Archive for the ‘BrainGym’ Category

Books that Changed My Life — BrainGym and Bal-A-Vis-X

Disclaimer: Clicking some of these links will take you to Amazon. If you buy something through the link, I get a small kickback. However, I’m not exaggerating on the “changed my life” part. Just sayin’…..

My life has most certainly been quite a journey thus far. There haven’t been many exotic places or encounters with famous people, yet every twist and turn in the road has revealed some very cool mojo for me. Along the way, I have turned to books for answers to many of the questions that present themselves in my life at various points.

I’m not much of a fiction reader. I got way more of that than I needed in high school and college.

Over it. Plain and simple.

Instead, I read for information. I read for lots of information. I know things about bodies and minds and spirit matters that the average smart person doesn’t know and doesn’t know they doesn’t know. (Yes, I made up that horrible sentence on purpose. Deal with it.)

Summer of 2003 found me  given an “opportunity” <cough-choke> to teach little bitty bodies physical education. It also gave me the opportunity to learn about a couple of very cool teaching techniques that use movement to activate/focus the brain and calm the physical and mental stress response so learning can occur. The two programs were called BrainGym® and Bal-A-Vis-X.

My crash course introduction pointed me to a few book that literally changed my life. Those who best know me know this is not even the tiniest of exaggerations. The titles are Bal-A-Vis-X : Rhythmic Balance/Auditory/Vision eXercises for Brain and Brain-Body Integration by Bill Hubert, and two others written by Carla Hannaford, PhD entitled Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head and The Dominance Factor: How Knowing Your Dominant Eye, Ear, Brain, Hand, & Foot Can Improve Your Learning. I am convinced these books should be required reading before any educator on any level is allowed to set foot in the classroom. I am also of the opinion The Dominance Factor should be required pre-marital and parenting reading.

These books began my quest to learn more about the brain-body connection.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue advanced training in BrainGym® and Bal-A-Vis-X on someone else’s dime. Both programs are specifically geared toward helping ease the learning process for children, in part by integrating the two hemispheres of the brain through movement. People who tend to be very left-brained get stuck in the details and can’t always see much of the big picture. People who tend to be right-brained sometimes get stuck with the big picture and can’t drill down to the important and necessary details.

Our brain was designed to be used as a whole, not a single dominant half. We are much smarter, nicer, more organized, and more creative people when we have access to our entire brain. For me, the experience of taking the workshops and practicing the exercises with my students had a significant brain-integrating effect. I began for the first time in my life to get glimpses of the big picture in several areas of my personal world.

**The new information and experience changed my perspective on teaching and learning.

**It changed my perspective on parenting, probably saving one of my children from my own ignorance and opening valuable doors of opportunity for her.

**It changed my personality from one of judgmental and absolute to one of greater gentleness and possibility.

**It allowed my spiritual perspectives to shift in ways that are still sorting themselves out. Some question whether this is a good thing. I think it has been a wonderful thing.

I owe a debt of gratitude to those who brought the information contained in these books to light, and to those who helped me acquire the information on a personal and professional level. I now teach these concepts and have integrated them with other learning which continues to evolve me personally.

I would love to share with you some of the amazing possibilities that await a person who has full access to all the potential of their brain. Check out these titles. Who knows? Maybe you’ll experience a life-enhancing shift, too.

Brains and Golf and Cops–Incredible Opportunities

In making the decision to move away from the (in)security of employment and a set paycheck, I asked myself exactly what I think I can do to earn a living and continue to pay for the things I desire (or desired and acquired without payment in advance. That would be known as debt, and it is another of my elephants, but I digress.).

I came to the conclusion that I have many talents and many services to offer. The key will be aligning my talents, passions, and services with the appropriate clientèle.  Lots of people have an interest in what I do, yet not all of them see my services as worthy of plopping down their hard-earned cash in order to experience the benefits.

The way I see it, I have a couple of options: 1) Convince them that what I offer is worth their investment of money, or 2) Attract clients who already know the value of what I do. I’m guessing their will be a little bit of both, but I think my time will be better spent if more energy goes toward the second option.

I currently have a wonderfully supportive massage clientèle, which has grown in large part because of a few amazing people who are telling others about me. Word of mouth and testimony are such sweet and delicious advertising. Thanks to some talented local pioneers in the field of massage, lots of people in this area are already convinced of the value of that service. I owe a lot to the ladies who blazed that trail for me.

Some of my other services, however, are a bit more obscure and unfamiliar. Therefore I will be the one to blaze the trail in those areas.

So, this morning, I am doing a bit of trailblazing.

June 28th-30th, I will be teaching a three-day workshop call BrainGym® 101. It is the introductory class in a series, which lead to licensure as a Brain Gym® instructor/practitioner. It is also the foundation course that provides participants with a solid base of knowledge about this easy program of movements that can do so much to improve learning and physical performance tasks, enhance communication and writing skills, improve mental clarity, reduce test anxiety, increase environmental awareness.

BrainGym® is valuable to a wide range of occupations and life circumstances. Education, is of course a given, and many of my previous clients have been teachers. However, it is also a valuable tool for athletes, peace officers and emergency personnel, hobbiests such as golfers seeking to improve their game, parents, care-givers, and anyone else who deals with challenging situations.

BrainGym® works by using a series of 26 movements that vary from lengthening activities to mid-line crossing to energy activating actions. These 26 movements work to calm the body’s stress response, which in turn allows the use of higher brain function.

Rational thought hangs out in the neo-cortex of the brain. That’s the big part that covers everything and takes up the most space between your ears. Stress, which can be triggered by anything from new learning to a family crisis to starting a diet, tends to put us into the control of the mid-brain and more of a survival way of thinking. When that happens, we are inclined react without thinking and new learning or performance becomes almost impossible.

So how does that relate to my golf game? Ever have a bad day on the course? The weather is beautiful, but from the first putt you know you are destined to set the record for highest golf score ever? With each subsequent putt, you stress more and more…..and things get worse and worse. With BrainGym® in your bag of tools, you can stop, perform a few of the activities (which by the way require NO equipment) and watch your game switch on like a light. It is total coolness.

Or let’s say you have aging parents and you are concerned about their long term mental clarity (or maybe your own). BrainGym® uses the ages old (appropriate for this illustration, doncha think?) concept of movement to keep brain function more active. If you’d like to understand the physiology behind how this works, kick back and trudge through a book by Carla Hannaford call Smart Moves: Why Learning Isn’t All In Your Head. It’s a bit heavy for me tastes until about Chapter 5. Then it’s just fascinating.

Law enforcement and emergency services are other fields that stand to experience tremendous benefits from my cool mojo called BrainGym®. Qualifying on the range, stress management, mental clarity….all are huge reasons to check into this thing called BrainGym®.

If I still haven’t gotten your attention, ask a question in the comments section and I’ll gladly provide more information. It’s really cool stuff, and very much worth the money. For that matter, if you do choose to invest in the three day workshop, fully participate (it is, after all, a participation workshop), and come away feeling your time has been wasted, I will give you your money back and you can keep the course materials. The only thing you are risking is spending three days in the company of some really cool people snacking on chocolate, cheese, and fresh fruit.

Here’s everything you need to know to get registered.

Have a wonderfully nourishing day.

PS: If you are into any kind of performing arts, Brain Gym is a must have for your tool kit. It can really rock your performance world!

Shifting Energy with a Friend

Yesterday I discovered that I am not the only one moving in the direction of living my dream.  On the one hand, a comment like that almost deserves a “duh” response. On the other hand, this is someone that I know, who lives close by, and with whom I occasionally communicate: someone who has chosen to take a huge risk to do something about which he has dreamed for years. Who would guess that we would both be stepping out in faith at the same time?

I was given the opportunity to help him with his dream with a small financial donation, which would also advertise my new business. His job was to put on the sales hat and show me what my options were. This is someone with whom I have had many relaxed interactions. He’s typically a very laid back, easy-going guy in my presence. As he shared the information with me, I realized that he was noticeably uptight and not at all his usually relaxed self.

Finally I asked him, “Are you nervous?” He indicated that in fact he was more than a little bit jittery. I asked if he would be willing to let me show him some things that would help settle the nervous feeling. He agreed.

We started with some basic BrainGym movements. I gave him some water to drink, then I taught him Brain Buttons, Cross Crawls, and Hook Ups. Next I demonstrated muscle checking and had him walk forward. He muscle checked as being “switched off” when walking forward and “on” for walking backwards. That indicates energies running backwards, which isn’t the best thing for someone pursuing a dream like his.

We checked a few other things and did what was necessary to get them to shift. It was fun to watch his body relax, his posture straighten, and his true personality shine through. Even more fun was his ability to perceive what was happening within himself. The thing is, I couldn’t help myself. It’s the passion I feel about this cool stuff I know. I saw the need, he was receptive, and maybe in some small way, I have given him something that will help make his dream easier to attain. At the very least, he’s got a funny story to tell about his visit with the Wellness Lady who wouldn’t let him leave.

Who knows, maybe that experience will be something shared with others when the time is right. Maybe my helping him achieve his dream will somehow end up helping me achieve mine.

It would be just like God to pull a stunt like that.

Vision 2010: Intentions for a New Year

I recently saw a post that suggested the use of intentions for the new year rather than resolutions or goals for the new year. I like that. I tend to believe intentions are a very powerful force. They are not some lofty pie in the sky wish list, but rather something truly…well…intended.

Danielle LaPorte’s blog is one of my favorite motivational resources, so I was intrigued when her intentions list was actually a Stop Doing list. Most of us think about things we should or need to start doing, but how many of us think about the balancing effect of stopping something? And as she pointed out, it isn’t about stopping things like “neglecting yourself” or some other goofy feel good crap. This is serious stuff. Everything needs balance, and if you are adding something to your to do list, you must also remove something from it or feel the wrathful stress of overload.

This got me thinking about my vision for 2010. Just saying the year has such a cool sound to it. I can remember when 2010 was the target date for a 15 year long range technology plan for schools. And now…..it’s here. 2010.

The year that is wrapping up was a pretty good one. I finished massage therapy school, which gives me new options and some movement towards achieving a long held desire to work in the wellness industry. We sent a kid off to face the world on her own. We tackled a renovation project that is my wellness center. I charged up a truckload of money going to some energy medicine workshops in Austin and Phoenix….and I stayed another year in the safety and security of a “guaranteed” paycheck with benefits, even though my passion has long since vacated the premises. That about sums up 2009.

So what exactly is my vision of 2010? Danielle suggested a three-question test that originated with Darwin Smith, CEO of Kimberly-Clark.
1)What are you deeply passionate about?
2)What are you genetically encoded for—what activities do you just feel “made to do”?
3)What makes economic sense—what can you make a living at?

It has taken me 41 years of life to feel as though maybe I have some idea about #1 and #2. I guess a person needs that many life experiences to know what they don’t want so as to figure out what they do want from life. Ironically, I am circling back into the vicinity of my college aspirations. I have done many things since college that were part of my dreams and aspirations. I wanted to be married and have a family. I wanted to have a nice house and nice things. I wanted the mini-van and the suburban to haul my growing family. I wanted sane working hours and a husband whose hours matched mine. I have done and continue to have all of those things with abundant love….well…most days.

I have also done some things that are not quite as fulfilling in order to have that which I really did want. I intended all of these things at a higher level than I intended my post college career aspirations, so I settled on a career that I thought best accommodated what I wanted most. For the most part it has worked well enough. Yet there has been this nagging, a yearning, to navigate back in the direction of my original passions. For the first time, I can see the possibilities of making it happen.

So here goes: In 2010, I will

  1. Build my wellness center business to a level that replaces my current income
  2. Complete the renovations on the wellness center
  3. Carve out space for writing projects
  4. Teach a couple of Brain Gym classes.
  5. Study and become highly proficient at the things in which I have already received training
  6. Spend time daily in some form of exercise, as in take care of ME
  7. Find ways to feed me and my family healthy and delicious foods
  8. Pursue a yoga instructor certification
  9. Pursue a personal trainer certification
  10. Travel some place really cool with my sweet husband
  11. Knock the debt load back by a huge chunk
  12. Knock the “butt/thigh” load back by a huge chunk (see #6 & 7)

In 2010, I will

  1. Stop working 8 hours a day in a windowless concrete cell surrounded by a massive electromagnetic field
  2. Stop sitting on my derriere 8 hours a day.
  3. Stop feeling resentment about events in my past that have proven to be blessings
  4. Stop feeling guilty just because others feel guilty (see #3)
  5. Stop trying to teach people who do not wish to learn
  6. Stop attending over-priced workshops that don’t lead to an accredited certification of some type (unless I really really want the info).
  7. Stop doing my own accounting. I suck at it and I hate it.
  8. Stop trying to market my talents all by myself. See #7. I do and teach what I know. Getting other people to buy in to my gigs are a pain in the tush.
  9. Stop eating crap that tastes good for a second, then leaves me feeling like the stuff that comes out at the end.
  10. Stop piling all of the construction projects on my sweet hubby. I intend to have sufficient profits to hire out the window replacement and maybe even the exterior paint job.
  11. Stop spending all my egg profits on Sonic Happy Hour.

The items on this second list only serve to make me a cranky chunky witchy kind of person. They leave me feeling less than my best and therefore, they must go. I’m thinking 2010 is going to be an amazingly powerful year for this goddess.

How about you? Do you have any STOP signs in your 2010 Vision?

Saying More with Less

Someone else’s blog post got to me. I have been discovered. I have been exposed. I am a….a….word-a-holic. There. It’s out. I have admitted that I have a problem with wordiness. My blog posts are WAY too long for most people to endure. Admitting I have a problem….that’s the first step to recovery, right?
 
If admitting I have a problem is the first step, then somewhere along the way has got to be a “why do I do it?” and a “how do I fix it?” I think I may be well on the road to recovery, because I have answers to both of those.
 
Why do I do it is answered with some of my BrainGym training. Ask a person to tell you about a familiar childhood story such as Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  A logic dominant (usually left-brained) person will launch into the entire retelling of the story. Every last detail is important in responding to the request to “tell about” the story. The listener will be subject to everything from “blonde hair” to “someone’s been sitting in my chair” to “…and they are still in it!”
 
On the other hand, the same request made of a gestalt dominant (usually right-brained) person will yield very different results. The gestalt usually provides a big picture response such as, “There was a girl that broke into these bears’ house, fell asleep and was still there when the bears came home.”
 
Unfortunately for my readers, I don’t typically live in a gestalt world. I like details. They are very important to me, and I want to believe everyone else sees them as being just as important. Apparently that is not the case.
 
How do I fix it? Simple. I set a limit. My goal is to create blog posts of 500 words or less that still have signficant value for my readers. It won’t be hard. Most of my posts have covered way more than one topic. I have a lot to say, yet I will quite simply, simplify. I will use the power of less to say more. Let me know how I am doing in the coming weeks.
 
How about you? How would you tell someone about a favorite childhood story? Details or Short Summary?
 
 

Nature Nurture

One of the cool things I have learned during my BrainGym years has been the power of setting an intention before doing any type of “energy” work. Energy work includes things like massage, BrainGym, yoga, meditation/prayer, etc. During our New Mexico retreat last week, I set an intention to experience clarity regarding my career. It has been over a week since that intention was set, and I am daily seeing ways in which I better understand what is going on, both in my frustrations with the current situation and my desires for change. That clarity is proving invaluable as a tool to keep me from leaping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
 
I recently acquired and worked through a book called Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design by Danielle LaPorte and Carrie McCarthy. My two word style statement I believe is Natural Powerful–80% of me is natural, defined by nature, seeking nature, being in nature, being nurtured by nature. The other 20% that adds spice and gives me an edge is power. Realizing how truly important nature is in defining who I am and how I roll helps me to identify what’s going on when I start to feel like crap or get unbearably cranky (the genuine me would have used four and five letter words there, but the me that knows my mom will read this chose more politically correct terms–use your imagination).
 
What I realize is that I crave nature. Spring minus wind is my favorite time of year.  Seeing new life emerge from what appears to be a lifeless stick and watching it produce life sustaining energy sources is just freakin’ cool. What’s not cool is spending the most gorgeous part of the day in a flourescent lighted windowless concrete prison cell void of plant life with only a sheetrock wall separating me from an electromagnetic nightmare that is our file server room. That “clarity” does so much to help me figure out how to improve my existing situation and avoid creating a similar situation in any new endeavors I attempt. Hence, setting up a massage studio in a building downtown where all I see is brick, mortar and cars and that only between clients, probably isn’t the best option for escaping the dis-ease I feel toward my current situation.
 
And so, I made a trip to Home Depot and bought two pots of giant marigolds to place on my office desk. I like marigolds. They are bold and bright. Not necessarily my favorite flower, but they speak for me in a sort of “in-your-face-whatcha-gonna-do-about-it” sort of way. There is nothing delicate about how marigolds look. They are my 80% natural-20% powerful. I am trusting they will survive the flourescent world for awhile and in the meantime, help adjust my attitude about my work environment. Maybe I’ll go back to HD and see what else I can find. It will take something tough to survive for a few months in this concrete jungle.
 
All of this clarity and realization got me to thinking about everyone else including our kids and their teachers who spend their days in windowless, natureless worlds. Several years ago (about 40 to be exact) some genius decided that students need to be free from the distractions posed by the outside world. They began to design multi-purpose school buildings as fallout shelters putting children in basement classrooms where neither nuclear bombs, tornadoes, nor a dancing butterfly could disrupt the precious learning environment. Nature in the classroom was relegated to the dark-loving cockroach. Then along came the energy efficiency experts, and they took the rest of our older school buildings with their wall of windows and closed those in to save heating and cooling costs. If it’s victims were lucky, they were spared one or two small tinted windows to allow for some outside viewing.
 
Yet our teachers continue to experience more and more burnout each year and our children are dealing with more learning challenges, attention deficit issues, behavioral abnormalities, and other social problems than ever before. No, I am not suggesting that windowless schools are to blame, but I am suggesting that they have done nothing to improve the situation. Even mental institutions have figured out that their clients are much more compliant when surrounded by trees, grass, flowers, and natural sunlight. Heck Wal-Mart has even figured this out. People spend more money in a store that has an earthy, naturally lit feel. They are willing to risk thousands of dollars repairing hail smashed skylights and the related water damage to accomodate this concept. Oh yeah….God got it, too. He placed his precious creations in a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden. Punishment for wrong-doing was denial of access to the lush garden.
 
What would happen if every classroom was naturized with plants, fish tanks, hamsters, etc? Or better yet, what if the kids who faced the most difficult challenges were placed in a learning environment such as a yurt. Okay, I admit it, I have a new fascination with this type of building. It is essentially a round Mongolian teepee of sorts, yet the insides are supported by a trellis/accordian like support system that creates X’s wherever the eye looks. It has a skylight in the top. What if the yurt classrooms were surrounded by trees, flowers, and gardens that produced food the kids could pick and consume fresh from the plant whenever the urge strikes? No soda and candy machines would be found, but instead an apple tree and some grape vines would grow right outside the classroom door and the kids were encouraged to eat from them. It would be a highly integrative learning paradise.
 
How could we change the destiny of a kid by changing his learning environment to one that nurtures learning through nature? How could we retain our best and brightest teachers by taking them out of the concrete prison cell and placing them in a Garden to teach? Would all problems disappear? Not a chance. Would it be a worthwhile experiment? You bet. Would it cost money? Well duh! Doesn’t everything? However, I bet it would cost a lot less than the majority of our interventions that have failed our most needy students. But we don’t have enough water to support a garden, you argue. We live in a desert. We are in the midst of a drought. Some of the most beautiful and nurturing places on earth are deserts. We can maximize what we have, grow, and produce the best. It is called Xerisaping, and where it is done well, it is gorgeous.
 
Is this possible on a large scale? I don’t know. What I do know is that each of us has the opportunity to improve our space and consequently our attitude towards our work even in small ways. If you are a parent, volunteer to “naturize” your child’s classroom. Work with teachers and administrators to see what they would like to do. If you are a teacher, consider how you can use some classroom budget money to bring the outdoors indoors. Don’t buy plastic plants. That’s not nature. We have enough plastic in our lives without faking nature.
 
And for Pete’s sake (and Tony, Laura, and Jeffrey’s sake), take down those annoyingly distracting laminated math charts, parts of speech posters, and other wall crap with which you have such a freakin’ love affair, and bring in a grow light and a banana tree. Take your kids outside to have class EVERY chance you get. Find the protected outdoor areas where the wind isn’t an issue and green up that space. Plant a campus garden–a real one with veggies, and have enough passion for what you do that you’ll spend a few days each week even during the summer taking care of it so next fall’s students can benefit from it. I know you can think of 200 reasons why it won’t work, but doing so only creates negative energy and wastes time. Think of the 20 reasons it just MIGHT work and do something to heal yourself, heal your kids, and in the process heal the earth.

 

If we all do a bit of nurturing nature in our work space, then nature will return the favor by nurturing us in both our work space and our play space. Hmm….who’da thunk my career clarity intention would lead to this. Nice……

Retreated and Renewed

I am BAAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!!! Hello again blogging world.

I am not exactly sure what I expected to get from the spiritual renewal retreat in Jemez Springs. Sometimes I think I expect miracles to happen when what I should expect is a nice easy time of things. Then again, maybe my miracles happen in little ways instead of in big production ways.

Jemez Springs is a neat little town. I had heard about it often from our friends who have a cabin there. HOWEVER, the Canon del Rio was the coolest place I have ever stayed. The arched adobe courtyard entrance greeted us as we drove up. Walking through the front door revealed a huge lodge-type great room with a wall of windows facing the mountain to the west. On the left was a breakfast bar. Moving around the room, I noticed a nice kitchen area, a door marked private which I later found out was an efficiency apartment, and the traditional southwest fireplace.

On the other side of the entrance was the entertainment center complete with a big screen TV and a sofa, chair, and loveseat. The decor around the room was very Southwest Native American. The floor was covered in a stone tile that added to the southwest flair.

Flanking each side of the great room were hallways leading to the bedrooms. Six rooms, three extending from each side of the great room, were each decorated similarly. We were shown to ours with its king-sized bed for Daddy Long Legs. Our room had a sliding glass door leading out to the back courtyard, which was beautifully adorned with pole benches, small trees, and a gorgeous fishpond/fountain. Another archway led visitors beyond the B&B grounds down toward the Jemez River.

Even with the remants of winter still holding natures beauty at bay, we were overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the things our eyes had seen. Trees and mountains have a way of providing a sense of seclusion, even when one is not alone. I think seclusion was my miracle for the weekend.

If you ever get a chance to visit Canon del Rio in Jemez Springs, NM, I feel quite confident that you will find it every bit as charming as I did. When you go, be sure to tell Dagna (pronounced like lasagna) that I sent you. She is an incredible breakfast cook. You won’t be disappointed.

As for the various energy modalities used during the retreat activities, I found that I was familiar with most of them from my various BrainGym experiences and my limited yoga and Touch for Health experiences. They were good for me and for my hunky baby because it reminded our bodies of ways we can move with a little bit of warm up and preparation. We haven’t lost that flexibility yet, but we sure need to get with the program and keep moving. And yes, he survived a room full of women being sorely outnumbered about 14 women to two men.

We set an intention for the retreat. Mine was something about having clarity and confidence in my career options. That became the focus of the various meditative moments I had. I suppose I have come away from the retreat with some clarity in that area. I think I am still processing a bit, which we were told would likely take a few days longer to fully do it’s thing.

One thing is fairly solid at this point. I have realized my strong desire to reconnect with nature. While I love promoting health and wellness, I also realize I probably won’t be happy if I go from teaching and working with technology in a windowless concrete room to teaching and working with health and wellness in a windowless concrete room. I need sunshine, raindrops, singing birds, pecking chickens, green plants, and some slimy earthworms throughout my day no matter what I do. That’s an important piece of career information. If I choose to pursue massage as a full time career, I will have to figure out how to do it in a way that allows me to gaze out on nature. It’s not going to work for me to be shut up in a windowless private massage room for hours on end. I guess you would call that some serious clarity, therefore this was a successful retreat for that reason alone.

Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the two amazing people who were our tireless hosts. Debi and Randy are absolutely some of the most gracious people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. They shared their evenings in Jemez Springs with us, then allowed us to extend our stay another night in their beautiful suburban hacienda. While there is much to appreciate about these two people, I think what I like most is the fact that they are truly genuine.

Randy is a man’s man. He’s a Vietnam vet chopper pilot who loves hunting, fishing, and his dog. He is not afraid to tell you what he thinks, even if it is a bit on the politically incorrect side. He is real, and that’s a great thing to be.

Debi is his counterbalance. She is soft and compassionate to everyone, and would give them her last spinach salad (which I could eat for every meal). Even so, she has a line and stands her ground when necessary. She is a woman worthy of respect, and a beautiful woman at that.

Yes, it was a great escape…my man, God’s awesomeness, powerful intention, incredible food, loving people, and none of my own children. :-)  When can we go back?

 

 

 

Renewal

I am so grateful to be spending this weekend in beautiful Jemez Springs, New Mexico, at a spiritual renewal retreat. My very good and enlightened friend Debi is hosting the event which combines yoga, Native American Medicine Wheel, sound vibration, healing breath, accupressure, Aryuvedic massage, meridian massage, movement, stillness, plus BrainGym in an incredible setting. While I am familiar with many of these, I have yet to experience most of them. I am very excited about having the opportunity to get them in my body.

Debi’s flyer lists a ton of benefits to be gained by practicing these Multi-Sensory art forms. They include:

  • enhance body functions
  • increase energy
  • alleviate mental fatigue
  • create efficient electrical and chemical action between the brain and nervous system
  • reduce emotional flare ups
  • diffuse stress
  • improve self-control and sense of boundaries
  • lessen depression, fatigue, pain, and hypersensitivity

I’m dragging my wonderful hunky baby on this adventure. I don’t know that he is overly excited about being in the sessions, but he has such an incredible meditative mind. Besides,  from my past experiences after returning home to him from BrainGym workshops,  he will find it is WELL WORTH not having to wait for me to get back home to reap the benefits—if you know what I mean. Honestly, I’m just excited about being totally alone with him for a few hours. It’s been too long since we’ve had that privilege.

As for my friend Debi, I love being around her and her hunky baby. He doesn’t have the guts to endure a spiritual retreat, but that’s okay. He also probably isn’t into candles, fish, plants, and cats like my man is, yet we love him anyway. He gives some of the biggest and best hugs I’ve ever had. I fully intend to pick Debi’s brain right down to the very last neuron. She has knowledge that I want and skills that I would like to acquire. She has led or hosted several of the BrainGym workshops I have attended and one will never find a more gracious hostess. It will be an awesome weekend filled with incredible energy.

You can be assured of two things that will happen over the weekend. First, I won’t be checking my email. Second, upon my return to blogging, I will have details (well, G-rated details anyway) about the incredible things I am expecting to happen while in Jemez Springs.

Here’s trusting you will have a weekend just as amazing as mine.

The TAKS Man is Coming

TAKS testing starts on Tuesday, March 3rd bright and early in the morning. For those of you who aren’t involved in Texas education, TAKS stands for Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. TAKS is the judge, jury, and executioner for students and teachers in the state of Texas.

The past two years have seen a significant increase in the levels of test security. It was pretty comical last year as school testing coordinators half-heartedly joked about going to jail if a student cell phone went off during the test. This year, it has surpassed comical and launched well into insane paranoid psychosis.

We have just received an email clarifying the procedure for handling a testing room maintenance issue during TAKS. If a maintenance issue arises such as a child hurling breakfast all over the desk, the custodian (who has most likely not been properly trained in test security procedures) must be accompanied at all times by a campus administrator who has been properly trained in testing procedures. 

What I want to know is when did achievement testing reach the same level as handling nuclear weapons material?  My co-worker/boss, who is the district’s tech coordinator, has a high-level military security clearance and yet had to go through test security training to be allowed to manage technical issues that might arise during online testing. We had to laugh about that one.

We are all on edge because the state authorities might just pick our district for a monitoring visit. We have had to change out door locks, install classroom doors with windows, butcher paper cover every wall in the classrooms so as to make sure there are no hidden clues in the bulletin board displays, and basically waste a whole lot of time and effort making sure someone doesn’t cheat on a test or divulge top secret classified information about the test. We have to laugh at the insanity of it all, otherwise we would each find ourselves checking into the mental hospital a couple of towns north of here.

 The tax man may be coming on April 15th, but the TAKS man is coming March 3rd and won’t leave the premises for good until May 1st. Now might be a great time to do a little BrainGym. It will not only help calm my nerves about giving this test, it will be good for the kids, too.  Here’s to the gazillion dollar state testing lobby. Thanks a lot, Guys.

Making a Difference

My Number Three child has made a significant contribution to my source of writing material. That is because she is such a gift to me in so many ways. She is wired much differently than her sisters. It’s not wrong or bad. It is just different, and it will most likely prove to serve her in ways that will make her highly successful.

Her uniqueness has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. I am a better teacher because of her. I am a more flexible parent because of her. I recognize personality traits in others and am less quick to judge that person because of her. She is a gift not only to me, but to the entire world because of the lessons I have learned from her.

Her life is pretty blessed. She had a  normal baby-hood. No traumas during pregnancy or birth. Everything was pretty much routine. Yet even as a toddler,  her personality was much different than the previous two. She smacked her forehead on the coffee table at 2 1/2, which meant a trip to the emergency room and stitches, but she healed.

At four, we began to notice what the older girls called “the cross-eyed thing”. Every so often her right eye would do its own thing. I took her to an optometrist who diagnosed severe far-sightedness (like +5.0) and amblyopia. That was a difficult experience for my daughter because she was so painfully shy at that time she would not (and I now know she could not) respond to his questions as to which image was better. As a result, he used his magic lenses and a flashlight to focus the image on her retina to his satisfaction.

For the next few years, we did the coke-bottle lenses, then contacts at age six, and later back to glasses. All of these had traumatic effects on her. The prescription reduced some over the years, but was still pretty intense. All this time, as she fought having to wear anything, I would check her vision by having her read road signs. The kid could see close up, far off, and everywhere in between just fine. As a nearsighted person who needs correction to see two feet in front of my face, I had a real problem with this. Why would someone even need correction if they could see as well as she could?

That began my search for another answer. By that time, I had accumulated some BrainGym friends who I knew had contacts in the alternative medicine world. (No, BrainGym doesn’t necessarily equal alternative. It just happened to be my source for information.) They referred me to an optometrist in Denver who was doing some different types of therapies. His name is Dr. Stuart Tessler.

I contacted Dr. Tessler with my concerns. He wanted my daughter to see a behavioral optometrist before he saw her, so as to make sure we had all the basic vision issues assessed and addressed before moving forward. He gave me three possible locations, all of which are an eight hour drive from our house. I asked him who would be best able to work with my Number 3 child. Her differentness had by that time taken the form of frozen terror when faced with a stranger pumping her for the answer to the “which is better, one or two….one, two” question. I wasn’t interested in creating more trauma for her. He didn’t hesitate for even a second. He told us Dr. Marisa Kruger would be the one.  

By this time, Number 3 was approaching eight years old, the third grade, and a beast of a state mandated reading test loomed on her horizon. I wasted no time getting her in to see Dr. Kruger. We even went one step further and took the whole family (minus one). That was probably the best experience Number 3 has ever had. Dr. Kruger was extremely patient with her and managed to draw out the necessary information without throwing her into a total frozen meltdown.

Dr. Kruger did a lot of educating that day. I learned so much about what this child was dealing with. She spoke to me from the voice of having lived a big part of what my child was living. Far sighted children have the ability to force focus their eyes, so it appears they can see clearly. The problem is this creates a tremendous amount of of stress that shows up in other areas of their lives, including behavior and academic success. She identified the activity that caused the most stress for Number 3, and prescribed minimum correction to reduce her stress for that activity. It was a pretty radical reduction in correction.

We rocked along through that school year. My daughter passed her test on the first attempt, but it was kind of close. She scored a 75 on reading and an 85 on math. We went back to Dr. Kruger during the summer after third grade and had a checkup. Adjustments were made as needed and then back to the school routine we went.

Fourth grade proved to be downright scary. It is a major leap in expectations for the students. It sees the addition of the state mandated writing test, and the reading requirements jump quite a bit. After a nerve-racking first six weeks, I requested all sorts of intervention possibilities as a means of opening the door to get my daughter some help if things continued like they had begun.

During the process, I also made contact with Dr. Tessler again. I decided to move forward with seeing what he could offer us. We scheduled, and of all things, he sent us a stress evaluation. One night before the trip to Denver, my daughter and I filled out the assessment. I knew she was experiencing lots of stress. I didn’t realize how much EVERYTHING was stressing her out.

He looked over her questionaire, asked me what my concerns were, and then proceeded to discover what was going on with her visual field. I watched the whole process from the sidelines. What he discovered was a child whose eyes worked, but whose brain wasn’t making sense of most of what was in her visual field. My daughter’s blind spot (everyone has them where the optic nerve attaches to the eye) was twice the normal size on the left eye and almost four times normal on the right side. She was only able to clearly identify what she saw in an area slightly larger than the size of a quarter with each eye. She was essentially functioning with tunnel vision. No wonder she was in a constant state of stress. She literally didn’t know what was about to blind-side her every second of every day of her young life.

He then proceded to identify a series of colors that were supportive for her body. He did this using muscle checking similar to what a chiropractor might use. We had experienced muscle checking in some of my early BrainGym classes, so I was very comfortable and confident with the process.

We left Denver with a very simple setup that included a light and some colored overlays. My daughter had been instructed to spend 20 minutes a day in total darkness with only the colored light on. She was to practice relaxed breathing techniques during that time.

The first session at home was extremely painful and traumatic. She was adamant that she didn’t want to do it. I have learned with her that punishment won’t necessarily get the desired outcome, so I have to offer some pretty significant bribes, which I did in the form of riding horses at her uncle’s house after a certain number of sessions had been completed without fuss. It worked.

The process was never an easy one, because it took away from other things she would rather be doing, however, it got easier, and the results were incredible.

After approximately six months and three different color combinations, her final visual assessment showed that her visual field had returned to something close to normal. Her stress self-assessment revealed a child who had mellowed substantially. She went from mostly 4’s and 5’s on the assessment to 0’s, 1’s, and 2’s. Her quarter-sized visual field opened up to the full limits of the testing apparatus. Her blind spots returned to normal size. Her fourth grade TAKS tests were 85 in reading and 95 in math, and she received “commended” status in math and writing. Her shyness decreased radically, and her response to discipline improved noticeably.

A year later, we are facing the fifth grade tests. Math, science, grammar, and spelling continue to be her strong subjects. Reading is still more challenging. However, she is making choices about her success in reading. When she chooses to be successful, she is. She did not have that ability before.

There are a number of things we continue to do to support my daughter’s vision and reduce her stress. We have a fabulous chiropractic neurologist who does some pretty incredible things for her. We own two horses that she rides frequently. We do our best to find sports activities that allow her to run and jump and experience success.

However, I cannot say enough about the work of Dr. Stuart Tessler and Dr. Marisa Kruger. These two people changed my daughter’s destiny in so many ways. I will continue to stay in contact with them and revisit this healing process as needed.

I highly recommend that educators and parents consider what “else” might be going on with a child who has reading challenges. Think outside the box like we did. Do what you have to do to get your child the help he or she needs. Don’t expect the school to fix things for you. They are limited in what they can do. Too many of the traditional and accepted offerings do not produce adequate results. Push your own envelope and go against the grain if you have to. It is worth spending every last penny you have to see your child turn the page on success.

What successful alternative therapies and providers have you found in your search for health and wellness? Let’s build a resource center within this blog.

Resources:

Dr. Stuart Tessler http://www.fightorflighttherapy.com/

Dr. Marisa Atria Kruger http://www.visiontransformation.net/

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