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A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

If your life basket spilled out upon the ground, what would it say about your passions and your life? What do you see in this picture? Could you pick out the person from a group by looking at this picture? If you had to create a life picnic moment, what would be in your basket? IMG_0721

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The Positive Impact of The Theater

The arts are healing. They carry the power to influence within a safe environment without taking on a permanent change.

Theater allows words and action of situations to come to life for a brief moment. We get to glimpse into another world from the safe distance of our seats. We are not required to engage at the moment, just listen and watch. We are voyagers privy to a peak into lives and worlds beyond our own. We leave pondering what we have witnessed. Some words and action might impact our lives while others are lost in the mental files of our minds.

What does a theater program offer besides the pleasure of attending? Community and school theater programs offer the opportunity to explore emotions, places and lives not our own. Improv companies allow people to step outside their limited thinking to explore responses to touchy subjects and emotions via comedy. Theater offers opportunities to role play situations before they actually happen in our lives to develop a better understand of our own responses. In some ways, role playing can be an agent for change. We can “walk a mile in someone’s shoes” via the theater. We can step outside of our being to experience a life of pain and sorrow, joy and ridiculous antics, within a safety zone without worry we might be labeled.

A shy child can develop social skills from exposure to the theater. The theater enhances reading skills in dyslexic people. Proof of this? Look how many actors and actresses are coming out about their dyslexia. If you have a change, check out Henry Winkler’s life story dealing with his GIFT of dyslexia. Being involved in plays can help an angry child learn control by being involved in theater games to prep the mind. Theater which includes dancing and singing helps children and adults to develop coordination and lung development in asthmatics. Singing, dancing, and acting, known as the triple threat hosts so many benefits. Theater, beyond the stage has unlimited possibilities for positive outcomes  for business, life and relationships.

You do not have to be an actor to enjoy being involved in the theater. Creatives are what make the performers look good, especially if not the best on stage. Costume designers, set creators, lighting specialist, musicians, make-up artist, dance instructors, voice coaches, graphic designers, technical support, and stage managers can make or break a production. There is a place for everyone in the theater arts. You can learn the trades and ways while actively working on a performance.

Quiet artist come alive while exposed to the actors and others behind the scenes. Lots of laughs and tears to be shed. Lessons learned dealing with deadlines and those sorts called directors, are life long skills we all need. The plus in the theater it is short lived and you can move on all the wiser. I cannot begin to list all the benefits of being involved in the theater arts as a game changer in life.

Support the theater arts in your community and schools. Become involved with local productions. Go see professional productions to gain insight into other worlds an cultures as well as explore emotionally difficult situations from a safe distance. Just go and be involved any way you can.

 

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Fill the page… will you pass this challenge?

“Fill the page.” Those were the only words spoken by the professor in the first assignment in my first master’s class. In front of me was one of those manila drawing sheets of paper I remember so well from my elementary school years. Surrounding the paper were an assortment of creative goodies I was told I would need for the class. Of course being at artsy sort I went a wee bit over board. I had colored pencils, crayons, glue sticks and a bottle of glue, PostIt notes in assorted colors and patterns, a regular pencil. markers, and  my beloved gummed eraser. Oh. MY. GOSH. So many decisions and no clue what he wants!

If you asked a child back in 1968 to fill a manila sheet of paper, the child would not hesitate. In fact, the child might jump right to coloring and drawing before ever being told what to do. Creativity and excitement of the manila piece of paper and coloring tools was an invitation to indulge in a fantasy moment of wonder. Asking a child in 2015 to do the same assignment anxiety and an endless string of questions will flow. What happened over time?

It is a sad fact that individualism and creativity has been stifled. As adults we have become a society of pleasers, followers, and suck ups. Our ability to creative and dream without judgment or guidance is a thing of the past. And we wonder, why are so many people frustrated and cannot seem to make decisions.

Manila paper is a thing of the past. Very few adults and fewer children than in the past, have drawing tools such as crayons and markers. But you can draw  with anything, even a stick in the dirt if you must. I challenge you to “fill the page.” Discover what is hiding in that creative mind of yours that so wants to come out and play upon the paper. This is a wonderful exercise if you are at a roadblock in your job or life. It might help if you turn on some music to encourage your creativeness to flow upon the paper. You will never know until you try. Stop by the store and grab some crayons or markers. As an adult, there are no rules. You can even buy those scented ones if you want.

I would love to see your “fill the page” challenge results.

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Word Party

Was always a huge fan of word walls as a student. Despite what some might think there are times, mostly in school, I was at a loss for words. Word walls helped me to collect my thoughts to focus on the topic. I still use word walls. Now they say more about my feelings and direction I wish to focus on as I move forward. I metal mess cube sits upon my desk. It is filled with an assortment of magnetic words. I collect them. When I get stuck or hit a road block in thinking I start moving my words around the cube. One side might be negatives while another reflects my current state of mind yet another side filled with aspiring dreams and emotions I want to experience. There are endless possibilities of sorting through the words. It also frees my mind of actually stating the words I feel. Sometimes it is hard to say the words. It is so much easier to pick and chose them to create a visual which reflects that which I cannot admit or say out loud. There is power in the words, even unspoken onesword wall.

What would your word wall say about your thoughts?

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Paradiddle

Welcome back to Creative Tidal Wave! Lots of awesome things have transpired during the break. Cannot wait to blog about my adventures and new developments.

One of the oldest means of music and communication can be traced back to drumming. Recent studies have shown there are great benefits from listening and taking part in drum circles. Drumming effects alpha waves. Drumming is also an excellent group leadership and community uniting activity. The magic of a drum circle to unite bring all the participates in unison is a phenomenon worth experiencing. It is an ageless activity that people of all backgrounds and levels can take part in together to create one flow of positive energy.

This summer I reconnected with my drummer past. In high school, I was a mallet player on the drumline in the marching band. If you have never been around a high school drumline you may not be able to fully comprehend the magic that occurs when the drummers gather. It is a tribal inner connection which is brought about while drumming. It doesn’t matter which percussion instrument you play, it is being a part of the rhythm and beat created as a unit which brings upon the magical trance of the vibrations which radiate through out your body and soul. Yes, I guess one can say it is somewhat of a spiritual experience.

Over the past years I have experienced some trauma. I was aware there was some neurological damage which manifested on the left side of my body. Very slight but still I was aware something wasn’t right. It was very notable when I started back drumming. Over the past 4 months I have experienced a remarkable change. I do owe some of this to my fantastic drum instructor who has amazed me on inventing ways to work around some of my quirks. Working with the drums I have developed confidence, rehabbed my mind by rerouting the messed up wiring, and I have reset my inner rhythms. Now I cannot go very long without the need of chiming in by hand drumming various beats I hear in my every day life. This has been such a calming effect as well as one which has heightened my focus and awareness. The problems with my left hand are returning back to normal as well.

I was pondering what the outcome would be if drumming became a part of the school curriculum. I remembered back to my early childhood days when the arts especially music was a part of my weekly routine. Rhythm sticks, rhythm bands, listening to drum music and learning to tap out the beats, and the field trips to hear orchestras were all a part of my curriculum. In most schools today this doesn’t happen. I dug into more research to find early drumming experiences can have a positive effect on reading and behavior. Hmmm, could the solution to help struggling students be this simple?

Stay tuned to learn the secret of the paradiddle.

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Finland has figured it out!

The internet is busting with articles on Finnish schools. If you read a handful of them you quickly realize that the United States is clearly following the wrong path to success. In fact, it is such a vast difference in theory and practice it makes one wonder who is making the decisions about education in this country. It only makes sense we would seek top ranking educational countries and see what is directing their success.

What secret practices and expensive programs are causing such an uproar? Are you ready for this? You are not going to believe how simple the solutions are. In the USA we are all but cutting out recess but in Finland they have increased it to 75 minutes a day. Yes, you hear me right, 75 minutes of recess. Research shows this to be a key factor in reducing behavior problems and to increase focus. I just wonder why we find such a simple and cost effective solution not appropriate for our children. It gets better. The other secret is reduced homework. Younger students have little to no homework. Plus children do not start school until they are 7 years old. Makes you wonder if education in the USA is not government funded daycare starting some children as young as 3 years of age. Finnish schools are focused on cooperation not competition. Testing is not a focus like it is in the USA. Can you imagine the uproar of the testing folks if the USA dropped all the testing? People are earning billions of dollars off of tormenting children by high stakes testing. Personally, I think it is one of the largest rip off schemes around.

I urge you to investigate education from all over the globe. Things will not change here in the USA until parents and the public educate themselves on alternatives and start demanding change. As noted above, these changes would drastically reduce the cost of education. Behavior would improve as well as a reduction in ADHD medications use. Families would have less stress.

http://www.weareteachers.com/hot-topics/special-reports/teaching-around-the-world/finlands-a-plus-schools

 

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Over scheduled child

As a parent of two active children, I understand the meaning of being an over scheduled parent. It is difficult to work 40 to 50 hours a week coupled with the duties of being a mom. Add to the work and home chores are the weekly activities. In today’s society we have a driving need to make sure our children are involved in as many sports and arts activities as possible to give them the edge in their future endeavors. Sports are different when I was a kid in the 70’s. Some children practice daily for hours to become world-class athletes at the old age of 12. It is the same for children with music practicing recital pieces for hours on end mixed in with private lessons and group sessions. The pressure to be the best at the age of 8 or 9 years old did not exist some 40 years ago.

Olympians are getting younger. The need to lie about age is a constant reminder of the need to compete for extended years. The same is happening in little league. I have heard of children being put on strict diets to make weight requirements to play recreational league football and wrestling. It amazes me what parents will do in the name of sports and the ultimate glory to win it all.

I believe another term for this madness to push children has been called the “hurried child.” The constant push to excel at all cost has caused many children to lose the best years of their lives, the careless days of fun and exploration as a child. What happens when we take away childhood?

I have witnessed the result of such pressure on children. There is an increase in suicide in children/teens who feel they have failed to meet expectations. The disappointment from a parent who is constantly pushing a child beyond limits is resulting in more failures than wins can make a huge impact on the emotions of a child. Stress injuries are on the rise in children where it was rarely seen before. Some of these injuries are life altering or worse, life threatening. The absence of age appropriate interactions often affects how children deal with problems later in life. The emphasis on personal validation  wrapped around a trophy or rank can cause the inability to find happiness without competition.

Don’t take me wrong, it is good for children to be involved in competitive activities. It is very important to take part in team and group activities in moderation. More so, it is good to be able to balance school and other activities of interest. Colleges do look for future prospects who can maintain good grades while participating in a variety of activities. Success such as excelling in a sport or holding leadership positions builds character. There are those rare exceptional children who are gifted. But we must realize not every child is or can be made into a super star.

Childhood is a time to explore and not worry about the pressures of adulthood. It is a time to  test limits within the safety of supervision. A time to learn how to interact with others via unstructured but monitored gatherings. It is a time to dabble in a variety of interest  without the fear of failure. Children need lengthy down time moments.

A hurried or over scheduled child finds it difficult to handle down time. This includes the excessive gamer children who must always be hooked up to some sort of gaming system constantly. I do consider those in this category because gaming is another form of competition. Children also get wrapped up in winning via thumb-play as much as they do a highly competitive sport but without the physical training which includes fitness.  Those of you over 45 years of age will remember creating games and never having a problem finding something to do after school when you were finished with your homework. We never had excessive ball or piano practice. We had a great deal of outside play or finding fun things to do indoors. We did not need to be entertained at all, in fact we just wanted to be left alone to explore and create. We sought time to disappear to find treasures often getting in trouble for all the holes we dug in the neighbor’s yard. We tested out agility by climbing trees. We would swing on our swing set for hours. We painted masterpieces in mud on the driveway then made to hose them off. We were inventors, dreamers, and no doubt testing limits daily with bending the rules.

I urge you to allow for some unstructured time for your child. If you are the parent of a super athlete or artistically talented child who is involved in competition, please find time to allow your child to have extended breaks. Create a balance. Challenge yourself to revisit those carefree days. You might need to show your child how to build a fort out of sheets on a rainy day. How to make mud pies, win a snow ball fight or the skills in staying dry during  a water gun battle are all things children should experience.  Just make sure there is time for fun creative childhood memories.

Please share some of your best outrageous childhood adventures.

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Environmental Impacts or Simple Causes for Frustrations

You are dining in a popular restaurant around lunch time but during the time between Christmas and New Year’s. Just a meal with a friend but with some business talk on the side. You notice both of you are getting very frustrated. It has escalated. If you have a background in environmental impacts you might have caught it like I did before it became an indirect disturbing emotional moment. People often will lash out at another for no known cause other than something is irritating but not obvious. Let’s look at the environmental impacts which might be causing the disturbance resulting in irritation.

To the left is a table of ladies who are obviously celebrating a gathering to exchange holiday gifts or maybe a birthday. To the right is a bar full of gentleman who are obviously not on the job because they have definitely indulged a bit more than normal at 12:30pm. The noise level of these two groups is escalating. Surrounding you are parents and grandparents out with children who would have otherwise been in school at this time. Normally at this time of day you have your business lunch folks or those grabbing a bit on the job. Little marketing and business tricks, keep the place cool and the music fast paced so people move in and out quickly. This  strategy could be a bonus if you targeting the business folks. It is a psychological trick to get people to eat faster. Business lunch crowd needs to keep up a fast pace and music can definitively shape that behavior. So back to the trouble spots. Fast loud music means the partying groups are getting so loud it was hard to hear. Loud people laughing and doing what loud people do often can upset kids causing them to become more irritable.  Irritable children scream or cry which makes parents raise their voices. Do you see a  cycle here? The other folks elevate their voices to talk over the party folks, crying children and upset parents so the noise level is steadily increasing as more people dine. All folks get anxious thus causing them to get frustrated but never aware it is due the increase noise levels. Oh, and not to mention being cold. Must note that the temperature dropped a few hours earlier from a warm spring like temperature to now a nice polar breeze.

What could management do? Well, someone needs to always be aware of the public dynamics happening, it could influence your bottom line. Because this wasn’t the typical week day lunch crowd the atmosphere should have changed to a night-time one. Slower music does calm the savage beast or lunch party crowd goer. Raising the thermostat a few degrees to welcome folks out of the unexpected cold helps as well. Since the restaurant clearly was divided, place the happy party goers to the right and the lunch bunch even those with kids to the left. I am willing to bet there would be an increase in appetizers,  desserts, and drinks bought that day because folks would have been cozy and desire more food while socializing. A few tweaks would have made a big difference.

Awareness is the key. Have someone who has experience in environmental studies to come into your work place to see where small changes can be made to help improve sales, staff or client behavior, or deal with some frustration to which you haven’t been able to figure out the cause. You might be surprised what small changes can do.

Tomorrow I will address another example of environmental impacts at the work place.

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A Clue to the ADD Increase

Students in the incubation room at the Woodbin...

Students in the incubation room at the Woodbine Agricultural School, New Jersey (Photo credit: Center for Jewish History, NYC)

Before the 80’s students played outside not once but often twice a day. When I started teaching in 1986, I taught the last group of kindergarten students who took naps and had two mandatory playtime hours outside. Lunch time was also a period kids could talk and socialize but within limits. Foods were often fresh not processed or canned. Kids had cookies and cakes which they looked forward to. Music, art, and dance were often a part of the daily curriculum. Field trips were every other month to visit farms, museums or concerts. ALL student participated. All were expected to behave. If they did not it was never the teacher or someone else’s fault. Everyone was accountable for their own actions. There were holiday celebrations. There were days when the entire school would take part in field day or even a school wide movie treat. I remember seeing Disney’s “The Shaggy DA” on a huge movie screen via an old reel to reel projector.  I didn’t have to read 20 books or have perfect attendance. It was just a school wide treat for ALL. I never got plastic toys or stickers everyday. I did get those little foil stars. Boy, those were coveted. I do remember getting ice cream and occasionally a lollipop.

I do not remember classmates or parents cussing. I do not remember kids running around or yelling in the classroom. I do remember class bullies but those were taken care of quickly until the next year. I was certain bullies were empowered during the summer months and had to meet the “board of education” before Christmas to fix their attitudes. But we survived and learned how to deal with those types. I remember others who struggled. I remember the teachers working with those students and their parents never having to challenge or threaten the school. I remember teachers commanding respect and me very willing to give it because in many ways they showed us respect as well. I remember pranksters but never to the extent of causing harm to anyone. Many a few of us got embarrassed but we saw it once again as a lesson learned. I am certain I have no lasting scars from my formative school days. I have good and bad memories but nothing which altered my life to one of crime or disobedience.

I believe we became very successful in our own ways because we were allowed to explore and have time to “unwind.” We were not over scheduled or jetting off to tournaments across the state and region. We were not in everything to make sure we had skills above our developmental levels. We were allowed to be kids. We fell down and skinned our knees without causing a law suit. We fell off bikes without suing the company because the training wheel snapped off. We did witness accidents and learned. Not to be cruel but there is a circle of life we cannot challenge. Things happen even if you live in a bubble. Our parents didn’t shield us from such events. I attended funerals of friends who had unexplainable deaths. I visited friends in the hospital. My parents never hid the truth of what happened, it was a part of life. Maybe more so in my case because I grew up on a farm. I witnessed births and deaths. I loss my pets and had to deal with the fact that farm animals have a dual purpose in life. I will leave it at that. Pain, hunger, fear… all emotions and feelings I was allowed to feel. We all have a right to. The more we shield children from these the more tension and hostility can develop. What we do not understand can haunt us. I am not saying we needed all the dirty details. Children need to know what is age appropriate.

Today kids are rushed around. They are expected to achieve unbelievable feats often before their bodies or minds are ready to be fully aware. Technology is great but even the Wii doesn’t substitute for climbing trees and feeling the effects of gravity. A lesson learned by experience. Their lives mimic super adults or professional athletes. Did we really read 60 books a year? I haven’t noticed my performance being stunted because I got to choose my books from the library and write reports, not take a test to prove if I truly read it. Ok, I will make some folks mad but I believe Accelerated Reader and such programs are causing more harm than good. More so for kids with learning challenges. They just do not read as fast not to mention they hate it even more when being forced. Also there will always be great testers. It doesn’t motivate a challenged student seeing the same folks get prizes. That is another blog in itself.

What homeschooling and private schools have that the public schools do not is time. They allow students time to learn social skills. They allow for recess and organized activities which are necessary for growth. Life is not who can work the fastest math problem or can write the perfect essay as a goal for all. Progress will always happen even without test scores as predictors. Einstein, Graham Bell, Beethoven, and others would have never  accomplished what they did because they did not make the grade we assign now to measure success. What they did was to be inspired to dream and explore. They  played and lived even as adults during a time when it was still allowed.

Working with children and adults with ADHD,  I have found they accomplish more when they are allowed to move around. I do not limit them to a lead pencil. I let them read while under a table. They can listen to music while they study. And, some I take on a hike to discover wonders which inspire them to write or compose. I try to never miss an opportunity to teach-to-the-moment. I teach how I was taught. If we allow some wiggle room and some creative ways of tackling a problem be it math or writing I do believe we will start seeing less problems and more interest. All my opinion so don’t sue me for expressing so. But really, would you want a top scoring test taker or a person who can actually walk you through the process and make a discover while doing so to increase the performance of an assemble line?

Sadly, even the zoos are understanding and making changes. Caged animals are more difficult to deal with and are very unhealthy due to being kept in small quarters with limited interaction. Animals in their natural setting given challenges and stimulated, flourish and thrive. Don’t you think the same would be true of children and adults? Check the research about the bizarre behaviors of caged animals versus those in natural settings. You find some similar problems occurring in our schools. ADD/ ADHD symptoms and those of caged animals are…. well, you decide.

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Why are they looking at me that way?

There is nothing like a creative burst of energy. My attempt to clean the craft room/office space is never productive on the cleaning side but more so on the creative bursts of AH HA! Determined to get the place in order, I start with a plan then find something which leads to another something which never is cleaning. Thus the pattern as usual today led to not much headway in clearing a space but to an artsy moment. Not sure why I thought it would be different. Some might call it an ADD moment, I call it curiosity with a twist of imagination that gets peaked when I see a pile of stuff take on a new vision.

This got me wondering about all the sudden cases of ADHD. Are parents and teachers too quick to jump to the conclusion the impulsive and creative outburst are a negative? I was wondering what it would have been like to teach Robin Williams? Or maybe, Albert Einstein? Or how about, Mozart? You know they could not sit still for very long and often had such AH HA! moments at random when something triggered their creative minds. It is very hard to contain a great idea as an adult but as a child it just shoots out the mouth and hands at lightning speed. Then, I thought about how awesome it would have been to have had a whole class of AH HA! thinkers. The conversations and discoveries would be constant. The level of instruction would be wrapped around hands-on and discovery. What an awesome learning environment that would be! I guess Dr. Seuss dreamed of such when he started one of his last books, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! If you are a teacher or a parent of a child with ADHD I urge you to read this newly released book. I would like to thank Dr. Seuss’ wife for allowing Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith to add a few finishing touches so the story could be published. It will change the way you think about the current state of education and creativity in the classroom.

In my creative whirl wind I remembered I had to make a quick run to the store. I live in a very rural area which there is a certain protocol to life. As a rule, I do not come close to fitting in but try my best to contain my artsy ways as not to embarrass my family. While in the store I noticed I was getting some odd looks. In my twisted little mind I was thinking they hadn’t seen normal in a while. OH! that so backfired on me. Got home and had sneezing fit. Went to get tissue in the downstairs bathroom, looked up in the mirror… I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. You see, before I left I had found my glitter shimmer spray. Decided a certain mermaid needed some sparkle. I also experienced a sneezing fit shortly after grabbing tissue from the box on the craft table. One should not spray shimmer while listening to Savage Garden and dancing around the table without looking in a mirror before leaving the house. Seems the shimmer spray had gotten on the tissue which I blew my nose on. My nose was nicely coated with … if you are a Twilight fan you will understand when I say I was sporting a nice Cullen vampire shimmer when the sunlight hit my face. A mirror will be going up in the office/craft space with a huge note to please look before I escape the asylum to public places.

I will just claim a DIFFENDOOFER DAY! in the craft room and laugh this one off. Maybe, I should call it a Patch Adams sort of day. I do believe a shimmery nose is more fitting for me than a  big red clown nose. Despite a brief embarrassing moment I was unaware of at the time, I feel certain someone who saw me needed a laugh. Someone might have needed something to take their mind off a bad situation, and just maybe it inspired someone to have a creative moment of their own with a reminder to check a mirror before they head out in public view. Being impulsive has down moments but then again it has some magnificent ones.

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