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To INFINITY and beyond!!

Got to love Buzz Lightyear. But this time I am not talking Toy Story, I am talking focus. I know your mind races on an infinite journey to nowhere yet everywhere. Tapping back into my Shark Like Focus work again to give solutions for those moments when you cannot find your focus. Here is a simple solution to help you get your thoughts collected from the vast chaos flowing in your mind. It can be done in a variety of ways. You can even get creative after a while developing your own personal methods, the possibilities are endless or should I say… infinite. So, what is this magic which can help you focus?

Infinity sign      Yes, it is just that simple lazy 8 looking symbol. Ok, so I see puzzled faces. Drawing the infinity sign or a lazy 8 helps trigger balance in the brain by engaging both the left and right brain. There actually is a lot of information and scientific stuff on this but you can “Google that” if you want to know the in-depth details. You can air draw this sign. You can be extra creative and get your whole body in motion to do figure 8s. The best is when you are in a boring meeting and need a focus brain boost. You can use your fingers to draw it on the table top or you can get your pen and paper out and doodle them everywhere. Retracing the sign over and over has a meditative like effect on the brain. It is rather magic.

There is a certain path you need to follow to enhance the power of the 8. in the diagram below you see an X, that is the starting point. Move your pen, finger or whatever you choice to use, up towards the left to complete the first loop. Follow the arrow pattern to complete your first ….TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!!!

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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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Deadly Reaction

Pollen from a variety of common plants: sunflo...

Pollen from a variety of common plants: sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory Ipomoea purpurea, hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis). The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sad story hitting the news today about a young girl who died from a bite of Rice Krispy Treats which was made with peanut butter. She was highly allergic to peanuts. Though she spit it out the toxin had already worked its way into her system. She went in to shock and died. We are hearing more and more about severe allergic reaction yet people still doubt the validity of them.

For years I have suffered from extreme allergies. Mine are more environmental in nature often not known until I am exposed to a chemical or something like large qualities of  mold. There were bullies in the workplace who enjoy “testing” my allergic reactions. I was made fun of when I reacted. It was embarrassing and I had large medical bills as a result of their amusement. I did report but when you work for the government in some places it isn’t taken too seriously until it is almost too late. My health will never be the same because of the abuse I suffered via the exposure due to the bullies in the workplace. Nothing much I can do because if you speak with legal folks, allergies and mold exposure, even with documentation, is difficult to fight in court unless you die from an exposure.

I do not know the details of rescue procedures for the little girl. Never without my Epi Pen now. Often when in a strange place I will tell someone who is not familiar with me I have a pen and where it is. I  wear a bracelet letting people know if I do go down due to a reaction I have a pen and other important information. When it got life threatening I began to take it very seriously. When the establishment would not hold people accountable for harassment and exposure I realized my life was endangered. It was up to me to make sure I was always ready. In my 40’s it meant a bit more to me than when I was in my teens and 20’s. Guess we think we can live forever when we are so young we are often careless. Know many children and teens over the years who refused to carry an Epi pen. It was difficult to find one near when things happened such as a bee sting. Over the years I have preached awareness and being proactive in regard to allergies.

I am highly allergic to an odorless substance, It is commonly used in every household and business. I get very little warning before reactions start. Sometimes my inhaler is enough other times it progresses to an emergency run to the hospital. People often tell me, if you cannot smell it you cannot be allergic to it. SO WRONG! It kills insects so why would you think it might not have the power to kill a person? Someone did spray my car for reasons I will not go into now. You do not understand fear until the moment you realize you are driving and an allergic reaction starts. Then, you realize someone had to have done this to you all-knowing it could kill you. A weapon few think about and one most medical people would not think to note as a cause unless the person survived to say it had happened on a smaller scale before. Like a simple Rice Krispy Treat at a party, allergies can be lethal. There was no malicious intent at the party when the little girl happened to bite into a treat. But we should always be alert of the remote possibility it could happen to an older person. We try our best to avoid allergens. I have yet to meet someone who enjoys an Epi stick, rounds of steroids and breathing treatments. Some reactions can cause other issues in the body lasting more than a few days. My reactions go into serious lung problems lasting up to a week with a hospital stay. Allergens can be lethal. The result of an exposure for some cannot be reversed even with an Epi Pen.

You might think it rude but ask guest if they have any known allergies. If you use strong chemicals or cleaning products in your home, make guest aware. Strong perfumes and body sprays can also effect people with allergies. If someone tells you they are allergic to something you are wearing do not get upset with them. Please understand there is a difference in not liking a scent than being allergic to one. You might save a life just by telling what is in the food you prepared or sprayed in the air. Please be considerate of those who might need to leave or move to a different area due to allergies. Again, they are not being rude just trying to save their life.

Allergies are disabling in certain situations. It doesn’t make the person any less of a being. Allergy medications can make a person groggy or a bit light in the head in nature. Do not hold this against them. Without the medication there might not be a tomorrow. Be alert to the needs of others. If you have a friend or family member with allergies, be aggressive in scouting out potential hazards. You might just save a life.


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Cicada Reunion Time

Not sure how many folks know about the cicada. Every 13 to 17 years these bugs emerge from their underground dwellings to have a few weeks “sex fest” before dying off. An interesting life cycle when you think about it. It is estimated some trillion cicadas will emerge. It takes about 5 days of good weather, so says for the males to start their singing. If you have never heard a cicada sing… when thousands start their mating calls it will be a sound you will never forget.

Just some facts about these mysterious critters:
1. They do not bite. They may zoom around and dive bomb but they have no interest in you whatsoever.
2. They are not the biblical locust. Those were grasshoppers not these sex crazed critters.
3. They do not eat plants. They suck sap from trees. They also lay their eggs in them. Harm might come to some young trees but not to your plants.

Birds, cats, dogs, spiders, and snakes are known to enjoy dining upon these bugs. Remember, they are not poisonous so no worries about harming your pets. It is my understanding these critters are a rare delight to most animals.

After noting a post form a cousin on Facebook about hearing the songs of the cicada I began to think about their long dreaded return. Though no one understands their lengthy cycles, they are among one of those wonders some get the rare privilege to experience. Oh, I am not say I would delight in being caught in a situation with a trillion of these sex crazed critters buzzing around but just the thought that so many have lived quietly for so long growing in the trees and underground waiting for just the right time to appear is amazing. Ho many can say they have ever seen millions or billions of bugs in one place at one time? Guess it sounds more like a Stephen King moment. Can you imagine the aftermath of millions of dead cicadas? Oh, another unpleasant thought.

These rare oddities of nature are interesting to kids. If you live in one of the areas noted on the maps found on you might want to read up on the events. Some children might be afraid of the masses of bugs. Ease their fears and peak their interest in learning more about rare events. Granted bugs are not for everyone especially in great masses but to some it will be an experience of a life time to see. I know my son even at 24 would love to see such an incredible sight of billions of bugs. Some never out grow those childhood interest. Actually, we never should. Embrace the event with some caution and a lot of wonder. You never know how Mother Nature will react to what man is doing to the Earth. Such natural

Discarded cicada skin

Discarded cicada skin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

occurrences may never happen again due to the concrete surfaces entombing the larvae or the deforestation of their natural habitats cutting off their food supplies. Though scientists do not understand the reasons for their behavior once they are gone we might find out the negative impact of them not being around.

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