Archive for the ‘Teaching & Learning’ Category

Lessons

This week has been exciting and inspiring to say the least. I had the privilege of traveling to a beautiful desert resort to learn more about energy medicine from one of the pioneers in the field, Donna Eden. She is a lovely, lively woman who wears flow-y clothing and comes packaged with a male resembling a cross between Pierce Brosnan and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

I went as I usually do to these things seeking. I’m not sure what it is I am seeking, but I always secretly hope to be the person called up on stage who levitates or has an out of body experience or something….and as usual, that didn’t happen. Instead, from the guru, I received tidbits of enlightenment–nuggets of wisdom that let me know I’m still interested in this direction of travel.

My previous encounters with energy medicine had left me with a touch of envy for the gift that some seemed to have. They seemed to see energy, feel energy, experience a knowing about energy that I did not seem to possess. Their practice of the technique seemed so much easier because of their gifts. I felt like the learning disabled in a G/T classroom, as though I had nothing in my toolkit.

The first day of classes, I approached the registration table and discovered a woman I recognized from the class in Austin. She is a teaching assistant who has been practicing energy medicine for some time. She greeted me with open arms and I immediately relaxed. The irony of this encounter is she is the one TA from the previous class by whom I had been so intimidated and uncomfortable (my perceptions, not her actions). Lesson #1—My first impressions aren’t always right. We had so much fun and she allowed me to spend lots of time with her both during the day and in the evenings. That was a gift that blessed me in so many ways as her circle of friends includes quite a group of really cool and intriguing people.

By the end of the first 24 hours, I had learned another lesson. Lesson #2—I do read the energies of other people. I found myself highly irritated any time I had to be around a negative person. It didn’t matter how bubbly and fun they were capable of being, I was annoyed. With this lesson, I learned how to tactfully give myself some space.

My divinely appointed roommate noticed me giving someone a head and neck massage and suggested that I really got “in the zone” when I was working on her. Since I’m thinking that is a good thing, Lesson #3—I am focused on my client when I work.

The next lesson came when I watched the headache person mentioned above suffer through two days of migraines while supposedly on vacation because she is so sensitive to all the crazy, mixed up, out of whack energies that come to these events hoping, as I do, for some type of profound healing experience. She described it like this, “You know that movie ‘The Sixth Sense’ where the little kid says I see dead people? Well, I feel people.” Along with that, we learned that our guru is so connected with the energies of her daughters and others that she experienced morning sickness for one and the near death trauma of the other within the same time frame. It put her health in serious jeopardy. Lesson #4—I am grateful that I am not highly sensitive to the energies of others. I no longer desire to have that level of connectedness. Muscle checking and basic intuition will be sufficient, thank you.

The guru did bless me with a gift and a lesson. I’m not one to chase autographs. I figure they’ve got enough people sucking life out of them and taking away from their free time that I don’t need to add to it. I did finally cave once I learned that she would look at my aura and tell me my life color(s). That was a piece I really wanted, and I figured if I just made it quick and didn’t ask any questions, it wouldn’t be too much of a burden. Besides, one of her body guards (Pirate Frank as he was affectionately known) had suggested she actually loves book signings. So day 3 found me standing in front of the guru watching as she signed my book in blue and “pinky rose”. After being asked, I told her that I had just finished massage therapy school and was looking to move out of my technology work. She quickly said, “Oh, you don’t need to be in technology.” Incidentally blue is the life color of healers and pinky rose has something to do with unconditional love. Life colors rarely if ever change. Lesson #5—I was born to help people heal and everything up to now has been preparation to get me ready to do so.

The end of Day 3 found about 5 of us at a restaurant eating supper. I was blessed to be in the presence of some fabulous people, one of whom I had only encountered that day. Kelly was a beautiful 49 year old woman that looked so amazing everyone thought she had to be 20 years younger. She made us laugh so hard that strawberry margarita almost shot out my nose. (Don’t worry, Mom, it was virgin.) Lesson #6—Everyone needs to laugh that hard at least once a day. I’m thinking of asking her to move in with us. I joked that I’d share my hubby with another woman if she had the ability to help me feel as wonderful as this woman did. She is awesome.

As Day 4 came to a close and everyone was leaving, Kelly and I were about the only ones staying an additional night. We went to supper together and had an awesome visit. I had asked God to give me some sort of sign as to my direction while on this trip. I didn’t realize he would wait until the last 24 hours and then blast me with every possible sign imaginable, yet that’s exactly what happened. My visit with Kelly wrapped both of us in the realization that we are a part of something incredibly awesome, fabulous, and bigger than life. As I told her my story, she both encouraged and scolded me. She encouraged me to share my story. I really didn’t think anyone would be all that interested. She said, “This is the stuff movies are made of.” She scolded me for not already seeing what was so plain to her. I am a writer, and so I should write. I am a teacher, and so I should teach. I am a healer, and so I should heal. After all, my parents named me Angela Dawn – angel of the morning – God’s messenger. We talked for many hours and the coincidences that surfaced simply could no longer be labeled coincidence. We agreed that somehow our meeting was divinely appointed and that we were meant to encounter each other for this moment and moments to come. Lesson #7—I am meant to heal through words and touch. It is my destiny, and it is time for me to get down to business. I must make space in my life to do this.

We said goodnight and farewell and I went back to my room. I logged onto Facebook and found a post by a college friend with whom I had recently reacquainted. When visiting, I had suggested she might want to research indigo and crystal children as her description of her beautiful son suggested he aligned with some of the qualities of those children. She had written a loving tribute to him and penned the words to a song about her indigo child. Lesson #8—My words are already helping people heal. There is no telling how many lives will be touched by her song, and in a roundabout way, by my nudge.

By 6:30 AM I was on a plane to Denver to see my vision therapist. He is an optometrist who works energetically through muscle checking to help people overcome that which holds them back from being their best. His work opens up the visual field using colored lights. He has other energetic work as well, which we may investigate next summer. While there, he told me about a family in Missouri who had reached the end of their rope with a child. In a desperate search, they found his website, and then my blog post that mentioned our results with his work. Long story short, they took a chance and it paid off in a life-changing way. Lesson #9—Sometimes I may not even know who my words help to heal.

Shortly after noon, I met another college friend whom I also had not seen in the 20 years since graduation. What a beautiful woman she is! As we began to visit and catch up, I saw a door open just slightly that allowed me to share with her a piece of my story. At one point, I felt compelled to ask her if she sees colors around people. She seemed shocked that I had asked that but quickly said, “Yes! Yes I do!”. I talked with her some more and shared the things I had seen and experienced earlier in the week. She was fascinated and excited to say the least. Overwhelmed is a descriptor that has surfaced many times this week for both of us. I wanted to ask her what she saw when she looked at me, but I refrained.

Later that evening after we had parted ways, she re-opened that door of opportunity as she texted me to make sure my trip had been a safe one. I then asked her what she saw when she looked at me. She indicated she hadn’t noticed when I was in her presence, but in looking back, she saw a blue color surrounding me and it was very strong. I had deliberately not told her my life colors when we visited because I knew this moment would come and it would be important for her to have the same validation I had been seeking. Since that time, she has messaged me that she continues to discover and experience incredible things. Lesson #10—The Divine will bring teacher into the student’s presence at a precise moment in time when the student is ready, and the teacher may learn as much from the student as the student learns from the teacher.

The Bonus Lesson

As I look around at my world and see so many people searching for a spiritual experience that goes beyond what religion has given them, I realize that many of us are being drawn together for a common purpose. The circumstances and time into which we were born and raised are important factors in our mission. Without the experiences, gifts, and even baggage our family, friends, and others who cross our path have given us, we could not accomplish that which is about to be undertaken.

Jesus Christ came 2000 years ago, gathered his team, and delivered his message of the extraordinary powers of healing we possess—life saving healing. For some reason, God has once again chosen to remind his creations, the extensions of his soul that they are in fact a part of him and are tapped into his power stream. It didn’t go away after the first century as some would have us to believe. It simply went dormant from lack of faith and use. Lesson #11—We chose this time, this place, these circumstances, our parents, and our friends because without them, we would not be properly equipped for the mission. We are here to remind humanity of who they are. Will humanity accept it this time or will they once again kill the messenger and the message?

Stay tuned…..

 

 

 

Christian Enlightenment

Over the past couple of years, I have developed an interest in learning more about world religions. Most of my life has been wrapped up in a very legalistic view of one religion, Christianity. I grew up in a fairly conservative church with conservative teachers, ministers, and church leaders. I even acquired my bachelor’s degree from a university affiliated with that church organization. Exposure to other religions was less than encouraged unless it was to learn about how they erred from the true pathway to heaven. While some may see those experiences as very restrictive, oppressive, and negative, it has actually a blessing. The things I learned while immersed in that belief system have given me much insight and knowledge from which to make some life impacting evaluations and comparisons.
 
However recent exposures, both incidental and intentional, to some of the beliefs of other world religions has done much to open my eyes about my own traditional belief system. It is exciting and at the same time a bit unnerving. I absolutely love discovering the similiarities between world religions. I find it amazing to see how God has revealed his purpose and  his nature to the entire universe meeting people where they are. (See http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx234.htm for an “enlightened” example of many similarities.)  I recognize that some of the beliefs contained in world religions are contrary to my own. Much study is still needed for me to become completely comfortable with those boundaries. Discernment is a necessary and useful skill that I am still developing, but I’m gaining ground on that one.
 
And yet, I find it disturbing how violently and dramatically some Christians choose to react to the mere mention of anything to do with other world religions. It is as if in their minds the mere utterance of the name of a non-Christian religion will condemn a person to some sort of curse or fiery eternal sentence. Some Christians find it difficult to reconcile practices like Yoga and meditation with their beleifs. I find this very sad. God uses so many ways to reveal himself to us. Yet we often walk away from these revelations because we fear what we do not understand. He has given us some incredibly powerful gifts to use at our disposal, and still we choose to leave those gifts at the feet of the Cross of Jesus because they too closely resemble some practice in use by another religion. At least that is an excuse we use. Could it possibly be that we simply choose not to accept the fullness of what Jesus gave to the world?
 
On this Easter Sunday, as we celebrate the greatest miracle in Christianity with love and gratitude, may we also take time to examine the teachings of Jesus that preceded and followed his celebratory death and resurrection. Let’s make a conscious choice to look at the divine messages God delivered to humanity through Jesus Christ. Some of them are eerily similar to practices and teachings delivered through Buddhism, Hinduism, and others, and may be easier to recognize and apply to our lives when viewed through those teachings. Don’t be satisfied with being saved and headed for heaven. Let’s take ahold of everything Jesus laid out in front of us, demonstrated for us, and encouraged us to put into practice in our lives. Seek to further understand how to pray believing we’ve already received. Pursue the concept of energy and how you can help another person heal with your energy just as Jesus did. Study Jesus’ message that he is the Light of the World and how you can become enlightened with him and in him. It will truly make a difference in the future of our entire world.
 
Blessings,
Angie

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……

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.

Students as Evaluators

I recently saw a blog post by a young mother whose kindergartener had gotten in trouble at school. When asked what he had done, the little man promptly replied that he told the teacher his assignment was stupid. Mom looked at the assignment, said something about how we can’t say things like that to our teachers, then agreed (in her head) with her son’s assessment of the assignment.
 
Last night, my massage classmates and I were chatting about life and growing up, when one of them mentioned he had been kicked out of band in the sixth grade. I asked him HOW in the WORLD does a person get kicked out of band in the sixth grade? I mean, this guy is the sweetest, quietest guy with absolutely wonderful energy about him. How could HE get kicked out of band? It seems he felt the task at hand was stupid and they were all being held back (to half note speed) for the sake of the less advanced instrumentalists. Apparently he made his feelings known and then paid a price. What a loss for the world of music!
 
How often do educators give an assignment or task to a child without helping a child see the benefit of the assignment? Yes, I know, kids don’t get to run the show, yet in American education, we use a model, which is about as old as the US Constitution. As an aside, it should be noted that we have had much greater success adhering to an archaic education model than we have had adhering to our blessed Constitution.
 
Kids want the same thing I want. They want things to be authentic, valuable, and worthy of their time and effort whether they are 5 years old, or 16 years old. Adults who are assigned employment tasks that are too easy, too difficult, or seemingly pointless will either get sick or simply quit.
My number 3 daughter literally threw up the first two days of school this year and was sick at her stomach the rest of the first week. No bugs….just a total lack of interest to the point of resenting it. She has a really cool teacher who truly understands the need to be authentic with the kids, however, Number 3 doesn’t play the game well, and she will tell you and show you if she thinks it is a stupid waste of her valuable time and energy. Halfway through the year, she is doing much better, because she has a teacher who is able to cut the crap and get down to what is truly important.
 
How many of us know a brilliant kid who dropped out (or seriously underperformed their potential) because they simply refused to play the game? They are true to themselves, yet are unwilling to comform for comformity’s sake. Some go on to become great entrepreneurs. Others go on to become acquainted with the prison system.  If they are tough enough to take it, they succeed. If they are beaten down and made to feel stupid, they succumb to mediocrity or worse.
 
Education doesn’t typically honor being authentic, unique, and different. Education tends to honor average conformity. Education favors straight rows, standardized tests, logic dominant thinking, and a “do-as-you’re-told” compliance. The teacher who steps out of that mold and truly honors his/her students in a way that allows them to be authentically themselves takes a huge risk, yet gives an invaluable gift to students. Those kids love that teacher no matter how difficult the assignment. Kids evaluate teachers every day, with no formal assessment instrument required. That teacher will get glowing recommendations for generations to come. Administrative evaluators would do well to take note of kid evaluations.
How would you respond to a student who says an assignment is stupid? Does student feedback reflect on the teacher? How can we engage those students who aren’t willing to play the game?How does this relate to our parenting skills? Do our children sometimes think we have assigned them meaningless and useless tasks? How can we improve that situation? Chime in everybody!

Superior Goals

Goal setting is a funny thing. It seems like everyone has an idea of how you should do it. People who write grants and coordinate long range planning know that there are goals, objectives, strategies, and activities. The goal is “The Big Guy”. Everything else breaks it down into steps until you get to the “whatcha gonna do about it” activities.

BrainGym takes that process of creating goals and makes them very simple.

  1. Identify something in your life that you wish were better, easier, simpler, more relaxed, etc. Ex. I wish I could make this decision without agonizing over it.
  2. Answer this question in a complete sentence: “If it were ideal, how would it be?” Use “I” statements, and keep that naughty little word “NOT” out of your answer. To continue with the example above, “I easily decide which way to go.” This is “The Big Guy” mentioned above.
  3. Notice where in your body you experience the stress of brain-body disagreement. Even though your brain thinks it, your mouth says it, and your hand writes it, your body is tightening up as if to get ready for a sucker punch in the gut. That’s the stress that we feel when what we want is different from our perceived reality.
  4. Calm the stress response with a few BrainGym movements, maybe some nice soothing music, and notice the stress response settling down. (This would be the “whatcha gonna do about it” activities.)
  5. Restate your goal–the “if it were ideal, how would it be” statement.
  6. Notice how you feel now. Most likely, you will feel more at ease.

Easy breezy. In a classroom setting, it can be even simpler. Notice the chaos, lead the kids in some BrainGym activities, then notice the improvement.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you. What? You don’t know the BrainGym movements? Seems like you have a couple of options. Check out my Powerful Reads  page and get a book, or better yet, spend a few days with us in March and get some first hand, real-life experience with these Superior methods.

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