Don’t Piss Off The Voices in Your Head

Moses heard The Voice, too.

Moses heard The Voice, too.

My students often ask me why I left a corporate job with a decent salary and the potential for more–things like bonuses, promotions–for teaching. I tell them, “It was The Voice.”

No one ever believes me, but this is a true story–I was sitting in my cube. A ray of light came through the window and hit my desk. Next, I heard a voice–an audible voice, a deep male voice saying, “You have to quit and teach.” I turned, looked for the source , a little taken off guard, as most people who hear The Voice tend to be. I simply said, “Oh.”

I wondered if Moses felt the same way talking to a flaming bush. In either case, he obeyed. So did I.

The next day, I applied to graduate school.

This was not my only encounter with The Voice.  I was driving the highway in Connecticut. I had transferred to an office down to the area where I was originally born. I kept meaning to spend more time with my aunts and uncles. I looked over to a billboard about diamonds–I don’t even own diamonds. The Voice spoke, “You should visit your family more. You haven’t used your time down here wisely.” The next day, I was in the process of being transferred across the state.

I often felt I should get the opinion of a well-trained professional on the issue of hearing voices that remind me of God in Monty Python. I’ve tried a hundred times to explain it away, but someone else told me a similar story once, “I was a Broadway actor. I became a doctor because I heard The Voice.” I felt a little less insane after that.

I’m sure there are some cognitive science people lurking in the background who can give  better insights behind this. The ray of sun that hit my window–that was because I was sitting by a window. It was sunny. Any moron can explain this. But “The Voice,” and the message–they’re too specific for me to explain away without a smart friend or a good priest/mystic. I’ve learned to just listen. It could be God. Maybe it’s my subconscious. Or perhaps I am, indeed, certifiable.

I think it’s common to fight with the messages that the subconscious gives. It’s an interesting phenomena. If I’m talking with a trusted friend, I almost always listen.  Yet I fail to obey the logic and reason of my own mind. It takes The Voice to snap me out and force me to tune in again. When it gets to that level of subconscious, I’ve ignored myself for far too long.

Listening is the biggest part of leadership, relationship building, teaching, policy…people charged with doing are the ones who must listen most. It’s one of the harder skills to learn, certainly for me. Sometimes, being aware can be the difference between making a critical decision correctly or missing the flags. It can also make the key difference in the lives of other people. I notice this in my relationships with my students. Sometimes, they’ll only be ready to tell me something important once. And if I’m not listening correctly, or if I miss the cues, the opportunity to make a big difference is gone.

So, I listen to The Voice, which is audible and clear. But more important, I listen to the whisper, which is often hard to hear.



Don’t Ban Dodgeball–Ban Life: Why Banning Everything Is Just Plain Silly

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 5.53.52 PM“Quick, come here,” my husband said. I thought there was an emergency.

“They’re banning dodgeball.”

“That’s not new,” I replied. “A school in Massachusetts did it last year or the year before. ‘Hurts self-esteem.'”

“No, they say it’s because of bullying,” he said.  I am struggling with this. I’m struggling with the resurgence of the attacks on dodgeball under the guise of bullying. We are going too far.

I struggle with banning dodgeball because I, myself, was bullied playing basketball. There were a couple of girls in particular who were very mean–always told me to get the water, advised me that I’d never get off the bench, and never ceased to find an opportunity to make me look bad in front of the team. No one has ever banned basketball. My self-esteem was deeply wounded, but I plugged on, learning valuable skills like dedication, team building, strategy, and empathy. My skills in coaching–and even teaching, I suspect–trace back to these episodes. I learned to keep moving forward in spite of obstacles, and I learned that it wasn’t the talent or the prodigy I wanted on my team or in my classroom–it was the plugger. The one who would do anything to succeed.

Maybe that approach was wrong. In retrospect, I should have started a campaign to ban basketball–being picked last, having to endure bullies, and having to get the water–all hurtful. And yet I played.

Better than banning basketball and dodgeball, I’m wondering if it might be more feasible to ban all situations where bullies lurk.

First off, I’d like to ban work. I’ve worked in several jobs in three careers and only one where there was no bully. In fact, adults in the world of work are some of the most vicious bullies around. The world of education is not excluded.

After we ban work, let’s ban all competitions where someone has the potential to be picked last or lose. The nerd always gets picked last, and that’s psychological bullying. Losing repetitively at athletics–that’s no good either. I’m not going to watch the beginning of The Bad News Bears anymore. All high school and college sports with cuts will be on my list have banned…anyone who has ever been cut from a team has felt the deep pain of cuts. Sometimes, they never recover.

If if the issue isn’t bullying but “unsafe sports” or “sports with human targets” we should eliminate baseball, most definitely. I’m trying to mentally count the number of balls and bats with which I’ve been hit as a batter and a catcher. If we ban sports where there is risk of injury, lets add on all martial arts, football, basketball, and soccer, too.. If we ban games that aren’t politically correct or hurt self-esteem, add chess to that list–how can we allow people to lose constantly while they are having their men killed? We have a zero-tolerance for violence–heck, my friend’s son got the Army men confiscated from his birthday cupcakes at school just the other day.

While we’re on the subject, I think dating should go–every second someone cooler than you is getting the girl or guy, and getting dumped hurts. It really affects self-esteem.

The bottom line?

Why this singling out of dodgeball under parameters that would ban most life activities were they applied equitably across the board?

I never stand for bullying, but if we ban every location and situation where we might be bullied the nation would shut down. If we really think this through, we’ll find that it’s our views on education, creating a positive climate, and encouraging a healthy competitive environment that must evolve. Banning things never teaches the true lessons that need to be taught. It’s the easy way out.

Let’s rethink–not only dodgeball–but how we approach creating a positive climate for ourselves, our students, and our communities. Let’s stop indicting our schools, because schools are not where the majority of bullies lie. They lie in life. If we ban everything, the bullies win. Let’s start with our own inner circles–work, families, communities, churches, and get rid of the word “bullying,” replacing it with “creating a positive climate.” If we do, I’ll bet we won’t need to ban dodgeball, basketball, chess, work, or any activity. We will be too focused on making the world a better place.


Carrying People Through The Sand

There is a story that runs over and over again in many different forms called “Footprints.” It’s about a person walking in the sand with God. You see the footprints. Two sets of footprints, and then, at times, just one.

Are you carrying others or being carried? Both are important.

Are you carrying others or being carried? Both are important.

The person laments to God, “God…these are the times in my life when things were most difficult. Why, ” he asks, “did you abandon me?”

God smiles. I imagine God smiling that sort of smile of love and amusement when someone has said something naive, bordering on stupid. “I didn’t,” God replies. “Those are the times in your life when you struggled. I carried you.”

We walk along the path of life, and we meet people. We connect. There is that moment of excitement–that period where we realize that our new friend is just the friend we needed. We exchange stories, plan activities, say, “Hey, me too!” a hundred times in deep conversation. We realize that through this connection, our world has changed in some way–sometimes radical, sometimes slight, but it has, indeed, changed. It’s “friend Christmas.”

We connect constantly–but we keep few. We gather an inner circle of people who together make, “the perfect friend.” We go to them for “their” things. We’d be fortunate enough to have one or two of these friends at any time. I look around. I realize I am lucky. In addition to my family, I have a compendium of others…my childhood friend, my sensitive friend, my friend of two decades who just sent me a photo, the friend who tells me I’m overqualified every time I discuss a career change, my girl-power friend, my “I can call you at 4AM” friend, my nothing-like-me friend from college, and some recent additions. Friend Christmas. I am blessed.

Once in a while, someone comes along that transforms the entire scope and sequence of our lives. I’ve had a couple of these, too. People who snuck up on me when I didn’t know I needed them. When I looked back, radical changes had taken place. Nothing would ever be the same.

We all have one or two of these people if we listen very closely. A mentor, a professor, a boss, a student. Someone who makes us see life very differently, through another lens–someone who changes our paradigm forever. I would like to think that maybe, if I live a good life, I have not only been the beneficiary of this magic, but I create this magic too.

I think “Wow, I’m glad I met this person. I am inspired. I have vision!” Sometimes I fail to see that on their road, and the roads of others, I serve the exact same purpose. I fill the holes, inspire, serve a need. And occasionally, I change a life that radically myself. It’s never all about me. I am this person, too. We are all this person. It is a blessing and a responsibility.

And so, I must say, “How has my life touched the lives of others?” Have I made a difference, even to those who my life has touched in the slightest measure?

We connect. And we fly.

We connect. And we fly.

In the geometry of life–in those paths that cross and intersect, those concentric circles enclosing those we touch–our acquaintances, our innermost friends, our families, and eventually ourselves–to whom we owe the most and rarely indulge–am I making a difference?

Today, I will do better by those who my life touches in the slightest measure, because I am grateful for those who have blessed mine. I want to be a better person, to have vision, to be the person I should be.

Touching lives is what teachers do every single day.

We smile, we give a kind word, and often we carry someone through the sand without them ever being aware. And a mediocre life becomes great. The challenge is this. I must always being aware, because I never know the moment when we change someone’s life forever. Sometimes, I never even find out.

[Images: and]


High School Loser Gets Second Crack at Prom

A fellow teacher tweeted that she had a great time prepping students for prom, and that she had a happy crew.

Prom. That magical time in high school when people without boyfriends get cast aside wondering whether or not to buy a dress. I wanted to skip it altogether. Eventually, I caved in to the peer pressure.

“You have to go,” they said. “You’ll regret it for the rest of your life!” 

That sounded serious. The rest of my life could be a long time. Or then again, I could get hit by a truck after my trig exam. I didn’t want to tempt fate, though–what if I did regret it for the rest of my life.  It was a distinct possibility.

I’d go alone. First off, no one asked me. Second, I was too proud to pretend that mattered. Resolved that I’d attend, I set about making the necessary logistical arrangements. I borrowed my dad’s car, the “Deer Slayer.” We called it the Deer slayer, because he killed some distant relative of Bambi, subsequently removing various sections of the car, like the right front quarter, which he deemed unnecessary to the operation of the motor vehicle. One fender and headlamp would suffice. There wasn’t a rear view mirror, either, but that didn’t matter, because it’s easy enough to turn one’s body around to see behind if necessary. How often should a person be driving backwards, anyway?

This was to be my chariot. Transportation issue settled, I said “yes” to another dateless friend or two, filling the car, then marched off to Salvation Army to procure my dress. I was a folk musician in training. People like me didn’t waste money on dresses. I would find a dress at the Salvation Army, that someone once loved and I would love again.

I found a light blue lace dress, guaranteed not to be duplicated by fifteen angry girls convinced they would have a runway debut at the prom. My dress was undoubtedly worn by someone in the late seventies. No one would be duplicating that haute couture.

I even agreed to get my hair done–it wouldn’t be until college that I could jump into a slinky black dress and do my own hair at a moment’s notice, preparing–properly–for a formal in style. I said one thing to the hairdresser, “Don’t give me poofy hair.” I wanted something folk-musician like. Instead, I got something 80’s metal band-worthy. She must have missed the “don’t.”

Prom tip: don't talk politics at prom.

Prom tip: don’t talk politics at prom.

The tables at the prom were all even numbers–designed for couples not dateless people. Even my best friends all had perfect sets of five couples at each table. Someone squeezed me in. Turned out one of the guys seated next to me liked serious politics. He was a six-foot senior in my gym class who always saved me from the volleyball. It was nice to discover he knew events on the world stage. I was unaware, however, that there is an unwritten code that intellectuals of opposite genders cannot exchange deep conversation at prom–every guy should be staring deep in the face of they girl they took, even if she was unprepared to discuss politics. This way, he would not confuse her with the fifteen other girls in the same dress.

He quickly got packed off somewhere else. I was alone again.

I was bored. I hated the food. Vegetarians are outcasts at events, unless the event is hosted a Hindu or Jew, both of whom feed us very well. At other places, we usually get a tomato roasted in glop or overboiled pasta like the banquet chef was presented with a mystery of the culinary universe he was unable to solve.

Eventually, I decided to cut my losses and drive Deer Slayer home through the pea soup fog leaving the 80’s romantic metal ballads to the perfectly matched couples with girls in identical dresses. I did not go to the beach afterparty. I went to bed and was up bright and early at work at 6 AM. It turned out I would not have regretted missing prom for the rest of my life. I would have preferred the extra hours of sleep.

I became a teacher so I could plan my own prom, erasing those memories forever.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 5.53.12 AMMy class council consisted of frequent fliers from detention. Instead of cutting classes, they could cut ribbons and bows for centerpieces.  We did this prom right.

We decorated, calligraphied name tags, and arranged seats like a wedding. I secretly procured tickets for those who couldn’t, and made sure the dateless wonders had the best seats in the house–I circulated like a hostess so they’d all be included. I even danced.

“Miss,” they said, “you really can’t dance.”

Which is true. I looked around, noticed the smiles, and thought to myself, “They will love tonight.” It’s been years since that prom. When I think of the essence of high school, it’s that event I remember. Mission Prom Redo–success.

The world of education is getting so serious. Testing this, benchmarks that. We must produce quality students. But as spring rolls around, I wish for something more. I hope students have memories that will last them forever alongside the skills that will carry them a lifetime. I want them to say, “I remember when,” and tell prom stories to their own kids.

That’s what high school is all about.

[Special thanks to Vicki Davis, the “Cool Cat Teacher” for dredging up my memories of prom. If you haven’t read her blog, do so. She’s cool. Which is how she got her name.]

[Image Credits: and Pretty in Pink–Paramount Studios]

Getting an Early Start on Common Cores Using The Economist

I am reading my son’s school newsletter. It does an excellent job discussing the Common Cores. I know this because I use Common Cores all day myself. The school is calling for a 50/50 balance of literary and informational text. I support this because I am a serious professional nerd.  Literacy’s important.  I’m tired of people who can’t read a basic newspaper–which the American press has kindly reduced to a fifth grade level. I hear soon they’ll only be featuring world leaders with two-syllable last names that at least 75% of the American public can pronounce. Netanyahu, Fernandez de Kirchner and Berdimuhamedow will be banned from print media. Unless we act now. To paraphrase my beloved Tolstoy, who never did write much informational text and is therefore O-U-T–out in favor of better things, “How much Seuss does a man need?”

Banned Books

Banned Books

In honor of the transition to informational text, we read Shel Silverstein for the last time last night. That’s about 25% too much poetry. We’re way off our targets here, which can only hurt down the road. I’m packing up that nonsense to unpack the Common Cores. We’ll use my Economist, Foreign Policy, and Mother Earth News.

When Declan was born, I used to read op eds from The Wall Street Journal and articles from Sports Illustrated. Babies love this as long as you read with the right enthusiasm. Stories like “doping,” “scandal,” “end of the economic world as we know it,” have far better hooks than Yurtle the Turtle. The life-long skills they produce are invaluable.

He can now read stock reports even if they go into negative numbers–he’s not just accessing the literacy Common Cores, we’re reinforcing numeracy as well. That’s important. High school kids have lost the skills of memorizing basic math facts, and many stare mystified at an analog clock like it came straight out of science fiction. Numeracy is critical as well. Unless you’re The Boss.

I tell my students that they’re right, math isn’t important if they want to work in my business, because if they can’t calculate their paycheck, I get to pay them whatever I want. Heck, I might even pay them in gum.

“How many sticks of gum do I get this week, boss?”

“Well, if your wage is five sticks an hour and you worked fifteen hours…how many sticks should you get?” I say chomping on a wad and blowing a bubble, having underpaid Math Deprived Employee by two sticks. AND slammed him with a word problem just to illustrate my superiority in the Common Cores.

Common Core approved informational texts

Common Core approved informational texts

All this gets back to why it’s never too early to start promoting high-level informational text literacy. My son won’t learn how to rhyme, but he’ll build a darned good chicken coop. The article has pictures, so he will have art appreciation, too.

You can never read too much instructional material on permaculture and composting. I’ve made plenty of Learnist boards on informational subjects–I’m going to make him read those and answer a set of Socratic style questions, which I’ll provide for his whole kindergarten class in a lecture on career development.

I’ve sold the Seuss, hidden the Harry Potter, and sent out the Silverstein. Go Dog Go is gone, dawg, gone. Today, we’re going to analyze The Economist’s “Rough Guide to Hell.” (pictured above). Then, I’ll plug Hell into my GPS for a geography lesson sneaking 21st century skills tech skills in, too. You guessed it, more Common Cores.

We’re keeping the Dino encyclopedia, even though dinos are dead. Dead doesn’t send a good message, “Work hard and you can be extinct.” “No matter what you do, a giant meteor may wipe you out.” But it’s instructional, he likes it. It sends a grave warning about global warming (Science Common Cores) in addition to having very big words (instructional text literacy), so it can stay.

It’s 5AM. Declan just waltzed into the living room, “Mommy, I can’t sleep.” I said, “Come on, let’s get started tackling these Common Cores.” He took Fluffy the Sheep and ran back to bed. Which is probably just as well. I want him well rested for when the learning begins.



Disney Training Course: Free System for the Next Hundred Readers

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.08.49 AMAll my friends go to Disney. I love Disney. I’ve been there several times. My parents did it right, though. They waited. I was nineteen.  I didn’t think I would enjoy a pilgrimage to see Mickey Mouse at nineteen. I was wrong. It was awesome.

There were a few things that could have made Disney better for me–there were a decided lack of lack of vegetarian options for food and snacking at the time, something I hear is much improved these days as vegetarianism is considered less a medical disorder and more of a lifestyle by the American mainstream.

As such, I was forced to consume an awful lot of those Mickey-ear ice cream bars from the vendors that seem to be near every hour-long line of screaming children. I have to give Walt credit, though. It was good training for my future of picking through salad plates and side dishes at each one of the fifty weddings in which I was destined to take part, and for my travels overseas in countries where they include vegetarianism on the list of medical ailments that can be cured with proper medical treatment or a little voodoo.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.07.36 AMEven though food options have improved, I’m going to wait before I go back. That is because I have a five-year old.

You’d think, “No, this is the perfect time to go–five-year old minds are ripe for the magic Walt Disney brought to America. Outside of the New York Yankees and maxed credit cards, there is nothing so American as Disney.”

I have a three or four sets of friends who go to Disney constantly. The first two have systems as to how to get the best deals and minute-to-minute plans as to when to sign up for food.  The third friend goes all out–he has a Disney concierge who does most of the legwork for him, both for regular Disney and the Disney cruise lines. He spares no luxury in his pursuit of the Big Mouse. They are on a first-name basis.

I see this a little differently–I don’t want to go with young kids. I am glad we went when we were older, the youngest among us being ten. My parents want to go down with all the grandchildren. That would mean, between my son and nephews, we’d have four kids ranging in age from 8 or 9 down to preschool.

Disney is equipped for these ages–vendors at every stop, an ice cream guy conveniently stationed at every long line, and stroller parking so that you can hold that little one in that one-hour line making the waiting also multitask as weight-lifting. Even Walt Disney knew you have to get in your exercise to be a healthy parent.

Going to Disney with little kids is sort of like taking coolant out of a reactor core. As the temperature rises, you get ever closer to the meltdown. This happens at Disney daily. That Magic Kingdom time each day when every little person forced out of a nap routine breaks down in an orchestrated symphony of whining and crying. Parents try to get through the line in which they had just invested some of the best years of their lives, or even worse–to push a little bit harder to squeeze in one more attraction.

This is why I am not going to Disney with kids until they complete my Disney Training Course. Today, I’m giving it out free, but after this, you can download it for $.99. I think a lot of parents will be interested in this foolproof method to get the most out of the Great American Vacation. Here are some highlights:

Chapter One: I set up concert-style ropes in the yard, winding around to simulate a quarter-mile line.

Chapter Two: Declan is required to wait in the line for a progressively increasing amount of time each day until he works his way up to six hours.

Chapter Three: In the last week of training, “Hell Week,” enticements are placed in various key locations around the line. Ice cream carts, balloon men, etc.

Chapter Four: He completes one of those intensive training sessions in line with other children at a temperature over one-hundred with humidity at 90%. Water is permitted for safety of all trainees.

Chapter Five: He finally succeeds in standing in the megaline without crying, whining, or saying “I’m bored” after getting recycled back to phase one just like a Marine in boot camp four times.

When all the children pass intensive course, they will be considered Disney certified. Not before. Then, we will get on a plane and visit the greatest heroes of all time. But by that time, I’ll probably have to train my grandchildren first.


[Image: and]

Rhode Island Culture Lesson 1: Giving–Good. Bribery–Bad.

In the blink of an eye, comes a new day.

It seems I have just put my head down upon the pillow, swirled some dreams around for a moment, and it’s time to start again.

Each day starts like this. Each day ends in the same way…so very quickly. Each holding its own promise, like a little gift waiting to be unwrapped.  When you get older, the pile decreases, so it’s important to treasure each gift. Savor and relish it–like the pile on a birthday or under the Christmas tree. You never know which one will be your last, and you don’t want it to be socks or loose leaf paper–you want it to be something cool. I always try to make the best of each moment. Sometimes I succeed.

GraftI had an important meeting. For once, I did not bring a gift. I always bring something, no matter where I go. This time, I left the homemade jam at home.  Once, I swiped a few jars off my homesteading shelf to serve as token thank-yous to the assistant who had done so much work with me.  She had horror written all over her face. Perhaps she was a diabetic, I thought. No. It was “a gift.”

In the private sector, she would have said “Thanks, you made that?” but in a public sphere, it could be a bribe–no different than Tony Soprano. Tomorrow’s headline, “hard-working assistant takes jar of jam from state employee. Sells out for a thousand calories.” It’s a real threat in these parts. Countless officials are discovered each year with envelopes bulging from their pockets–recently most of a city council. Usually, it’s an envelope, never “try my food.”

I felt ashamed of myself for the accidental near-bribe. How could I be so stupid and thoughtless? I’m self-aware now. I’ll try not to smile today, because I don’t want to delve into the grey area of nepotism either.

I live in Rhode Island and spent some time in Russia. “Gifts,” are how people got stuff done in The Day. I didn’t have to participate in this ritual, because I’m not that important, but I absorbed the understanding. You bring something that shows thoughtfulness and appreciation, as if you were going to a housewarming. If it’s too small, you clearly don’t have enough “appreciation.” If it’s too big, it’s definitely a bribe. “Me? Corrupt?” The insinuation is inconceivable. Doors slam. Even among the most honestly corrupt.

cannolisIn one of my past jobs, gifts were shady territory. The old-timers were accustomed to bottles and baskets of things at Christmas, but by the time I made my way into the sphere, most of that was gone in my industry—the perception of favoritism linked to overpayment was just too great a risk–people took that stuff seriously. Once or twice I missed a cue, and was educated by a friendly co-worker.

“Yeah, he doesn’t want to meet you to ‘discuss’ anything. That’s going to be a bribe.” I’d find a polite excuse to cancel the meeting and “discuss,” over the phone.

One day, however, I just couldn’t avoid a tough situation. I was working out-of-state near where my grandparents used to live—I smiled, recalling how they had taken me to this very bakery. I had a meeting with the owner.

I was shown into the back room. In that back room, there was a circular table–maybe five or six men in suits, some with their jackets off, others with their jackets on, all wearing suspenders with a few bulges on one side or the other, deep in conversation. I sized up the situation. I had interrupted an important “meeting.” The men looked up. No one appeared happy to see me. Thankfully, I knew the proper etiquette for handling such things. Be very polite and act dumb.

“Excuse me. Mr. X, I hate to interrupt—I’m here from The Company to resolve That Situation for you.” I’d interrupted something intense. This would take more than an “excuse me.” Being a girl, I would not end up like Spider on Goodfellas, but it’s always better to be polite.

“If I could just say one thing,” I continued. “I just moved back down to the area from Rhode Island. I was born here, and my grandparents lived down the street. They used to bring me in here when I was little. I haven’t been around in a very long time. I just wanted to say how much I love your establishment, and how many good memories it brings to meet you today.”

Perfect! Both true, and laden with “respect.” Respect is important. He cracked a smile.

“Christine!” he shouted. “Give her a tray of cannolis!”  I was dismissed from the group of gentlemen, all smiling, thinking of their grandparents and cannolis. They “God blessed” me and sent me on my way.

I took a large box from Christine, handing her a twenty.

“Oh, no,” she said, “I can’t take THAT,” she shook her hands back and forth, looking over her shoulder.

“It’s no trouble…” I said. “I’ll share these with the office.”

“He SAID to GIVE you the cannolis.” I tried to pay again. Her voice nearly trembled. I didn’t want her to end up like Spider on Goodfellas, so I accepted the cannolis with gratitude. We were both going to have a good day.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept a gift. I’ve read several articles on this subject, and it keeps coming up in discussions. I had a 4 AM one today. Giving is a hot topic these days–maybe people need to give more. Maybe it’s just that it’s tax season and we should be prepared to patriotically donate to our country. Perhaps, humanity is short of basic kindness. The research says that it is important to learn to give. For me, it’s always been more difficult to learn to receive. Giving’s been the easy part. Receiving is part of the process, too.

Not giving, as I will practice today, is nearly impossible. Funny how society can put negative perceptions on a basic human kindness.

Ultimately, though, each day is a gift–they come quicker as we get older, and there are fewer of them left. Unwrap each carefully, and savor it. Even if it’s socks or loose leaf.

[images: family and When Bribery Succeeds]