Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Does Age Really Matter?

I think we’ve all heard the expression that age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Everyday presents opportunities to live you life to the max, regardless of whether you are 5, 15, 55 or 95. Yet, the reality is that there are 90 year olds that live life more fully than a teen that is stuck on snapchat or instagram 24/7. So often we hear about the youth revolution that goes back to the 60’s but now I believe we’ve entered into the ‘Baby-Boomer’ jet setting retirement era. It’s amazing how someone like a Jimmy Carter or George Bush, both in their 90’s continue to impact the world, even as they have battled cancer or personal crises.

So why is it so difficult for life to be lived to the full regardless of whether we are young or a senior that is now able to get discounts? Sadly too often the young rush into being old and the old are fearful too often of purposely living out their 2nd childhood or career to shame their kids and grandkids. Who says that you have to be in the proverbial rocking chair watching Netflix instead of being outdoors walking, hiking or visiting the new aquarium or doing a road trip to San Diego to surf at Ocean Beach?

A couple of life lessons for all! First our seniors need to remember that they too were once young, foolish, ambitious and crazy so to give the up and coming generation some slack to realize, hopefully soon, that grandma or grandpa really are cool and do have incredible stories to share if you take the time to listen! I know that most youngsters have a difficult time listening or taking advice from anyone but especially older people. The perception is that old people are cranky and don’t care and that younger people are disrespectful and inconsiderate. Clearly there is a little bit of truth in both these statements.

The opportunity is to live life to the MAX regardless of whether you are 5 or 95! So it’s ok to play video games, do snapchat, rock in that chair outside or go climb a mountain. The choice is whether you make age an issue. Trust me I believe that the new 60 is really like being 40 again!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Whatever happened to the 3 R’s? (Reading, ritting and rithmatic)

Is it possible to graduate from high school, college or grad school and not be a reader? I totally applaud the push for STEM education and the need for our society to keep up with the technological craze.  Yet, the reality for most that graduate with that degree in science or even liberal studies degree is that your ability or desire to be a reader is clearly less then it was before the text, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or LinkedIn era.  I chuckle after watching a TED talk about how we learn and the evolution or de-evolution of education over the last century.

Is it possible that a one room classroom context from the 1900’s could be more effective at birthing a passion in students to be life long readers and learners that never settle for what they learned yesterday as being enough.  I will be the first to admit that I love being able to read on my Ipad with my Kindle App. It’s awesome to have a large library on my pad minus having a myriad of bookshelves in my office.

Yet, the personal struggle is that my grandson will grow up in in an era where reading is optional! It will be too easy to allow high tech toys to take the place of actual reading to him that would empower him to want to read with his grandparents or on his own. It’s too tempting to go online to fake it on a test and save time from having to read a 300-page book when I can look at a summary of a book in a few pages online. The excitement of having a book capture your imagination is less likely to happen when you can watch the movie on Netflix or go to an IMAX Theater.

I agree that we live in a crazy busy world where having the luxury to sit on your favorite chair or for me to be perched on my bed with my dogs is heaven isn’t going to happen for most people. Yet, the sad reality is that regardless of your family up rearing  bookstores and libraries could become a past tense phenom soon. So what has to happen in our culture to ensure the babies being raised today will actually hold a book in their hands or at least a tablet and actually read on their own as they grow up?

The tension is that our hobbies, i.e. sports addiction and social media craze, have replaced our interest in reading and even learning. The NFL season has become more sacred than taking your kid, dog or grandkid for a walk.  Sadly most spend more time texting than talking or reading.  

So how do you stretch your brain and rise above the temptations of sports and social media to become a life long learner that chooses to read?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The ultimate test = how I treat the people I don’t like.

We live in a world where the disparity between the elite and the average person is overwhelmingly huge! What should define a person? Is it their bank account, multiple degrees, fancy car, paid off mortgage, receiving the student of the month in 3rd grade or how we treat those we don’t especially like? The sad tragedy is that even after a day to remember the 9/11 terrorist attack I hear of a crazy person that attempted to set fire to a lady’s blouse in NYC. 

The term deplorable has been tossed around recently and the media is highlighting it as a way to view as inferior those we disagree with and it has become a form of self-expression to those that are proud of their stance that seem to promote racism, sexism and classism.  If this is the way that adults act or react to circumstances it shouldn’t be any surprise that the youth of today have serious issues with who to trust and is it possible to really listen to any adult or friend in today’s society?

As I reflect on a graphic that summarizes so well today’s edge we live around; “I care more about the people my students become then the scores on the tests they take!” Yet, the reality today is that a friend recently took the MCAT test is totally consumed with their test results. This individual isn’t listening to the advice of a few doctor friends that would echo it doesn’t matter which med school you attend or does it? I share this passion of most teachers that the biggest outcome of parenting, teaching or mentoring is to see an individual become a person who values character and integrity!

Over the last week it has been the average or normal person that has stepped up to restore my faith in God using the ordinary person to accomplish extraordinary things. It was a police officer that responded to a call to help a young teen that was being belligerent at a local library. This officer very easily could have called DCS and had this juvenile placed in an emergency shelter. Instead this officer drove this teen home and instead of reacting to their rudeness responded with understanding. It was just as amazing to hear a story about a local bus driver who is going the extra mile to help one of his young passengers not get kicked out of school again. This driver actually went out of his way to get info about this teen to help him deal better with discipline issues on his bus.

So what is the ultimate test in life? Doesn’t it really come back to how we treat those around us and even ourselves? Today as I drive around it will be so easy to get irritated with the person that is in such a rush that they pass me in a residential zone. I do have legit concerns about the way this person drives and potential accidents but the bigger issue is whether I care about enough to find out the why in another’s person’s life? Yes, the world is much bigger than my little bubble that too often consumes me to the point that I’m not able to look beyond a person’s circumstances to show kindness.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It’s about them not YOU!

What ever happened to the golden rule? It ought not be the one with the gold rules but do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.  It’s truly sad and tragic that our society has gone from being more focused on caring and helping instead of allowing the supposed super stars to get the spotlight where lies and empty rhetoric seem to reign. I can’t fathom the extent of the devastation of the recent flood in Louisiana, yet it would seem that the world is more interested in the escapades of a few drunk swimmers and an alleged trashed bathroom or the ongoing saga of presidential hopefuls where flip flops and pivots take center stage instead of showing compassion to earthquake victims.

As the school season begins across the country there are classrooms that are full of little kids that have the potential of shaping and changing the world around us! What or who will inspire them to pursue excellence and goodness instead of focusing on getting even when wronged or seeing race as the defining factor instead of character or integrity?

I’m humbled and taken back by the real example of Kayla Mueller who left the comfort and safety of home to give her life in a war torn country among refuges? How is it possible for someone to be willing to put their life on the line for the sake kids, teens and adults that are forgotten by most of the world? Kayla’s amazing story shows her boldness and courage to stand up against her extremist captors and show no fear even in the face of being tortured and ultimately giving her life to make a difference.

The question everyone faces each morning is what are you going to do today to make the world a better place? Clearly if my focus is strictly on myself, my goals, my ambitions and my betterment the end result will be a society that is consumed with narcissists whose path is ongoing hedonism.  I was recently listening to a dialogue among some college students that had worked with inner city youth over the summer. I was humbled to hear their stories and the ultimate focus is that our lives are about helping, loving and befriending our kids and not be consumed with the latest app for my iPhone or Droid.

It has to be about them, the kids that are forgotten, otherwise our world will put our energy into building walls and promoting racial and social injustice instead of a table where all of us can sit down together, share a meal and listen to one another!