"Kindness is the greatest floss..." from The Razor's Edge

When I was in college working at Muir's Drug Store on Michigan Avenue, I remember reading an article about a "rudeness syndrome" that was sweeping the country. Part of the problem, the author felt, was the younger generation's lack of concern for humanity and continual focus on self. I could not stop laughing when I read it! Interestingly though, as I shared the article with friends, family, and co-workers, they agreed with the author! That was in the seventies, and I am happy to report that forty some years later, a New York Times writer, Nicholas Kristof, believes that people are getting nicer. Well, it's about time, don't you think!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Crafty Are We?

Pop bottle dolls, angels, santas, and witches. Marker pots, wreaths, photo albums. When my kids were young, I loved to dabble in crafts. These pictures show a witch and some angels made from soda or pop bottles. I added some sand in the bottom of each bottle, placed a dowel into the sand that protruded upward out of the mouth of the bottle enough to add a styrofoam ball and voila! there was the skeleton to dress up in some holiday manner or fashion. My friends Mary L. and Kathy and I would sell our crafts here and there for a little extra "fun money." We usually used much of the money to buy more raffia paper, styrofoam, and supplies to continue crafting! It was something we did while our kids were in Mothers' Day Out. When the kids saw what we were doing, we could easily ask for their assistance cutting paper or gathering sticks.

On the Positive...

I just ran across this blog by Marc and Angel whose list of blog entries sound like worthwhile reading. Here are the first three tips with links to the other nine!

AUGUST 30TH, 2011 @ 12:00 AM BY: MARC

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

by Jacob Sokol of Sensophy

“I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed. I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live - that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.”
-Dan Millman

Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives. (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)

I want to honor and discuss each of these 12 points, because no matter what part of life’s path we’re currently traveling on, these ‘happiness habits’ will always be applicable.

  1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
  2. Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an older version of yourself.
For the other suggestions, click here.

Best blogs on relaxation: Click here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Political Pitter Patter...

About the OCCUPY Movement..

This webcast by English Al-Jazeera is very interesting. I had not considered that the Occupy protesters might be protesting something that could be summed up as systemic violence. This kind of violence hurts many people, but is much more invisible and varied in its forms. Check it out here.
Then there is the story of Ray Kachel that is so moving and relevant in understanding the Occupiers. Take a look at this New Yorker article on Ray.

Then there is talk about transformational schools. Check it out here.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I miss my crazy brother Steve. Steve passed away in his sleep over twenty years ago, but our family still thinks of him all the time and about the funny antics he used to get involved in. Here, he is pictured with his roommate
and good friend Pete. In his sagging pocket is a pack of Marlboros, and behind him, his custom van sports a mystical painting with a dragon on it and it seems to me a skull appeared somewhere on it as well. The two of them had just arrived in Austin for a visit when I snapped this shot.
During the visit we took them to the Capitol,
Barton Springs, County Line, and other local hot spots. I wrote a story about Steve entitled "Shoes" that you can read by clicking here.

Millie Tales

Mildred Malone, or Millie for short, is a timeless character known for spending time in San Antonio, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and various places around the globe. Her life is a mixture of adventure, romance, and mystery. You won't want to
miss following her life story by clicking here! Co-authors A and E are collaborating with me to bring you the best, most true to life depiction of this beloved lady, now in her seventies. Based upon interviews, historical depositions, and ship records, an amazing story of courage and perseverance is emerging. This collection of Millie Tales is a work in progress, so if you know Millie or know of additional information that can be verified for inclusion, please contact me or one of the co-authors!

Living the Vida Verde

We are scaling down, at least I think we are. I am thinning down the clothing choices, taking books to Half Price Books, and generally trying to

de-clutter the house. It's hard though, for someone who clings to things sentimentally and categorizes things as useful season by season. A spare environment used to signal sadness in my brain--going without--because I've accumulated things, LOTS of things to keep around me at all times. I now want to keep things simple and easy to organize.

This,however, is not an easy task. One day I bag and label donations; the next day, I am pulling things out and finding a reason or person to keep it for! My goal is to have pared things down as much as possible by the end of December....Will I be able to make this deadline? I'll keep you posted...

gazelle.com is a site I learned about in a magazine where you can recycle old electronics. First, you find the item you want to sell according to a listing on their site. Type in a description of the condition of your old cellphone, broken digital camera, or whatever, and they will send you free packaging and labels for shipping. They are not interested in old printers, however.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Readerz Edge

Recently I have been reading and reviewing books like crazy! I love having the time to do this and have joined Story Circle Journal as a guest reviewer. My first review, on Leila Levinson's book entitled Gated Grief, appeared on Story Circle recently. You can read my review here. I have several other short reviews (some rather hastily written) on Good Reads of recent reads. With the exception of one, I feel like I have chosen fantastic books lately. I am only listing books recently read, because if I went back and added everything, I would simply die of exhaustion....
Currently reading: Paula by Isabel Allende.

Just finished: Someone to Talk To: Finding Peace, Purpose, and Joy after Tragedy and Loss by Samantha M. White. Review here. My photo has been posted as a reviewer here!

Butterfly Tears is a collection of personal stories by young women whose lives have been transformed by the amazing power of community impact. Pathways to Improvement, a foundation created by Dave Bishop, operates out of California through the generous donations of professionals and benevolent donors. I found the book to be quite compelling for anyone interested in programs that can impact those affected by drug and/or alcohol abuse. Available on Kindle, I highly recommend it for anyone looking to support/organize a good thing!

The Life and Letters of Kate Gleason is a fascinating biography of a female entrepreneur in a world of men during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Criticized by some, including her brothers with whom she ran Gleason Iron Works, Kate was admired by many more as she took her engineering know-how, industrious nature, and savvy business style to various communities. If you want to learn about a woman who designed, built, and sold products around the world, you simply must read about Kate Gleason.

Holding Our World Together :  Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community by Brenda J. Child is the latest volume of the Penguin Library of American Indian History.  In this historical look at the influence of Ojibwe women who settled the Great Lakes region with their clans, Ms. Child contributes not only an important link for women's studies, but a critical chapter in American Indian history. Having grown up in Michigan, I was fascinated to read about wild rice gathering and the tribal benefit of accepting the European fur traders by the Ojibwes.  For those who love reading about the trials and tribulations of our earliest Americans, this book provides and essential chapter of that history!

Favorite Sites for Educators

I can hardly keep up with all the fabulous sites appearing dedicated to education, educators, and curriculum. Some of my favorites, though, I bookmark because I just know that I will want to surf through their things when I get a chance. Most of what I include here are targeted for secondary educators--those working with students ages 11-18.

1. To start, I love the Livebinders site where binders are available for viewing and sharing. In addition to checking out others', you can create your own and either share or keep it for your use only. This site promises to save a LOT of people a LOT of time. Even with things like documents needed for gifted and talented identification and assessment, or your whole favorite unit's handouts, this site promises great dividends for those who can organize in order to ultimately save time. See the links to various topics on the Livebinder site for subject specific topics. Click on "featured binders" to see some excellent and sometimes HUGE binders with links at every page. Featured binders usually took a great deal of time and effort to create and the author(s) don't mind saving YOU time. Admin may want to examine Dean Mantz's binders on professional development.

2. Another helpful site for teachers as well as students is DROPBOX. This is a web area where a creator/writer can place things that will be retrievable from any computer in another location. Teaching teams can set up annual documents and reference them from home, from a professional development session, or from a remote computer in another building.

3. For curriculum ideas, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Ryan Gobles site entitled Making Curriculum Pop, or MC Pop. Each person will need to create a log in, but the materials and forum that awaits is unbelievable! Several sub-groups exist and dialogue is constantly emerging of interest to teachers. Ryan himself stirs up new articles and topics for members from time to time. If you teach, you simply MUST be a part of MC Pop!

4. The University of Texas maintains some open web sites (OWS). UT students have an easier time accessing these, however, by going to the university's site and scrolling all the way to the bottom, one can enter without a log in. These activities are mostly created by aspiring teachers, but some are very creative and make use of images for questioning as part of the assignment.

5. Prezi is similar to a PowerPoint, but more interactive. There are a number of Prezis already made as learning tools, OR anyone can create another one for a class project. Even book reviews could be created using this tool. Check here to learn more or to try one out.

6. The Association for School Curriculum and Development (ASCD) is full of good stuff to read with a group of people. A current article has to do with keeping staff development as a habit rather than a chore. Read that one here.

7. For sweet, short broadcasts on a variety of topics, check this out the teaching channel.

8. The hottest guy on Youtube is posting videos of math and science concepts! His name is
Salman Khan and you can find out more about him and see a sample of his work here. Great news for parents, homeschoolers, and students who want to really understand how some of these concepts work....

9. Gates Foundation work on the common core literacy standards is zooming ahead so that teachers will be prepared for 2014 student tests. Sign up and poke around at www.mygroupgenius.org .

10. Graduate fellowship applications are available from Phi Delta Kappa with a deadline of June first. Go to www.pdkintl.org/awards/graduate.htm.

11. When it comes to DISCIPLINE and the unbelievable effects of compassion on kids in schools, you need to sit back and read this article from top to bottom:  Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 8

12. This is a new, attractive, funky site for ELL and ESOL ideas that I found recently. There are almost too many links!  Warning: You could get lost for days...