A few end of School-Year Favs

end_of_school_year_bag_tag_template_04

With May coming to an end and summer shouting a big HELLO :), I thought I’d share a few of my favs from commencement, award ceremonies (I’m not kidding) and EOY carpool contemplation.

Sherly Sandberg’s Cal Berkeley Address:

Today I will try to tell you what I learned in death.

Ms. Sandberg shared for the first time in public what she has learned from the death of her husband last year. She encouraged the young grads that one can thrive in success and in adversity. She included research from psychologist Marty Seligman (from whom we’ve learned a little bit about tackling entitlement via his research on learned helplessness vs. earned success.) “Martin Seligman found that there are three P’s—personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence—that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship. The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.”

    • The first P is personalization—the belief that we are at fault.

This is different from taking responsibility, which you should always do. This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.

    • The second P is pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of your life.

You know that song “Everything is awesome?” This is the flip: “Everything is awful.” There’s no place to run or hide from the all-consuming sadness.

…I remember sitting in my first Facebook meeting in a deep, deep haze. All I could think was, “What is everyone talking about and how could this possibly matter?” But then I got drawn into the discussion and for a second—a brief split second—I forgot about death.

That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving and they carried us—quite literally at times.

  • The third P is permanence—the belief that the sorrow will last forever.

We often project our current feelings out indefinitely—and experience what I think of as the second derivative of those feelings. We feel anxious—and then we feel anxious that we’re anxious.  We feel sad—and then we feel sad that we’re sad.  Instead, we should accept our feelings—but recognize that they will not last forever.

I’m not sure why her speech hit home around here – maybe because several people/families we ADORE have been hit hard with adversity (death, terminal illness, financial hardship, wayward kids, …) – but it’s a good word, regardless. Worth the read or watch (link is above.)

Then LOVED this from Bryan Dunagan, pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church who gave the commencement at one of the kids’ schools?  He shared lots of terrific advice, but this one I found particularly sticky:

Hurry is the great enemy of our day. The Lord never gives us more than we can do. If you have too much on your plate, God did not put it there.

Yeah, that.

He also shared this quote: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

And a few words on one of my favorite topics – comparison – from Middle School Head, Jeff Hendricks who had this to say about awards.

Let me offer a couple words to you. If your response is cynical or critical because your name isn’t called, think about this: Steph Curry was recently unanimously voted the MVP of the National Basketball Association. Was this a negative statement about all of the other players in the NBA? Not at all. … And by giving him the award the voters are in no way suggesting that Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, or Kevin Durant are bad basketball players and not doing a good job. They are simply saying that in this year, under these particular circumstances, this player stood out to these people who voted.

… In the same way, the awards today are not negative statements about any student; they are simply acknowledgements of notable achievement and effort under these particular circumstances of this year. Today if you come in cynical or critical, I want to encourage you to check your spirit. It may be an opportunity to grow graciousness and joy in your own heart. And think about the ways that you have grown – not how you compare or don’t measure up.

And for those of you whose names are called, if you came in placing too much weight on the awards, remember this: All of our gifts come from God, and today we recognize students in whom certain gifts have stood out this year as they have faithfully developed them. Our focus is about God’s work in you and how we have seen it manifested. The awards are positive statements about your work and character – enjoy them and receive them graciously. But remember that they are not the sum total of your identity.

And finally, from a shotgun rider who survived the year: “It’s so nice to only have to be you” – meaning that there’s freedom in being exactly who the Lord created her to be.

More to come on YOU-nique gifting and purpose soon.

Thanks for walking the road with me. I’d love to hear you found especially inspiring or convicting during your round of EOY ceremonies.

-Kay

HuffPost :) What to do when what’s heard doesn’t match what’s said

Tin can phone

Leaving a graduation ceremony and subsequent reception last night, I glanced at the clock, “Wow, that lasted a long time.”

“I’m sorry,” said my daughter riding shotgun.

“Why are you sorry?” I nonchalantly asked.

Then quickly realizing that I was entering the strange teen-zone where an unassuming question can instantly transform a regular moment into an emotionally-charged field of landmines. “WAIT,” I divert and quickly add before she can answer my why question, “what did you think I said.”

“Well, you said that I talked too long.”

“What?”

“Yeah, that I’m the reason it ran late.”

Huh? “I was only commenting on how long it lasted. I wasn’t saying anything about you.”

“Well, that’s what I heard.”

Welcome to a common field of landmines — the space between what is said and what is heard. It’s been around for ages and is especially dicey during times of stress, certain monthly-occurrences, after a long day and pretty much during all teenage-years and any other times affected by changes-in-life.

How can we navigate these dangerous fields and come out on the other side intact, whole, emotionally stable human beings? Who knows?! Most days are simply about survival.

But in an effort to flourish, here are a few ideas to help communication.

Be aware. There’s a good chance more is being heard than said. Especially on certain days and in certain scenarios that can impact hearing. For example,…

… and for the rest of the story, I hate to do it, but would LOVE for you to click here at Huffington Post. They’re super nice to include me in the blog line-up and (soooooper excited!!! – just sayin) – THEN, if you’re really feeling kindly in the midst of your May Crazies, a little social media (FB, Pinterest, Twitter, …) love on the HuffPost sight goes a long way.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 6.27.56 PM

XOXO!!!

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

Hello … It’s me and it’s May

Hi. My name is Kay. I have definitely been MIA. (And apparently, I”m a poet – this is where I need a laughing-crying emoji. Seriously, I think I could communicate 100% emoji, kind of like hieroglyphics- or not. But that’s another story for another day.)

Anywhooo – I just haven’t been moved to write much. Probably because I’ve had so much on my mind. And especially of late because life has been bombarded by some hard stuff in our neck of the woods. My dear friends traveling the cancer road were both hit hard (one even had a heart attack in the midst of everything else!), my sweet and wonderful uncle passed away followed by an unexpected/untimely death of my dear friend’s husband.

Moments like these put life into perspective.

Then, in the strangest turn of events, I had put together a 2nd Annual May-Madness bracket which I was perched to share here – when I thought to myself, I wonder if maybe Huffington Post or USA Today would think May-Madness fun. I’ve sent stuff to outlets before and mostly hear crickets rather than replies. But on this occasion, I heard back and was even invited to be on the blogging team for HuffPost. My super-excitement was drown out a bit by the sadness and heaviness of events – even though I know, along with all involved, God is good – in control – Lord over all – Healer of hurting hearts – the list goes on (thankfully).

Before posting here (I’ve been meaning to for a week), I shared the link to the HuffPost article on Facebook with this:

Our community’s May got a a sobering shock this last week as one of the best – Hunter Wood – went home to be with the Lord. People are what mattered/matter to Hunter and to his sweet wife, my dear friend Mary Clayton. So you might know a little about Hunter’s impact, this morning my daughter said about the celebration of his life well-lived: “After Mr. Wood’s funeral, I just want to live my life for God and to love others – instead of living in the moment and wanting others to love you.”

Hunter’s untimely death puts into perspective the inconsequential nature of many things that steal our attention in life’s hyper-busy times like May. Even though real life and all its tasks exist/require attention/& tempt to take over – let’s never lose sight of the people walking alongside.

Here’s the post. Of course feel free to share, to comment on the HuffPost sight, to “like” (or not like) it – whatever – BUT most importantly – try to make the most of these crazy, end-of-the-year, race-to-the-end, days without losing sight of the people traveling next to you. People matter most.

Dialing Down May Madness, HuffPost

So here you go. You saw it last year, and might see it again next year –

Mad-Madness Bracket 2016

And the link to the play-by-play and meaningful part.

Thanks for walking the road with me. To be cont….

-Kay

Time-Change and the Power of Perspective

trees

Why is the Spring Forward time-change so hard? It was like waking the dead this morning. And it’s only an hour difference.

I think perspective could go a long way to help my sleepy-heads (and me!)

Really. Because truth be told, if we lost an hour and due to a nice trip to the mountains – we wouldn’t feel it much. It would be the best lost-hour ever – a vehicle sending us to slush down the snowy slopes instead of a tool of torture dragging us in a catatonic state to the car; gleeful giggling instead of moaning, struggling, complaining: “The sun isn’t even up!!” (The sun had risen – but clearly not when they woke up.)

Enter Stage Left: Sunshine Mom

“Quit complaining. Look a the bright side! And rather than let the lost hour put you in a sleep-deprived funk, force your thoughts to see the good. [sidenote: I’m not quite sure what the good is in the case of springing forward, but there’s got to be one, or two, or one.] Why waste the precious time you have – lose another hour – by letting it steal your joy from this moment.”

Birds were singing and playfully circling around our car as if a Disney Princess was on board. Actually, it looked more like a load of eye rolls. I don’t blame them, but I try. And I mean it – perspective can help with so many things.

  • Rather than focus on gathering friends, be a friend.
  • Instead of seeing a mountain as an obstacle, consider the opportunity.
  • If school/a subject/a sport is super hard at the moment, see it as growth rather than an indictment.

As folders were gathered this morning and dust shaken from backpacks after a week break, I remembered such a redirect to one of the kids who has been put off, not sure how to handle, some homework corrections in need of attention.

“Sweetheart – what’s up with the stack of un-corrected corrections?” I had to ask. But I didn’t want to ask. The avoidance is looking more purposeful than regular forgetfulness.

“I hate school,” he replied.

Okay – he really doesn’t hate school. He actually enjoys it and loves learning. Not all of our kids love to learn, but this one is a curious soul – intrigued the way things work, interested in history, almost always asking questions that dive deeper than surface. On top of all that he ADORES his teacher – wonderful is an understatement.

“Honey – hate it strong word – and I’m pretty sure you don’t.”

“I do,” he insisted.

Clearly stuck in traffic on that road, I look for a way to inch forward on another. “What’s up with your homework? It’s like you’d rather not do it than make a mistake.”

Silence.

“Are you afraid of messing up?”

Silence. Big eyes begin to moisten and fill with tears.

I love that boy’s eyes. They tell it all: he is afraid. Which likely has lots more attached to it than simply answering a homework question wrong.

It can be a challenge living in a world obsessed with perfection.

Even if we don’t realize it we swim in perfection waters every day. Photoshop’d pics, heralded successes, excessive trophying – they all add to perfection pressures that can make learning a challenge. Mostly because learning, of all things, is an road inevitably and wonderfully paved by mistakes.

So how can we promote learning in an environment obsessed with perfection? I’m not sure, but on thing we’ve discovered along our way OFF the perfection road is to talk it out.

“Honey – learning is filled with lots of missed questions. In fact it’s hard to learn without messing up.

Teachers know that mistakes come with their territory. They even welcome them. Mistakes help your teacher know what you have and haven’t understood. They help her to be a better teacher and you to be a better student. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.”

It’s true. I think we forget the roads of major success stories that are literally peppered with mistakes and failures.

He’s listening, so I keep going, “The fact your teacher wants you to correct your work is only because she cares about you. She wants you to learn. She doesn’t want you to look the other way, pretend you know something when you don’t (no one knows everything, no one!) or worst of all – quit. The truth is – it would be a lot easier for her to mark it wrong and move on. But she cares for you more than that.”

Then I come to the end of my little life lecture, hoping that I hear what I’m telling him since I’m faced with challenges/making mistakes every day, “Please see those corrections for what they are – a statement that your teacher is for you and wants you to be all that you can be. See those corrections like a little note of encouragement – not a sign of disappointment or statement that you less-than others. No – they’re a sign that you’re worth the effort.”

Perspective. It almost instantly helped him. Sometimes a little dose of reality (a view of the way things are rather than the way we perceive them to be) can go a long way.

How can it inform your day today?

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

If you’re in Dallas and want some fuel in your don’t-fear-failure tank, come hear Jess Lahey this Wednesday. Here are the deets:

  • Speaker: Jessica Lahey, NYT Best Selling Author of The Gift of Failure
  • When: 3/16/2016, 7:00 PM 8:00 PM
  • Where: Highland Park Methodist Church – Wesley Hall