advertising a special price on one of their value meals. One of the guys enjoying his meal says he had not enjoyed that price since college. The other replies, “No. I was in college. You were in denial.”

My kids wanted to know where “denial” was.

How do I explain denial to my kids?

My wise response was, “Denial is when you don’t or won’t accept or realize that you don’t know something.”

My son’s response was, “Huh?”

Seriously, how do we explain denial to our children? I tried again.

“You are in denial when you refuse to accept something is true or you won’t believe something because you don’t want it to be real.”

My son’s reply, “Like when I didn’t want the Chiefs to lose tonight?”

My response, “Sort of.”

I don’t think lessons about denial are strictly for our children. I believe denial is a concept which we all need to know more.

When there is a bad habit or an unhealthy relationship in our lives, denial is a much easier route to follow than the realize-your-problem-and-move-on path. The worst part of denial is that others can recognize our denial before we can. It is up to us to serve as the anti-denial GPS for those we love.

As we enter the season of holiday cheer, shopping, and family functions, take time to identify what you may be denying about yourself and your relationships. If you find that you have put your family connections on the back burner because “they will always be there,” realize that your time with them is precious and let go of the denial that we are all growing older. When it comes to shopping, don’t let the whole, holiday sale price thing entice you into overspending. Next month’s rent, car payment, and insurance sure won’t be in denial when it comes time to pay the bill. Be honest with yourself about what you can spend and what is truly valuable in what you give.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Denial could be a good school, but how do you know if you graduated?

via Daily Prompt: Deny

Sometimes the Answer is “No.”

Sometimes the Answer is No

Monday the electric company cut down our pear tree.

It was not just any pear tree.

My babies and my nieces and nephews all ate canned pears from that tree when they were too young to eat the fresh pears. It was our safe spot in case of fire or evacuation when we lived in the old farm house. Countless pears from that tree were given as gifts to friends and neighbors. For 6 six years, Peters’ Pears were delivered for Letter “P” Show-and-Share Day at Miss Kim’s daycare. That tree was the first place we let our kids go to “alone” after we built our new house. (It is just up the driveway, but far enough away to feel like freedom.) When my children came home after a stressful day at school, I would often let them take a break to pick pears and de-stress as they ate the fresh fruit and walked the distance to and from that fruit-filled tree. Watching deer eat the fallen pears was always a fun pastime.

The only downfall to that tree was it stood 13 feet from the power line and the required distance was 15 feet. Even though it has never grown (and probably would never grow) tall enough to touch the lines, those two feet cost us our tree. Continue reading “Sometimes the Answer is “No.””

Don’t Knock Jokes – Funny Friday

Don't Knock Jokes

Teaching the art of joke-telling is a healthy and happy way to develop communication skills.

Every week I share a joke with the 1st and 2nd graders at our school library.  The students keep a journal of the jokes and their answers. I also always invite the students to share jokes of their own.

The 2nd grade teacher recently thanked me for getting the kids excited about reading, in particular for their excitement about reading joke and riddle books. She said, “They just can’t get enough jokes or joke books. It’s fun to see them laugh and try to tell the jokes.” It is great to see my silly habit of sharing jokes is contagious.

When kids tell jokes, they are able to laugh at themselves and their message. Too often kids are hounded with seriousness. If we can use humor to educate and provide experience, we can inspire happier learners.

I have given speeches and had opportunities to be a public speaker for most of my life. When I started public speaking in 5th or 6th grade, I learned that the best trick for breaking the ice was to tell a joke first.

  • If you can tell a joke, and tell it well, you can speak to anyone.
  • If you can identify where to add inflection or pauses, you can communicate a message.
  • If you can identify where to add inflection or pauses, AND make your audience laugh when you want them to, you can communicate anything.

Continue reading “Don’t Knock Jokes – Funny Friday”

What’s That in Your Persimmon?

Persimmons (2)

Wives’ tales are one of my favorite meteorological practices. I love the idea of watching for woolly worms’ colors and seeing how much rain falls in the first seven days of a year to predict the potential forecasts for the upcoming seasons. Persimmons also hold a tell tale story in their seeds.

Each fall my kids and I trek across our farm to the various persimmon trees that line our pastures. By this time of October they don’t have many leaves left and their peachy-colored fruits are the only sign of life on the trees. Taking turns, I lift my kiddos up to pick a few fruits from each tree. When we have had our fill of persimmon picking, we rush back to the house to split open their seeds.

Last fall’s findings were a little unclear. The shapes in the centers of the seeds weren’t very distinct. We found some knives with a few forkly shapes. As last winter was a mild one, with a few icy patches, those indecisive centers were a pretty accurate reflection of what the weather was to bring.

Persimmons (1)There were no ambiguous shapes this year. This season we found spoons in the center of every seed.

So what do the clear cut spoons mean for this year? Well, according the wives’ tale, we will be digging ourselves out of snow this winter. This prediction thrilled my children.

While the idea of piles of snow may not please you, I hope you will take time to enjoy activities like persimmon picking with your family. It is a great way to get outside, make memories, and use imagination. Put some energy this week into enjoying time together and maybe telling some wives’ tales of your own.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I am not a licensed meteorologist, so if you do not like this forecast, blame it on the persimmons.

The Power of “Yet”

The Power of Yet

Do you know the power of “Yet”?

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is a book by Joshua Hammer. I learned about The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu on Goodreads and I want desperately to read it. However, after laboring through the first few chapters, I realized that I do not possess enough knowledge about Timbuktu, Mali, or the plight of the Islamic peoples as they have been tortured by Al Qaeda. The words of Adbel Kader Haidara, the original Bad-Ass, were beautiful, terrifying at times, and wonderfully descriptive, but my ignorance of how to pronounce and process many of the words left me feeling lost. After page 70, I put the book back on my “To Read” list. I just wasn’t smart enough for this book.

When I told my husband about being confounded by the book, he told me that I would get it; I just might have to read it a few times. He was hinting at the “Yet.”

The Power of Yet 3.jpgA few days after re-shelving The Bad-Ass Librarians, I was speaking to my friend Donna. We were discussing The End of Your Life Book Club and the reads that were recommended in it. It was fun to compare what she had read to what I had read and what we both still wanted to read. It was then that I told her about Hammer’s book. I shared my disappointment in myself for not being educated enough to read the book. That is when Donna reminded me of the power of “Yet.” Continue reading “The Power of “Yet””

Thoughts on Fear – Thoughtful Thursday

Thoughts on Fear

I am always impressed by the way some individuals are able to encapsulate the emotions that are shared by literally millions. The sadness that has invaded our lives and hearts in recent weeks has largely been caused by fear.

The following are posts or lyrics of others that I have found quite profound. Hopefully their words will eliminate any insecurities that you may have about isolation and separation because of the fear that has invaded your thoughts and emotions.

Kelly Sanders Smith, a friend and fellow teacher, shared this thought on Facebook and opened my eyes to a sad reality about what the generations after mine sadly consider as common place.

Fear Post 1


Cami Walker, my friend and author of 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life, recently shared this post on www.29gifts.org. I love how she is taking tragedy and turning into a positive challenge of love.  Continue reading “Thoughts on Fear – Thoughtful Thursday”

Don’t Let Them Witness Failure

Dont Let Them Witness Failure

Tripping over your own feet. Accidentally shooting yourself with water at a water fountain. Noticing your zipper is unzipped or a shirt button is in the wrong hole. Forgetting someone’s names as you greet them.

These are small but impactful mistakes. It isn’t really the mistake that makes the failure; it’s our attitude. Our “Oops” are only failures, if we allow others to witness us wallowing in our faux pas.

When we make mistakes, we provide ourselves with jumping off points for humor, improvement, and growth.

While we may never stop tripping over our own feet and we can NEVER control the pressure of some water fountains, we can control how we prevent failure from being part of our self-perception.

When we do something right, we LOVE witnesses of our greatness. When we make a mistake, witnesses are worse than the error itself. The truth of the matter is witnessing success is not nearly as powerful as witnessing the triumph of overcoming a potentially fantastic failure.

My children witness me making some pretty terrible mistakes. These massive mistakes allow me the opportunity to show what it looks like to make an “Oops” into an “Oh yeah!” It’s totally okay is they see me fail at an attempt, it’s not okay to let them see me defeated. (I am not saying it’s not okay to suffer a defeat now and then, we just can’t remain defeated.) Every time I wipe out, it is important for them to see me get wipe myself off and try again (sometimes the mistake warrants trying something new all together). Allowing others to see us move on makes that mistake a victory.

If you find yourself in an “Oops” situation, acknowledge the “Oops” and give any witnesses the opportunity to say “Oh yeah!” as you find a successful way on to the next attempt or adventure. Don’t let them witness failure. Give them a front row ticket to the fabulous fortune in your endeavors.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I tell myself that I make a lot of mistakes so that I can make a lot of successes. You tell yourself whatever it takes to make your failures into victories. 😉

 

 

Take Note

Take Note

Professional development is a topic that makes most people groan in despair. I really have no problem with professional development. In fact, I have served on many professional development teams in the past. As a fairly new employee to State Technical College of Missouri, I have the benefit of taking part in the professional development programs offered, including the “new” teacher services. While I am not a “new” teacher in the sense of experience, I was definitely “new” to the collegiate teaching scene.

Upon completion of my first year at State Tech, I received an invite to meet with Angie, the Professional Development Coordinator. Her invite stated that she just wanted to visit with me about the successes and any concerns from my first year to form an instructional mentoring partnership. (Sounded fun and fancy to me and Angie said she was willing to have donuts at the meeting.)

When we met, Angie and I discussed what we believed to be successful about my first year and I shared my concerns (which wasn’t much). She listened, shared stories about her own experiences as an adjunct professor, and discussed ideas for addressing my concerns. (She even remembered the donuts!) To conclude our meeting, Angie thanked me for my time and presented me with a brand, new composition book to use as a journal of my teaching. She did not realize just how special that notebook was.

Take Note 2I have always had an obsession with notebooks and journals. Writing is one of my favorite outlets and I have a little bit of a list-making obsession. For the last few years, I have re-purposed the notebooks left behind by my students as they move onto the next year’s courses. I don’t mind recycling, plus some of those kids drew really great sketches for me to enjoy every time I use their discarded notebooks. When I was in grade school, my favorite notebooks were made from recycled paper. I loved the tint of the gray pages and the softness of writing on the thicker sheets. When my friend Erica gave me a journal for my birthday a few years ago, I was so excited. A new notebook just for me! I used that journal to begin the writing for my blog.

When Angie presented me with this new notebook, my joy was instantaneous and I thanked her with a huge hug. Who knows what great things I can do with those fresh, lined pages! Continue reading “Take Note”