The Conquered Fear

frightened PhoebeI have been homeschooling Phoebe since she was a year old. At the age of six this commitment to her education has put her at the top of her kindergarten class, has her reading on a fourth grade level, and she has begun to write her own short stories with correct spelling.  Joy and I couldn’t be more proud with her success, but that is not what this post is about.

This post is about the fear she confronted when she competed  in the area Spelling Bee hosted by the Boys and Girls Club. She was invited after she won her school Spelling Bee for kindergaten.

We couldn’t wait to watch her show off her stuff.   Phoebe was so excited she couldn’t stop talking about what might happen.  We walked through the newly built Boys and Girls downtown location and immediately stood in line.

Phoebe had to register, but her waiting paid off when she got her shirt for participation. They even provided a light breakfast. Which we had to wolf down because by the time we were through the line the competition was beginning.

Phoebe located the classroom for the competition where sat fifteen little wooden chairs in a row at the front, and four lines of bigger chairs for the spectators.

There was a word list that was made available to us. After being asked to spell a few words Phoebe took the list, sat down in one of the little wooden chairs, and began to study.  I was amazed at her dedication.

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Woodchip of Wisdom: All you can do is throw the woodchips into the air having them fall where they may. It is up to everyone else to pick them up and start a fire.

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood.

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After ten more minutes the judges entered. The show was about to begin. It started by having the rules read aloud. Then the names of all the children were read. A slight snafu occurred, to which Joy quickly rectified, when Phoebe’s name didn’t make it onto the list.

Her name was quickly penciled in.

Each of the fifteen children took their turn at spelling a word. Only four out of the first fourteen moved on for a chance at the top three spots. Phoebe watched as, one by one, more than half the field eliminated itself. Then it was her turn.

She stood up and faced the judge ready to speak. Her face became as long as she could make it as she turned beat red. Fighting tears is a hard thing to do at six.

We wanted to help her, but both Joy and I were stuck. We didn’t want anyone to accuse of us cheating, but we so desperately wanted to give her the hug she wanted. We encouraged the best we could from the sideline, but to no avail.

She had to face the judge and spell the word to him and only him. She had only ever spelled for us in the past.  She wouldn’t let herself turn around.  I was ready to move. I took a step, but the judge’s assistant was faster.

She got up from her chair, tenderly turned Phoebe around holding her hand, and pointed to the judge. “You just have to spell the word. Are you ready?” Phoebe nodded with tears in her eyes.  She was contantly trying to wipe them away with her fist.

“Blue.”

With a shaking voice coated in tears she began to spell.

“B—-L—-U—-E.” The crowd, all thirty of us, errupted with applause.  Phoebe and the judge’s assistant both took their seats. We still couldn’t run to her as the kids were still vying for the three spots. So, her tears subsided, but didn’t disappear.

Fortunately, for her two out of the first four kids misspelled their words and Phoebe moved onto the finals without having to spell another word in the preliminaries.

Phoebe hugShe ran to us.  Joy sat down on the ground as Phoebe buried her face in Joy’s shoulder. Parents and judges alike congratulated Phoebe on her accomplishment. All she wanted to do was go home.  After a little tickling and a trip to look at the trophies Phoebe started to pull herself together.

The bee went in reverse order starting with high schoolers and moving backwards. Phoebe witnessed as kids older than her struggled for the top spot. There were quite a few wars between kids, but most ended in the C’s.  (The list of words being asked were in alphabetical order. There were some groups that didn’t get past the A’s before declaring a winner.)

Third place was quickly established in the kindergarten group, but Phoebe and her rival put on a show. There challenge pushed through the D’s, and into the F’s where Phoebe fell to her final word. Down.  She misheard the word “done”. Though she spelled it correctly it was still the wrong word. The winner won, coincidently, with the word “fun”.

Phoebe trophy

Phoebe accepted her second place trophy happily and when she was asked if it was fun. She said yes.

Fear is left behind when a challenge is met head on. Win or lose the second time around gets easier. 

Thanks for reading, and all of your online interactions.
F.B.

After the Scare

Sick PhoebeThere is a multitude of scares out there in the world that result in worry.  There is the scare of an almost car crash. There is the scare of someone cheating on you.  There are also minor scares, like were you ready for that pop quiz today?

In each of these instances when you relive them with someone you only talk about the incident itself. The almost crash, or the anger that thoughts of someone cheating brought forth.  When the conversation ends you feel you should move on, but something is holding you back whether we admit it openly or not.

You may not be able to identify it, but something within yourself has begun to change for better or for worse.

I have had scares in my life, but as some of you may already know Joy and I received one of the biggest scares we’ve ever had to worry about.  Phoebe was diagnosed with punemonia. Our world and our routinues fell apart. All halted to make sure we could all get through this happy and healthy.

She has since recovered and has returned to school this past Monday after being absent for a week.

We were in such a state of panic that Joy cancelled her travel plans and I completely skipped school save for one Wednesday class. We did everything we could to make her feel better, after the penicillin shots.  I carried her in and out of the doctor’s office, and up to her room. We provided her with pillows, blanket, cough medicine, and heating pads. Even the cat and dog did their part to keep her company on the couch.

**************************************************************************Woodchip of Wisdom: The fear of the beginning is over after the first step.

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily cover1Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood.

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It was an interesting turn of events that as she got better my mood got worse. With the extra free time I could have cleaned the house, or gotten ahead on my homework, but I didn’t. In fact as the week wore on and Phoebe regained her mobility and independence I became almost listless.

The word ineffectual had begun to ring in my ears over and over and the feeling it brought affected everything I did. The notion carried over into how I had begun to view the world. I began to see there was no point in any of the dreams I was working towards.

worn outI could try and try, but the difference I wanted to make could be wiped away by a virus. Something I would never be able to see outside of a photograph.

I returned to work hoping to find some sort of impact that my thread bore on the great tapestry of life, but to my end all I could do was keep putting one foot in front of the other doing my best not to let my head hang too low.

Fragility of the mind and body. Our existence questioned at the drop of a catastrophe no matter how big or small.

Usually, I have some words to lift my spirit.  Some phrase to fall back on that brings things into persepective. That is one of the reasons for this post. My head has continued to swim with pessimism every since Phoebe was diagnosed. I have no intention of turning my back on the duties as a father, husband, and student.  I just want to find that gusto that kept my sails full of life.

Phoebe and daddy in a treeIt can be said that we are the gusto for ourselves. That no amount of praise of how great a father one is, or how great a writer, or student, brings that which we must provide for ourselves.

Praise is a poor substitute for self confidence.

No one can take away any part of yourself that you didn’t want taken.

There has never been a case where bitching has solved any problems, but I won’t stop you from spilling the words if it gets the feeling of ineffectuality out of your head.

Thanks for reading,
F.B.

To P.E. or not to P.E.

PE
Standing in lines waiting to exercise.

Endless push ups. Tiring sit ups. Repetitive jumping jacks. No, this isn’t the military it was my P.E. class. I never considered myself athletically inclined, but I was always sad when I missed P.E. I never won any of the races. I couldn’t dunk the basketball. I didn’t make a very good outfielder, but I was always a little bummed. Simply because I wasn’t sitting at a desk.

A study published by the University of Michigan in 2005 found that children who exercised had improved circulation which increased blood flow to the brain, and raised endorphin levels. This helped to reduce stress, improve mood and attitude, and calm children. Physically active students may also achieve more academically and are less likely to miss school, partake in risky behaviors, get pregnant, or attempt suicide.

Personally, I didn’t need all that put into words to let me know how flag football made me feel. I didn’t always catch the ball, but I always felt good that I could run with the varsty football players and almost do what they could do.

Well, as you may know Phoebe has begun school. It was a delight to meet her teachers and be introduced to her curriculum; computers, music, library. The possibility of advanced reading classes (which she’s in).  When I asked about P.E. I was informed that there are no public elementary schools within our county that offer P.E. due to budget constraints.

This is appereantly a growing trend according to a 2012 Tampa Bay Times report who got their facts checked with a spokesperson from the CDC. The CDC 2006 statistics stated that 69.3 percent of elementary schools, 83.9 percent of middle schools and 95.2 percent of high schools required PE in 2006.  This figure means that there is one third of the public elementary schools without any form of P.E., not even a once a week curriculum like this 69.3 percent is set up for. The CDC also reported that in 2012 18 percent of the children in the elementary age range (6-11) are obese.

I was floored to hear that my child was going to grow up without crab soccer, sharks and minnows, red light green light, or any of the other countless games there are to imporve a childs self confidence and muscles. There was no way I was going to stand by and watch that happen.

I volunteered right there on the spot for a once a week class on Fridays.

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Woodchip of Wisdom: When throwing darts even a blind man can hit a bullseye, even if he didn’t mean to.

Find more encouragement in our coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood. cover1

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Now, I do not have an early childhood education degree, nor do I even have a degree in physical education. What I do have is a desire to sweat. Exercise is a part of life and the sooner a person understands that the longer their health will last. I called on one my oldest educations, my black belt. As much as I wanted to dedicate the whole class to martial arts my students were only six and health risks were a concern as they lacked control over their hands and feet.

But what I had done is teach. I spent two years teaching children from the age of 6 to 16 right after achieving my black belt. So, I was famliar with how to wrangle in the kids and explain things on a level they could comprehend. The next step was to find a curriculum. As of standing I have found no standardized curriculum for P.E. So, I just kept the metaphorical “lights” off and plunged into the unknown.

I began by using all the games I remembered playing in school as a kid. I couldn’t really do organized sports so those were out(maybe I’ll introduce them in the first or second grade). So, I only had four weeks of games. I began researching games on the internet and found several useful sites  theschoolbell.com and sparkpe.org just to name a couple. I came up with games like crackers and crumbs, two pin bowling, frisbee server, and many more.

One for everyday I have volunteeered.
One for everyday I have volunteeered.

The games were fun, but they weren’t using up the entire half hour I had been allocating for P.E. It was then that I realized the thing that Coach Waters and Coach Perry had always had me do during P.E., Work Out. I was going to show the kids how to do jumping jacks, streches, push ups, sit ups, and mountain climbing. They grumbled in the beginning. They whined about their stomachs hurting, but now six months later they are trying to do twice as many sits ups that I ask and jump twice as high as each other.

Honestly, I don’t think any of the kids realize all the benefits that the studies put forth by the University of Michigan.  All they know is that there is a window of time where you don’t have to sit at a desk. I know they look forward to it because when I show up their smiles light up and their bottoms can hardly stay in their seats.

Hopefully, your children already have a P.E. program that you get to hear about, but if their school is in the unfortunate one third then I hope this post helped you find a little light.

You don’t have to know everything to teach, just make sure you’re at least a step ahead of your students.
(To be honest I’m not even sure what game we’re playing this Friday. I’ll figure it out Thursday night.)

Thanks for reading,
F.B.

Inside the Cube: Emotions in the cube…It’s Nothing Personal

alfI handle deadlines. I handle minute details. I handle digging through massive amounts of data. I do not handle the emotions of others well, period. Put a sobbing blubbery mess in my cube – I completely shut down. How am I supposed to respond to that? What could I possibly say to make this person feel any better about their situation?

Or what about the snickering snide comments coming from the cube behind me? I’m sorry I’m too busy demolishing deadlines to care. Oh, but wait half the people sitting around that person is offended by the snickering. *SIGH* I don’t like mixing emotions with work unless their 100% genuine.  From what I could tell this employee was being 100% genuine about being completely miserable. It hit me as extremely unprofessional to be so out of control with ones emotions. Last time I checked we employed adults, not high school kids.

**************************************************************************cover1Woodchip of Wisdom: When throwing darts even a blind man can hit a bullseye, even if he didn’t mean to.

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood.

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When I moved out to Reno in 2013 I really took it as an opportunity to start over, totally new. I only had to worry about where the bathroom was and point me in the direction of the coffee pot I was good to go. I have no problems feeling my own way through situations. I was a happy worker bee in my hive accomplishing my goals. Toss a few other employees in the mix, suddenly I had to worry about other people’s feelings. Or at least I thought so. But what do you do when that employee is OVERLY sensitive to the point where you can hear them sigh with discontent from across a warehouse floor full of whirring conveyer belts?

You make it explicitly clear that it is not your job to manage their emotions. As much as you want to be 110% honest, albeit borderline cruel, because let’s face it this person taxes your nerves mercilessly from 9-5 p.m., you still have to be polite about it.

#1. Emotions are indicators. There’s always another reason behind that weepy reaction. When I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture, I realized that this person was on high emotion overload because they were floundering at their job, but didn’t want to admit it. They were also feeling threatened by high performing co-workers. They were in defense mode – every little eye flick, hand gesture, tone inflection, is pain staking scrutinized for any hidden meaning. “Did that throat clearing mean I’m getting the ax?” Basically, it’s not you, it’s them. Your managerial actions are just sending them over the tipping point. Make sure your communications are crystal clear, well documented, and don’t be afraid to do your job. Not everyone will get along with your style.

butthurt

#2. Set & Maintain Boundaries. If you prefer to be called Ms. Asskicker, don’t allow the overly sensitive person pull you in by calling you Imma. Watch out for little “tokens of affection” peppered all over your desk as well. These are other attempts of the overly sensitive person trying to get too personal. Its one thing to be nice and share treats, it’s another to lavish a boss with crazy gifts i.e. clothes, stuffed animals, or any non office related gifts.

Let’s get real here too, the day you take a job in management is the day you can no longer be personal friends with your staff. Trust me those relationships breakdown when you’ve got to enforce company policies, i.e. be the bad guy. It sucks when you’ve got to start making sure you’re not being “too friendly” or “playing favorites” with your staff. It’s always safer to err on the side of professionalism. It does not mean, never care about your employees or don’t be polite, keep it short and sweet. It just means don’t let them think or feel they’re best friends with the boss lady. That’s the day you can kiss their respect for you good-bye.

professionalism
I like to call this Wednesday.

#3. Over-communicate. This one may be a little time consuming but it’s always worth it in the long run. It kills two birds with one stone. Over communicating allows the overly sensitive person to know exactly where they stand with you and what you expect out of them.

Bonus points with HR for it being in writing. If the problem persists, you’ve got the documentation to back up any future actions and it keeps you from becoming a broken record. If you feel you’re becoming a broken record, it’s time to get HR involved. Yes, you can have a casual conversations with HR and the employee. This allows you to have an advocate on your side backing you up while hopefully getting the message across in a non-threatening way.

communication
Never be afraid to call a rebel, a rebel.

#4. Set the expectation – they need to do their job. It is what you get paid for, right? Emotions can run high even in boring office environments, but if you remember points #1-3, there is no reason the overly sensitive person can’t meet their job expectations. Stay calm and document.

images

Thanks for checking Inside the Cube once again,
Joy

Ode to the Clean House

man-cleaning-houseAfter weeks of not hearing from us here at In the Woods Publishing I can understand why you would be scratching your head at this post’s given topic. But I must confess this is a topic that has weighed on my mind for quite some time.

Dirt is a constant. Whether you walk in and out of your house, it’s there. Even if you sit perfectly still and do nothing for all eternity dust will continue to accumulate. You yourself add to the dust. It is a never ending cycle of clean and dirty. If you have kids the process seems to repeat itself more frequently then if you don’t.

It is a process that I know intimately. As the stay at home parent it has generally fallen to me to do the majority of the house cleaning. I spent most of the day with Phoebe making the mess. It seems only fit that I clean them up. I also feel it my part as providing for the family. Things have changed recently with my schooling and Joy has begun to do more on a regular basis.

But that’s not what this post is about. I have often neglected my duties. I am not as dilligent a housekeeper as I could be. There have been times when I have sluffed down in my recliner to watch T.V., drink in head, ready to relax, only to find I can’t make room for my drink because there is already to many plates, glasses, and bottles covering up the end table.

I am then stuck with the dilemma: clean up the mess, or hold onto the drink in my lap. Most of you, myself included, who grew up with parents would have their training kick in. It would tell you to clean up the mess. I don’t always choose this course of action.

Then as I watch my show, or movie, I am reminded through the entire thing that there is a looming cloud of work directly over me. It starts to invade my head. Slowly creeping in over a short period of time until it’s virtually impossible to relax.

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Woodchip of Wisdom: When throwing darts even a blind man can hit a bullseye, even if he didn’t mean to.

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood.

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Anthony Bourdain brought in a similar concept in his book Kitchen Confidential when he was yelled at for having a dirty station. It wasn’t dirty, per se, but cluttered with mushroom and onion ends, and bell pepper seeds. His chef at the time looked at his station and said, “See that. That’s what the inside of your head looks like. Clean it up.” From then on his station remained emaculate and he found it easier to concentrate on the task at hand.

Taiga and ISo, you can see how difficult it is to maintain a stress free head when you come home to a dirty litter box, a mountain of dishes, and laundry for as far as the eye can see. The process of cleaning the house not only supplies for a stress free enviornment, but it provides something much more important satisfaction.

The completion of a job to the best of your ability is one of the most important things any of us can do. Saying “I’m done and I couldn’t have done it any better.” is as statement we all like to make. It makes us feel like we can conquer anything.

The home is where a lot of us spend our time. It is our sancutary away from the rest of the world’s problems.  When those troubles feel out of control, as if they are indeed beating the very front door of your house down, know that there are some things in this world well within your control. They are how you react to those negative situations and what you do in the wake of that reaction.

Taking control of things in your life can simply start by cleaning the clutter out of your own house. 

Thanks for taking the time to read. I always look forward to hearing from you.
F.B.

Concert House Rocks: Hero Worship

meeting your idolOver the last year I’ve shared with you quite a few oddities as they have strolled through the door here at the Concert House. I’ve gotten into fights, met celebrities, and scratched my head wondering how they could call THAT music. So, on this time of reflection the one anomaly that continues to throw mystery in my face has been hero worship.

The displays have ranged from screaming a hero’s catch phrase as everyone waits in line only to have it chanted back by the crowd. Other times the hero/celebrity has come walking outside to see the line and the line has erupted in chants of “Love you!” or “Holler!” or something to that effect. Each one vying for his, or her, attention only to be drowned out by everyone else attempting the same thing. But, no hero worship compares to the hyperventilating.

It was a pair of girls, maybe fourteen years old.  They approached the podium doing everything in their power to catch their breaths. They couldn’t speak. Their hands shook as they handed over the tickets. I asked if they were going to enjoy themselves and they ecstatically nodded thier heads. Their mouths still beyond speech.

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Woodchip of Wisdom: When throwing darts even a blind man can hit a bullseye, even if he didn’t mean to.

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood.

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It was baffling to me.  In this line of work I have met many celebrities, minor and medium. No movie super stars, but people that are nationally recognized. I’ve gotten hugs, held conversations, and even received instructions about the show. Before that I had been exposed to other celebrities. I told myself that they are just people who put their pants on one leg at a time. That was until I met my hero.

Bruce CampbellMy ticket was to meet Bruce Campbell and it cost $200. It was a VIP picture and autograph combo package. Not only did I get a speical edition badge, lithograph, and comic, I also got to skip the lines at the Comic book convention. So, I waltzed into the covention. I had never been to one on this size with so many people costume playing. I walked right up to the line and they sped me right to the front. As I stood there, feeling the contempt ooze out of the rest of the line, I began to get misty. My face flushed red and I was trying desperately to fight tears. I had a thousand questions for Bruce, but they all jumped out of my head as I stood there. Joy and Phoebe came to the front of the line with me and quickly calmed me down.  When Bruce did come out to sign autographs I could say little more than “Hi” and “Thank you”. Fortunately he interacted with Phoebe more than myself.

Again I was baffled. I had finally felt the nerdgasm for a hero. Yet, I had no idea why it happened.  Until I started to think about the first time I met Bruce Campbell on T.V. I spent the better part of my childhood, and tweens, scared of horror movies. I could look at the picture on the front, but I couldn’t make it through movies on T.V. I left the room when they were rented, and I never paid to see one in the theaters. So, when my dad rented The Army of Darkness I got through ten minutes and then left the room. As I am reading a book I suddenly hear my brother roaring with laughter.   I poke my head into the room to see Bruce battling deadites in such a ludacris fashion I can’t help but watch. Seeing the absuridity of this “horror movie” helped me see the absurdity in other horror movies.

I began to tackle other horror moives and soon, I may not have liked them, but I was familiar with horror movie monsters. Upon this recollection it was then that I realized why I had been so awestruck with my hero. He helped me overcome something I thought to be insurmountable. A fear I had harbored that no longer plagued my life.

So, when I think back to those two hyperventilating girls I wonder what their hero’s did for them. Did he put into words feeling they were having troubles expressing? Did he explain something poignantly to them in a song? Did he just make them laugh when they needed to laugh? I’ll never know, but now that I have found myself in the throws of hero worshipping I don’t have to wonder why people lose themselves with excitement upon seeing, or meeting, them.

Heroes are made by those that believe them to be heroes.

Thanks for reading,
F.B.

Merry Christmas!

New Years

*Sigh* This is the first year that I didn’t get Christmas cards out in the mail. I know I’m not alone, but there was a significant pang of regret about it. As a replacement, I whipped up the eCard below. Enjoy!

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Happy Holidays everyone! Thank you for checking in with us throughout the year.

Public Youth Education

PhoebeSchoolPicture2What. The. Heck. I am in disbelief that 2014 is almost gone. Did this year really just whizz by faster than last year? Seeing as this is the first year Phoebe has been in school full time, yes, it has gone by faster. Our calendar is chiseled in stone with morning drop offs, afternoon pick-ups, early releases, after school programs and teacher work days. Some days we’re left scrambling to align our schedules because college life and business life have not heard of such things as “Teacher Work Days”. In the blur of this past school year we’ve gotten the full public school experience. A few things have surprised me in a good way, some left me scratching my head, and other things have flat out disgusted me.

#1. What is up with all the days off school? Maybe it’s just me, but growing up in a private school we NEVER got as many days off from school as Phoebe has gotten this year. (And the school year is only half way over). We never got any of the traditional bank holidays or voting day off. We had Summer Break, Thanksgiving and Winter break – that’s it. Snow days? What are those? Teacher Work Days? Didn’t happen. I blame budget cuts and poor school board management. The fewer days the kids are in school the less we have to pay those teachers and power bills? Right? Sad. Yet, they wonder why kids are “left behind”. People wonder why children are  lacking in fundamentals and consistently scoring lower on national tests. Here’s a thought, pay the teachers MORE and keep the kids in school LONGER.

#2. NO P.E.?! Another victim of the almighty budget cuts, there are no Physical Education Teachers in any Washoe County school on the elementary level. Let me say that again – NO P.E.! Yet, our kids are growing up in a generation struggling with childhood obesity. Get the picture? Overhauling children’s diets is only one piece of the puzzle Mrs. Obama. Food and exercise go hand in hand. I know when I was little I had a love/hate relationship with PE, but I never ever thought it would be removed from schools all together.

**************************************************************************cover1Woodchip of Wisdom: When throwing darts even a blind man can hit a bullseye, even if he didn’t mean to.

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood.

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#3. Fundraising Burnout. I think the biggest take away I’ve gotten from this year is just how desperately Phoebe’s school needs our money. Every week we’re bombarded with a flier for one fundraiser or another. They want us to sell wrapping paper, or chocolate, or dine at a specific restaurant, or buy books from a specific store on a certain day. Currently , they are selling candy grams for Christmas.

#4. Good Teachers Really Care. Phoebe is super lucky to have Mrs. Payne. From day one she’s been aware of Phoebe’s abilities and instead of letting Phoebe just fall through the cracks she’s been pushing Phoebe and challenging her as much as possible. Not only has she given Phoebe additional work books, books, and chores. She sends Phoebe to a first grade class once a week and has requested a student iPad for Phoebe.

For the record my husband grew up an average public school kid. Back in his day, not only did he ride the bus, he often walked to school – gasp! I know right? How unheard of these days. Unless you live literally across the street from the school your child is attending. Most parents would freak out at the thought of their child walking to school. I on the other hand, grew up in private Christian schools, being chauffeured to class each day by one of my parents and only having to endure a bus ride for field trips. Pretty much the polar opposite of my husband, but we both thrived in our educational environments.

PhoebeSchoolPicturePhoebe is thriving as well. She’s received a hybrid mix of homeschooling and traditional school, but Phoebe is far from a traditional student. Phoebe was reading and reciting her colors, shapes and some sight words by 15 months. She was fully potty trained by 18 months. She was reading signs, books, anything she could get her hands on and we just kept going with her. Many people feared that she’d become stunted socially. Others said that we would have a trouble maker on our hands because she’d be bored. Others doubted her actual intelligence “She’s memorized it right?” “She’s not ACTUALLY reading that right?” – She clearly enunciated and read every single word on the pages in front of her. She can read it. But trust me I had my doubts – “Are we blowing it out of proportion?”

All of my anxiety and concerns for Phoebe evaporated the second her teacher put her test scores up on the smart board (no more overhead projectors folks). It’s one thing to know your child is smart, it’s another to see it on a graph in black and white. Each child was tested and assigned a number so the results were annoynmous. The childs number was written down in the parent folder so each parent would know how their child did. Phoebe bounced over, “Mommy! Mommy! Who’s #4? Look at #4! It’s off the charts!”

Phoebe was #4.

Obviously I didn’t tell Phoebe what her number was. We’re keeping her grounded here. We didn’t need her announcing it to everyone. Lots of parents were caught off guard, others didn’t bother to show up.

I have mixed feelings about it. I know we are blessed to have a smart kid (still struggling with the “gifted” word), but some days it’s a little terrifying – “Will she be picked on? Shunned? Made fun of?” Other days it’s frustrating when she’s forgotten about, usually happens when a substitute teacher is involved and forgets to send her to her first grade class. Other days it’s awesome to watch her soar – when she blows through 13 pages of a math work book or reads books to her classmates or builds elemental structure of thymine “for fun” (Thanks again Stephanie for the app!).  The whole reason we keep encouraging her is to see how far she can go. We don’t force any of this on her, she seriously enjoys it.

I’ll never forget her teacher asking us; “What the heck we did with Phoebe?”

We simply explained that we have family members that value education (teachers, homeschoolers) and they offered us endless support. In some cases dumping books in our laps or pointing us in the right direction for resources. The secret is ACTUALLY DOING IT. Sticking to it. We still stick to it even though Phoebe is in school. We’ve seen what has happened to the kids who’s parents say “That’s what school is for.” Those kids are so far behind it’s ridiculous. Kids that don’t know colors, shapes, letters or numbers. Kids coming in at a below zero reading level to kindergarten. She wanted to know specifics and we just told her, we took everything we got our hands on from WIC, pediatricians, books, studies, ect…and just ran with it. Obviously, somethings didn’t work for us, but we gave everything a fair shake and stayed consistent with what we chose to do with Phoebe.

wtfThere’s really no secret to helping your child get ahead. #1. Read to them. #2. Continue to read to them at higher levels. #3. Stay involved. Everything from homework to workbooks to class room activities to field trips – whatever, stay involved keep yourself active and present in their education and your child will flourish in their environment too.

Ensuring that your child receives a well rounded educational foundation is not the governments responsibility. It’s not even the schools responsibility either – I mean have you seen the average public school? Have you seen their budget they’re working with? Teachers and volunteers (yes, folks donating their time, not earning a dime) are stretched thin as it is. It is up to the parent of the child.

Thanks for reading,
Joy

Patience in Specifics

pulling-out-hair2Recently, it came to pass that I needed to make a little extra income for the family.  I put it out there for the almight job hunting gods, and everyone else to know, I needed money and I would do “anything” to make it happen.

I began combing Craigslist and want ads. I talked to all my contacts here in Reno. “Do you know where I can get a job?” “Do you know of anyone hiring?” My only stipulation was it had to be part time because of school.

In only a few short days light came to the surface when Joy cashed in a tattoo coupon.  The purveyor of the shop said he knew someone looking to hire. I asked for what? He said moving man. I smiled, took his friends number, and gave them a ring.

The interview was a breeze and I was hired on the spot. I reported for work the next day. Now, I have been a moving man before. I’ve moved my family a few times, and I did a little side work when I was younger.  I figured it was like riding a bike.

tired guyAnd it was. My body was reminded very quickly how difficult the process is of moving heavy inanimate objects.  It shuddred when I saw the piano on the second floor with no elevator.  At the end of the day I had to lay in a hot tub as long as I could before passing out from exhasusation.

The next day was the same thing. My boss said she only had a few more moves on the books until her phone started ringing. I thought I could endure with only missing a few classes. Suddenly, she was calling me to do a move a day even on days when I had school. I told her I had school, but she must have forgotten that.  I began to seek work elsewhere.

When it comes to our wants such as a job, a significant other, or even lunch in order to make yourself happy it helps to be specific.  How else is the greater powers at be, like the job hunting gods, going to know what to help you find unless you get more specifc. Like for lunch you know that all you want is griled chicken on rye with cheddar cheese. The lunch gods send you a sign, in the form of a flyer or friend, and you find it. You procure your sandwich and lunch is a success.

When it comes to larger items in your life especially ones that aren’t necessarily tangent, like successful relationships, it helps to be more specific. Some of you like to expidite the process by simply saying “I want someone that makes me happy.” Or, “I want a job that I can make money at.”

Yet, this has untold consequences. You didn’t list how the other person is to make you happy, what thier personality should be like, what they should look like, or even what you would do to help make them happy. “Anything” is not a good answer that the relationships gods like to hear.  Cruel Irony generally befalls those who are not specific enough with their mates.  The same applies to jobs.

**************************************************************************cover1Woodchip of Wisdom: The fear of the beginning is over after the first step.

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood.

**************************************************************************

I made the mistake of not letting the all mighty job hunting gods know that i needed a job on specific days, making “X” number of dollars an hour, and not lifting pianos.

This change in tactics adds time. Very rarely can you make statements that specific without time being tacked on. It has been shown the more specific you are the longer you have to wait.  For example, a part time job working only Friday, Saturday, Sunday making at least ten dollars an hour that won’t call me in on the weekdays, and doesn’t require repetitive heavy lifting took me over a month to find. Fortunately, it was something I know, waiting tables.

If your job criteria requires a specific job title, like graphic designer, in a certain city, with necessary benefits, and a certain rate of pay then I’ve heard six months can be a short wait.

I don’t want you to think it was easy. I had to endure lean months and put Joy through some tough times. Maybe she’ll regale you in a later post.  The point is that positive relationships that will bring you what you want to have in your life, is going to take time. So, in the mean time refine your craft,  better yourself, and be specific.  From what I can gather it’s what you have to pay in order to earn the relationships in this world that are are worth it.

Like a pendulum that continues to swing you must know the hard dark side to better appreciate the softer light. 

Thanks for reading,
F.B.

 

 

 

Concert House Rocks: Brothers in Arms

high fivesThis is a post that is long overdue.  I have had the honor of working with a vast array of individuals in my time at the Concert House.  Some I only saw for three or four shows.  Others I have worked with for over a year.

Each of them has a different persona while working here whether they want to admit it or not.  It’s a coping mechanism to deal with the insane amount of psychological and physical pains we have to endure.

As you read about these different folks you may say, “We have one of those where I work.”  This list is not restricted to just the Concert House.  You will find personalites very similar to these in all walks of life.  However, there are one or two that are personality idiosyncrasies specifically tailored just for this job.

This is by no means a comprehensinve list, but these are some of the memorable folks I work with.

manical grinThe Animal:  This is the most enthusiastic employee you will ever work with.  They are never late. They are always smiling.  It would take the building falling down on their heads to get them into a bad mood, but if they ever do you know you just stay out of their way.

At the Concert House the animal wasn’t necessarily the tallest guy in the room, but he was the biggest. He was solid muscle and could always sniff out a fight.  An over abundance of testosterone would have him get even more excited about his job.  Because that meant he wasn’t going to be bored anymore. He was the front man into every brawl.  He would stick his nose into the fray even if there was no fray.

I heard a patron announce to another patron. “You got a problem with me.”  To which the animal replied, “NO, but you can have one with me.”  They will always need a handler, but once identified they will follow the handler into just about anything.

veteran warriorThe Veteran:  The person who has been at the job the longest will always receive this title.  They don’t have to be the person who has been at the company the longest though they usually are.  They will innatly take up a lead position whether they have been assigned it or not.  The veteran won’t necessarily take you under his wing, but they will tell you what you’re doing wrong.

At the Concert House our veteran had been doing security for over twelve years.  His first words to me  were “Don’t ever let them get me from behind.”  His sense of his surroundings was uncanny. When you didn’t think anything was wrong he knew there was.  He can find the smokers, dopers, the hot heads, and the idiots.  He takes great pleasure in pointing them out and then sending one of us in deal with the situation.

But when the occasion does arise that he has to get involved he learned long ago you don’t go in half way. He has no problem leaning all 300 plus pounds of himself into someone’s kidney with his knee. And he always gives the patrons an option. “You can either go home or you can go to jail.” Most just want to get him off of them and stagger home.

**************************************************************************cover1Woodchip of Wisdom: Though it may have run dry the “vessel” always stands ready to be filled up again.

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdomby Frederick and Joy Wood.

**************************************************************************

intimidatorThe Intimidator:  This person will rarely talk to anyone during work.  They are focused, stoic, and unresponsive to anything but immediate danger.  They will never abandon their post.  Dedication is the highest form of work ethic.

In the case of the Concert House the intimidator is the biggest guy on staff. He towers at six foot eight and tips the scales well over 300.  Another power house of muscle he makes sure to stay in constant shape by exercising regularly and sharpens his skills in his off time within mosh pits.  There are those that are stupid enough to attempt interaction with him.  All walk away trying to figure out what they did wrong.

His only weakness is women. Like most giants he has a soft spot for pretty things.  They can get him to smile, but it fades quickly as no one can know he’s actually a giant teddy bear off the clock.

devious faceThe Sneak:  This person is the master of flying under the radar.  Not just the company’s radar, but his co-worker’s, and the patrons around him.   I wish I could say I was this personality, but I’m too tall.  The sneak is usually someone much shorter than everyone else.  It is a honed ability that comes with the size.

At the Concert House he is the one who catches the most wrong doers.  They never see him coming and by the time they do he’s already signaled to the larger bouncers who needs to be dealt with.  Because of their shifty nature their loayalties are with only those that recognize what they’re good at and let them do it.

You can’t keep tabs on the sneak just know he’s out there doing his job looking for all the fringe benefits that come with working in a seedy Concert House.

mastermindThe Mastermind:  This person is usually the one that has worked at a company the longest.  Sometimes they have made it up to supervisor, or manager.  They know where ever hidey hold is located.  They know every step of the process from beginning to end and they know how to exploit the weaknesses that ever company has to offer.  They are a pro at distinguishing who is easily manipulated and who is to be fed to the wolves.

The mastermind only looks out for number one. He will step on everybody else to see his own ends met.  He is also, more often than not, a coward.  Not to say he won’t jump into a fight with you, but if there is a “bus” being driven right towards you he will push you into it to give himself a few extra seconds to jump out of the way.

At the Concert House the one thing the mastermind became the best at was finding money.  Not money laying on the ground, but hustling it out of patron’s hands. The patrons want to party. He knows this and just where to sneak them in while taking their money and putting it into his pocket.  Making sure the cameras and his superiors see nothing.

polite faceThe Face:  This person is usually the most friendly of the group. They are not necessarily as enthuasted about a place like the animal, but they do know how to suck it up, put on a smile, and make the patrons feel comfortable with their choice.

At the Concert House you will usually find this person at the door taking tickets.  They rip, greet, and open the door to help bring a sense of welcoming peace to the patrons as they enter. The Face is well aware of their mask and wears it well.  They know what patrons are looking for in a greeter and how to give it to them.  The Face much like the Mastermind are usually restricted to customer service oriented jobs.  Rarely will you find them in the land of the cubicles.  Their skills are not needed for those that spend hours a day behind a computer screen.

There are more that could be written about, the Suck up, the Chief, or even the Boss.  But those are the kind of people you don’t get to close to as they have to maintain their professional distance. Their characteristics are universal and I’m sure you have already formulated your own opinion about them.

It takes all kinds to form a team, but make sure you know who you’re dealing with or risk feeling their heel on your head. 

Thanks for stopping by the Concert
F.B.

Ellen Brock

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