The Girl Scout Law: What it looks like in the grown up world

I have spent most of last week in training. During the last part of the week, I spent the majority of my time in a room with 70 other teachers, either new (like me!) or coming into the system. On Saturday, I spent the  my day in a Girl Scout training. In the afternoon, the highlight of my training was a conflict resolution class.

I was given a list of classes to choose from and I just thought this would fit me perfectly. After all, skills you learn at Girl Scouts never stay in Girl Scouts. I mean, that's the whole point of Girl Scouts!

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

We don't expect our girls to take what they learn and hold on it, never to use it. No! We expect them to take it out into the world as they grow to be courageous and confident women of character. But, in order to do that, we have to model that behavior (Do you see what I did there? Just throwing some educational jargon into the mix for your reading pleasure :) ).

And as such, as adult leaders, we need to take the Girl Scout Law to heart.
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
And because I work with Junior girls who learned the promise and the law in kindergarten, I don't typically break it down for my girls (or myself). However, during this workshop, we did. In fact, we focused on this, specifically:
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
I can tell you, for those that don't know me in person, when I think of myself, the last thing I think are words like "courageous" and "strong". And in conversations? Forgetaboutit.

I am the peace keeper. The non-confrontational person. I will do anything I can to make sure that everyone is happy - often at the expense of my happiness. I've gotten better as I've gotten older and entered into the work place, but I still find myself wearing my heart on my sleeve and getting my feelings hurt, easily.

And why do I get my feelings hurt so easily? I didn't know exactly. But I do now. In a nutshell, I read too much into things. If someone snaps at me, they must be mad at me. I never stop to consider they why behind the behavior (I can do it in the classroom all day long - with adults? Not so much.) It's actually a quite selfish approach, but I think it is the knee-jerk reaction that most of us resort to (especially us women). Instead,
...we need to slow down so we can calm down.
Our thought process actually goes through a series of steps so quickly that we tend to jump to conclusions and react, either with sadness or anger and react or withdraw. They call this process The Ladder of Inference.
Photo: Julio Munoz
To put this in layman's terms:
  1. Something happens
  2. You choose what facts/happenings to see
  3. You put meaning behind those facts/happenings based on your own experiences
  4. You come to your own conclusions
  5. Where you create your own personal truth
  6. And you act accordingly
What I found extremely interesting was the workshop after "the workshop" where we all sat around relating personal Girl Scout stories. While listening to everyone share, it dawned on all of us that "background knowledge" (educational term alert) shaped how we saw and reacted to the world around us.

Of course after realizing it, it makes so much sense now. And good teachers realize that their students come from a lot of diverse backgrounds. They're kids. We get it and most of the time, we don't take their actions personally. But adults? I don't think many of us actually "walk" in another person's shoes; and certainly not in the middle of a conversation that is getting heated and is not very productive. (Have we all been there or am I just journaling my words, here?)

I can attempt to walk in another person's shoes until I have callouses on my feet. It is not going to change the fact that we're coming from different places. I can't think my way into another person's shoes. I can generalize but that may backfire. Instead, we need to talk to each other. About everything. Even the really hard stuff. (The facilitator said there is a tendency to sweep the hard talks under the rug which, in the end,  only furthers resentment and frustration. The courageous thing to do is confront it and talk about it.)

What does this look like?
  1. In a conversation, a person says something to me in anger.
  2. I bite back a scathing retort.  No! Take a deep breath and instead...(see: respect myself and others)
  3. Restate what is said to you.
  4. This puts the "ball" in the other person's court (see: responsible for what I say and do)
  5. The person then has a chance to clarify what they meant (the hope here is to defuse the "heat" in the conversation and make it more productive)
Will this work all the time? No. There are difficult people in the world and there are just some people that, for whatever reason, you don't "mesh" well with. (Do you want to hear a secret? Most of the time, the things we don't like in other people, we don't like in ourselves. It's that whole mirror thing. Keep that in mind next time you think poisonous thoughts about someone.)

So, this Peace Keeper who tends to jump to conclusions (which remarkably, revolve almost entirely around me) has learned that she needs to slow down, not take things so personally, and genuinely converse with people. That includes doing more listening - real listening - and less talking.

Think about it...
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Untraceable: A Book Review

My aunt and uncle recently came for a visit. It was great seeing them after not seeing them for a very long time. We had a good time catching up and even went out for a celebratory lunch. Before she left, my aunt mentioned that now that I was a certified teacher, I could take advantage of Netgalley, a website which allows certified teachers and librarians to review books for free.

I had the opportunity to read my first review copy this weekend.

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes is a young adult suspense, thriller novel with a little bit of romance thrown in. The main character, 16 year old Grace Wells, has grown up at her father's side. As long as she was able to walk, she was following her dad through the woods of North Carolina, learning basic survival strategies. It's a good thing, too, because he's been missing for three months and the local Sheriff is about to close the case. But deep in her heart, Gracie knows that her dad is still alive. Her goal is to prove it - especially to those who have written her dad off as dead and her as crazy: her mother, her shrink, Mr. Head, and even her best friend/ex-boyfriend, Wyn. Along her way, she discovers a large bear poaching ring, hidden deep within the woods she calls home. Everything - and everyone - is not what it seems and it's up to Gracie to unravel the tied knots and make sense of it all.

Untraceable is a quick read - I was able to read it in a weekend (and I probably could have read it in a day if my Kindle battery wouldn't have died). The storyline was pretty good as was the dialogue. Occasionally, the dialogue would get a little choppy when a character would say a word or phrase, repeatedly, that jarred the nerves. There was mild language that got progressively worse as the book went on (but it's important to note that the language is  said mainly by adults, not teens. There is one instance where Gracie drops a phrase but it's very brief).

Until I asked for a review copy and did a little research, I did not know that Untraceable is a part of a series. As such, be expected to be dropped off, suddenly, at the end of the first book in the series. Not everything is tied together and solved. But this is good. Because truth be told, I want to read the second book in the series (the third book should be coming out this fall).

I'd definitely recommend this book for any teen (or parent!) as I feel, overall, the storyline is really, really good. There are no graphic sex scenes and aside from a total of about five curse words, the language is fine. There is violence (Hello? Bear poaching), but it overall, it wasn't anything that I feel was inappropriate. (There were a couple of scenes where Gracie is captured and beat, which might be upsetting to some readers).

Overall, I'm glad I was able to review Johannes' book. If I was browsing young adult books at the library, this book would have not only caught my eye, but made its way into my library tote.

As my daughter says: 4 out of 5 stars.

Until next time,

Pin It(Note: I received a free ebook copy of Untraceable in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own.)

How do I love thee, let me count the ways

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Confession (although I'm not Catholic). I've recently gone back to church. Before I went back to school, I had found a local church that I felt comfortable attending and dragging taking my kids to. But then I began to feel overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with the school work of my classes. Between working all day, doing the mom stuff, the wife stuff, and the school stuff, I looked forward to Family Day. (For as long as I can remember, Sundays have been Family Day. I think it started because The Man Beast worked six days a week and the one day he was off, Sunday, we all wanted to spend together.)

One thing led to another and I stopped going to church. At first, I'd miss a Sunday here and there. Oh, people always understood. I had a lot on my plate, after all. Eventually, those Sundays that I went to church came further and further apart until one day, I stopped going altogether. I promised myself that I'd go back to church after all this "stuff" was taken care of.

That "stuff" was "taken care of" six months ago.

I kept the promise to myself, but I feel like I had a lot of pushes from God in the form of friends and other well-meaning people. All I have to say is thank God for very stubborn friends in my life who never stop their pursuits. (I have one friend who has been praying for my family since we moved to this community seven years ago.)

I finally took my friend/neighbor/Spiritual Mother up on her offer and attended church for the first time in a very long time. And I'm glad to be back "in the house".

But a funny thing happens when you stop going to church. You get out of The Word, too (at least I did). I have not broken out my Bible in a good two years (probably closer to three). It's true! My Bible had dust on it that first Sunday I pulled it off the shelf to take to church with me.

I've been cracking my Bible more frequently (and not just on Sundays). I've recently started reading Bad News Religion: The Virus That Attacks God's Grace by Greg Albrecht. In it, Albrecht discusses that pretty much any religion that makes you jump through hoops to "earn" God's love (good graces, if you will) is bad news.

I've had many "aha" moments while reading the book, but something poignant struck me, recently, that I'd like to share if you'll humor me a bit.

We all know this verse (or have a least heard of it):
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
We get it, right? Love one another. Okay, sure. I love you. I LOVE you. I love YOU! Okay, done.

Did you know that there are two Greek words for the word "love" that are used frequently in the New Testament? Philia is brotherly love (Philadelphia - City of Brotherly Love - get it?) This type of love is earned. I love you because you are my friend and I like you and you like me. But the other Greek word, agape, means a fatherly-type of love. You don't deserve it. You haven't earned it. A mother loves her child because it is her child. Nothing more. Nothing less. I love you because you are.

This agape love is how God loves us. So, in turn, when He commands us to love one another as He has loved us - woah! - we are to love one another unconditionally.

Um. Ooops. I kind of missed that for the past ten to fifteen years of my Walk. Did you?

Instead of giving love freely, I have been condemning under the guise of love. Or, I've been loving those who are like me. Think like me. Act like me. Look like me.

I am very polite. I'm not rude. I'm not vulgar. I'm not hateful (most of the time). I'm not spiteful (most of the time). But I am not what you would call lovable toward my fellow man. Not everybody. How can I do that?!?

I think 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is an excellent start:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (The Message)

Until next time,

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It's a, more like an Iron Man competition

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I have shared on Facebook that after accepting the work challenge in April, I am ten pounds from my goal. One of the first things people want to know is how I did it. The second thing they want to know is how long it took.

Despite the fact that I've lost 25 lbs since April of this year, I have lost a total of 42 lbs. It has taken me over four years to do it.

It was not quick. There was no quick fix. No crash dieting. No diet pills. No surgery.

The weight loss was more than just weight loss. It was a process. A journey.

We want to lose weight because we're fat. Nobody really likes being fat. (I guess there is a small percentage that accept themselves as they are, but most of the time, those of us who are fat have associated health problems. For me, it was heart palpitations and overall energy loss.)

I started my journey four years ago using Sparkpeople and watching my fat and calories. I also exercised vigorously. I lost 40 lbs. Over the course of my career as a paraprofessional in the middle school, I slowly gained 30 of those pounds back. (Hey! Adaptive curriculum often means hands-on curriculum and life skills - cooking, anyone?)

Last summer, after we came back from a Girl Scout trip, I decided I was going to lose weight. I don't remember exactly how I came across the low carb lifestyle (in this case, Atkins), but I found it. I ordered my introduction kit, used some Swagbucks to order Dr. A's book, and I was off and running! I did well with it, losing 25 lbs in 10 weeks. Then school started and I kind of stopped doing the program. But overall, I maintained my weight loss.

Until I didn't.

Slowly, the pounds started creeping up. I tried, unsuccessfully to set a start date for January 1, 2013. I was going to do it this time!

Until I didn't.

It wasn't until I learned about the challenge at work that I decided I was going to get started again. I had to fork over some cash in order to participate. After being reduced to one income this year, that $10 is a big deal. (Many will probably wonder why I participated if I couldn't afford it. It was motivation. I think because it hurt so much to lose it, I was going to do everything I could to make sure I won the challenge.

Except I didn't.

But I did keep on with program and am successfully 10 lbs from goal. I have never been this far and my success wasn't overnight. I didn't even learn everything I needed to learn just by learning about the lifestyle. Instead, it was a mental journey. I had to learn what true hunger cues were. And yes, during the beginning of my journey, I weighed and measured everything. Now I know what a cup or a half a cup of something looks like. But at the beginning, I needed that support.

Willpower alone isn't enough to succeed. I had to control my hunger. The way I did that was to stop eating sugar and white carbs. This isn't necessarily an Atkins idea, but a general low-glycemic index idea (how much food spikes your blood sugar). Because my blood sugar isn't spiking, my hunger isn't getting out of control and it's much truer than it was when I was "carb crashing". As I put it on my Facebook page:
Do you want to know how I lost weight? Really lost weight? I controlled my hunger. The way I did that was to limit foods that would spike my blood sugar and cause a huge sugar crash a few minutes (or hours later). When your blood sugar spikes and then drops, you get intense hunger cravings. Your body typically doesn't crave veggies or a nice, juicy burger; it craves some bread or the fries. In other words, "a quick fix" - the quickest and easiest way for your body to snag some energy. This idea took me years to finally realize and even after I read about it, I still didn't fully swallow the idea (no pun intended). It wasn't until I actually followed the diet (and it's not one diet in particular), I controlled my hunger and my blood sugar spikes. For a chronic overeater, this was my magic pill. The only difference is, unlike a pill that causes you to lose weight - until you stop taking it, this "pill" is as easy as cutting out (or even cutting down) on the white carbs aka "the quick fix carbs". 
 So, there you have. I'm certainly not supposing one diet over another. I believe, ultimately, you have to use what works for you. But I will say there is some pretty heavy science behind this whole blood sugar spike. Yes, our body is always striving for equilibrium (and without it, we're dead - or diabetic), but I will leave you with one question:

How do you feel after eating certain foods:

  • donuts
  • bread
  • pasta
  • soda
Next time, really pay attention. You may find (as I did), that your body doesn't react well to these foods, and you might see improvements by cutting them out (or at least cutting down on them).

As I near my goal, I am striving for the 80/20 rule. I don't shun candy and sugar and white carbs completely. I do eat them. Occasionally. I know full well that they aren't the best choice for me, but I'm making a conscious choice to partake in these foods. The only difference between today and a year ago is that these foods don't make up the majority of my meals - proof (at least in my eyes), that you don't have to cut foods completely out of your diet to enjoy them. Just do not make them the staple of your diet.

I leave you with this article about food cravings.

Until next time,

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