Insight and Inspiration Processing the Death of President George H.W. Bush

The true test of a person’s impact is what mark they leave on history when they die.  The 41st President George H.W. Bush knew that and even answered accordingly in an interview I saw replayed.  The interviewer asked if he thought he was a good president.  He humbly replied that the historians will determine.  Jon Meachan, author of Bush Senior’s biography,  spoke at the State Funeral as if he ranked with the founding fathers like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.  But the truth is, each can believe what they want.  Was he a great leader or not?

I grew up fed on typical media spin with a dad who played too much golf after work and mother who felt she was a golf widow.  The arguing usurped family dinners over meaningful discussion of the news, politics, and what was being learned at school.  So I held the belief that Bush Sr. was a failure because he promised, “Read my lips.  No new taxes” and then proceeded to do to the very opposite.  But, I didn’t know the full story.   Thankfully Alan Simpson set the record straight in his eulogy yesterday. Click here for the full transcript.

Little did I know that George H.W. Bush knew very well what was going to happen to his popularity and political career by this tax increase.  I was fed a lie that I believed for way too many years.  I cried so hard during Bush Senior’s State Funeral because of it.  Another great leader who impacted the world through a humble life and meaningful death, Jesus Christ, is recorded in John 8:32 for pointing out truth is what empowers freedom.

The self-help literature and advocacy groups like NAMI are replete with how “stink’n think’n” fuels depression and anxiety.  It’s not a wonder I cried so hard while I watched the funeral.  My wrong thoughts about President Bush dominated my thinking for over 20 years during which I’ve struggled with many dips into depression fueled by anxiety.  There are many other lies I’ve ignorantly subscribed to that have contributed as well, but the power of uncovering this lie with the truth was encouraging and the tears that flowed healed.

Children are very literal and get hung up with rules.  This is sometimes referred to black and white thinking of which I refer to in Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo.  The immature don’t understand why someone changes their commitment.  They just take offense.  My daughter helped me to see this last night through an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.   She asked why Andy  Griffith had  changed what he had initially taught and was asking of his son.  Thankfully, the story continued as Andy lovingly lived out his explanation to the kids.

This vignette turned out to be very timely with the Bush Senior’s legacy issue. My 11 year old got the idea faster than Andy’s 8 year old.  It’s a gentle process of maturation which presents with other challenges.   In similar manner too many had been led astray by sound bites and political jabs to the defamation of Bush Senior’s reputation by this “but you said” mentality.

Another obstacle to growth is  how pain, suffering, problems, illness, and death are perceived.  These are inevitable experiences of life.  They aren’t something to completely fear and avoid.  Rather, they are powerful means to invite us to grow and to love.   George H.W. modeled this well.  When he asked, “Why me? Why was I spared?” He heard a very high calling to move on living for others and not just for self.  We need to grow up.  Whether George Herbert Walker Bush was one the the great presidents of the United States of America might be debated.  But doubting his maturity as a leader has very little evidence.

Now I move on to the message delivered by Rector Hollerith at the State Funeral.  His message made me recall a particular discussion that took place when I was visiting at a nearby church for a Wednesday night Bible Study. The passage covered was Romans 3:1-9. Two moving comments worthy of quoting were made. One man pointed out that the enemies of Jesus called him a “friend of sinners.” And then Brother Doug replied, “That’s right. We can be friends of sinners without being friendly with sin.”

Then conversation turned to why discussion of sin is so unacceptable in society. In many settings this conversation often turns to focusing on the sins of others and those condemn by us or a theological discourse on why non-believers can’t come to terms with their debased nature and need of a Savior.

Could it be the later shares a similarity with the inherent flaw in the first? Being that we ALL love to remain in our sin and blinded to its glaring reality?

The ruler of the world does have power and the culture in which he leads with is Humanism which denies the sinful debased nature of humans and focuses only on the good that we are capable of. (The philosophical system that inspires how American public and many private schools are run.)

So for those unbelievers out there, you know those open minded people when it comes to condoning other ideas, have you considered why it is so hard to be thoughtful of others when you are sick, tired, sleep deprived, cold, and/or stressed? Is it possible you are not as good as you think?

For you believers do you pray daily to your dear Lord asking him to be the light in your own dark heart and listen to him reveal to you where you are in error? Or do you just focus on the speck in your brother’s eye while continuing to hurt yourself and others with the log in your own? (Matthew 7:3-5) And then focus on how they have hurt you and caused you trouble? And then list of your “shopping list” or “honey do” of what you want God to do for you? Please be mindful that you may be praying out of unbelief or rather belief that its up to YOUR prayers and efforts to get God to hear you. You might be in more trouble than the unbelievers. At least they are up front and don’t claim to have faith in Christ.

Then I believe another factor plays in. Inherently, society whether it regards God or not, does call persons like Hitler evil and want justice served, not the forgiving grace that Jesus offers through his life, death, and resurrection. It also praises those who contribute self-less heroic work towards the common good. So now what?

I believe it is the WHOLE of the Bible that is the answer here, And the greatest problem is while there are Bibles everywhere and talked about, the bulk of the book isn’t read much less interpreted properly. Instead of being used to unite believers it is masterfully used by the wolves in sheep clothing who use it to divide us and to take our time, money, and to influence how we think and behave.

Ask yourself this, how do you react when someone points out that you fell short of something? If you deny it, minimize it, change the subject, excuse it (“If you only knew what I went through xyz…”), or worse yet flip it around to blame the other consider Proverbs chapter 9. Those behaviors describe fools, those who do not bow the knee to the lordship of the LORD.  The wise take to heart any correction. Their response is one of contrition, remorse, and changed behavior. These reactions describe the wise and they are synonymous with true believers throughout scripture.

The best and wisest instruction is usually called the greatest commandment: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength. It is also refer to as the Shema and consists of three paragraphs in Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Deuteronomy 11:13–21 and Numbers 15:37–41. Jesus quoted it as the masterful answer to enemies trap question on which was the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:34-39.

This is was the core message deliver yesterday at the The state funeral of President George H.W. Bush at the National Cathedral.  If you want to review or hear the message for yourself go to click here for my Facebook Page.

October 31st: What Holiday Do You Celebrate? Last Day of Bully Prevention Month, Reformation Day, or Halloween?

by Hope Mucklow

*Right click on words in green font to open a link in another tab to more information about it.  A left click will open the link and take you away from this tab.

ASF at Night

What a lovely evening I enjoyed on this park bench waiting for my daughter while she rehearsed for tech week in Alabama Dance Theater’s production of Dracula.  Several conversations ended up taking place here that led to my inspiration to write this particular blog.

One lovely talk with a mom revolved around our experience with ADT.  I pointed out how impressed I was with their encouragement that it wasn’t too late for my pre-teen  daughter to start ballet classes with them.  In fact one of the administrator of ADT  pointed out to me that it was ideal because she was now motivated (unlike when she was 4 years of age and dropped out of the community ballet class in Potomac, Maryland.)

I continued rambling on about how grateful I felt that her teacher encouraged my daughter to audition for Dracula and Mistletoe.  I envisioned my tween being rejected as her dancing ability is far below from the impressive dance company girls and professionals who will perform the lead roles.   Little did I think my Ballet I student would land a part as a Gypsy Villager which requires more acting than advanced ballet skills.

We chatted on about how great it is for our daughters to have such encouragement and experience.  So, I was surprised to listen to an upset dancer on the ride home.  Here some of her little or rather younger “Gypsy Children” that she works with sassed and mocked her for only being in Ballet I.

My first approach was to discuss how disrespectful our culture has become.  I pointed out what kind of humor dominates the most beloved cable children’s networks.  Then I pointed out that these children are much younger and therefore more immature than she.  It is childish behavior that is being exhibited and rendered at her expense.  I think this is why the expression “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” has been repeated so much over generations.  Children can and often behave very meanly towards one another.  Especially when they are hurting and it makes them feel better about themselves when they put another child down.

These two points nudged my daughter a little towards extending forgiveness and compassion towards her disrespectful gypsy children.  But still her wounds gaped open with pain.  I had to step into the “Mama Rojo” role from Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo.  I needed to strengthen the identity in my own child.  It had been insulted and it must be restored.  There’s something else that needed to be done.  I had to acknowledge that it is wrong how these children behaved towards her.  This is why Ruby Redfords poem, that clearly states that words can also hurt me might be a more useful and timely poem for us to recite to our children.

Too often we are afraid to call out inappropriate behavior.  Would it be because we’re afraid of being called a “Tattle Tale?”  First, I put it on her that she needed to go to one of the adults helping with the production.  Then it dawned on me… she came to me.  I’m an adult.  Do I have the courage to write about this in a blog and figure out a graceful way to handle this?  Well obviously, you’re reading what I decided to do.

In no way am I trying to pick on the children out who are mocking my daughter.  But I am capitalizing on using it as an example in order to encourage other parents out there who are reading this on what we can do in this age of out of control bullying and narcissistic culture.  So what?

There’s a plethora of discussion regarding the various types of abuse.  What I have come to believe is that emotional abuse, in particularly covert emotional abuse, is the most damaging.  Many support this idea in the current blog world, but it wasn’t until last week that I realized why.

It is all about getting the right diagnosis first in order to prescribe state of the art treatment.   It is well established that forgiveness is one of the key remedies for one to recover from a traumatic experience.  But one cannot forgive something if it’s never identified (covert) as being inappropriate behavior exhibited towards you.  At least in physical abuse the evidence is obvious it is not hidden and denied.  Likewise you can’t say, “no more” if the behaviors is mislabeled under the guise of love, care, or fun which abusers are masters at doing.  This is the first enlightening thought that came to me.  Re-establishing healthy relational boundaries is the other key ingredient to bouncing back from a negative situation.

If you consider the initial approach I took with my daughter I almost excused the behavior and turned the bullies into the victims, “Oh they must not feel good about themselves because of xyz.”  That might be true, but there’s a lot more that needs to be acknowledged.  While it may not be polite, appropriate, or much less needed to point out others flaws and weaknesses (which we all have), this should not be confused with speaking up for oneself when personal respect boundaries have been violated.  It needs to be called out for what it is: hurtful.  Anything that hurts another person’s identity is wrong.

The idea of  the need for strong healthy boundaries comes in with the other conversation I had on that park bench.  Most of the summer I passed by this exact spot with some fantastic parents of the orphan cast of Annie.  One of whom helped me to see that my latest author visit invitation (which I’ve not had since May) may not be in my best interest and really an unusual draw for them to attract people to come to their event who very well may not.

As much as I’d like to believe that people would flock to this particular venue because I was scheduled to be there, I’ve been at this long enough to know that most people don’t come to hear a lesser known author whether they’re local or not.  They might come to hear Brad Meltzner like my daughter and I did in Miami a few years ago, but even he only gets 30-50 people to show.  At least that’s what I experienced reading Rojo Read to Learn Ragged Anne

all around South Florida with the Read to Learn Books for Free Program.

Read to Learn Books for Free

Back to the park bench.  What I learned reading my emails was that my Annie orphan mom friend was right.  This author visit invitation was not at a good time.  I had expressed from the beginning that my daughter was scheduled for tech week prior to 4 performances the weekend they wanted to host me and it wasn’t a good time for me.  However, I reluctantly agreed because the owner insisted on November 3, 2108 and I had been feeling desperate for an opportunity to publicly read, sell, and sign my book.  I needed better boundaries and respect of my own family schedule.  Do you want to guess what the answer was when I offered to reschedule for one of their December venues?  Yup, “We’re sorry that won’t work.”  Did it hurt?  Yes, but not nearly as much as it would have if I hadn’t learned what I’m writing about.  And perhaps I created this rejection because of how long I took in finally mustering the courage to request rescheduling.

I don’t need to sell myself short in the hopes of an opportunity that probably isn’t going to come.  Folks may be going to the venue this weekend, but they’ll most likely choose to be entertained at the many other fun activities rather than slow and quiet down to hear a book read.  Watching pumpkins fired away and smashed into the field is what they’re going for.  And they most likely are going to spend their money on the admission fee and food, not my book.  It’s just reality which is why I groan anytime an excited individual has a story in mind that  want my advice on how to get published.  It’s really hard to get people to buy books these days, but its not to self-publish.  Most consumers would either rather push electronic buttons or they are already overwhelmed with stuff and don’t need to find space on their home to store another product.

So what does this story about me and the cancellation of the author visit have to do with my point?  I was not taught how to say, “no” as I child.  Rather I was taught to be co-dependent people pleaser.  Worse was I had created a deep seated value that I was honoring God in the name of loving others because of this teaching and inappropriate interpretation of Bible verses like I Corinithians 9:19-23.  I had confused Paul’s teaching that meant we should work hard to respect other’s differences so that we can to relate to them in their cultural/economic/sexual/racial context. It does not mean to  become a door mat to be abused.

I have also come to learn in my own odyssey of emotional healing and personal growth that healthy boundaries need to be taught to our youngsters as they are growing up.  We need to applaud them when they do it and gently correct their childish self-preserving response to do so in a respectful way.  Otherwise the natural reaction is to fight back which too often escalates the problem.  Then the kids get hung up on taking justice into their own hands.

One of the greatest and prevalent themes in the first 39 books of the Bible that consist of the Jewish Pentateuch, Prophets,  Psalms, Proverbs, and other poetry that Jesus affirmed to be worthy of study and teaching is that God will avenge his enemies.   It is to a believers honor to entrust that God will execute justice appropriately at the best time.  It is not for us to demand now.  Rather like Joseph (of which Dream Works produced Joseph King of Dreams) we can rise above negative experiences by trusting that they may be used to cultivate in each opportunities to grow and to mature in order to become a better blessing to others in the future.  That’s why Joseph in Genesis 50:19-21 assured his brothers that he would not repay their wickedness with punishment but rather he would continue to preserve their lives and many others.

Children have an innate pre-occupation with justice don’t they?  We hear them cry out, “It’s not fair!” Perhaps they need to be inspired by what I just said in order to let it go.  Otherwise if they hang on to the injustice it can fester to an emotional point that turns out to hurt themselves much worse than the original problem or offense.

We need to as parents, teachers, leaders and therapists to listen to our children or patients to guide them into healing ways that will restore their damaged identity.  Had I been feeling better about myself (respect), my book, writing,  and known how to set better boundaries, I would have stayed firm and declined the November 3rd invitation from the start.  That would have saved me the turmoil I went through every night of knowing it was too much, but not wanting to let go of the possibility that I might get my name out there, sells some books, and secure more author visits.  Likewise it would have save the owner and manager the aggravation about planning on having me and then my canceling.

So what is taught is very important because it leads to our values and ability to respond appropriately.  This is what brings me to reformation leader,  Martin Luther.

Martin Luther was very much concerned about the teachings that were going on in 1517 that affect his parishioners’ identities.  And he choose October 31st to set some boundaries about it making it know as Reformation Day .  I happen to share Peter Smith’s (his article is the link in green above) speculation about as to why Martin Luther choose this day.

The very phrase “Trick or Treating” implies manipulative bullying from a very selfish and rude stand point.  It feeds and grooms entitlement thinking.  (And then we wonder why it is so prevalent.)

So this October 31st my family will read more about Martin Luther’s brave move to take on Johann Tetzel’s manipulative message that bullied the common people of that day in the name of God, their deceased loved ones, and the church of the day .  And then discuss how we might better believe that whether you are big or small, black or white, you matter because God made you with dignity, honor, and purpose that is redeemed through one very popular historic individual who lived an amazing life and died in the place of your shortcomings, weakness, failures, and vulnerabilities.  He was called a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief because he took on all that pain that we struggle with in order to free us from how it binds us up to think poorly of ourselves and to succumb to believing unkind words about ourselves, to take personally disrespectful treatment, tolerate abusive working conditions, and therefore limp through life with depression and anxiety. Bully Prevention Coloring Sheets 2

So what will you celebrate this day?  Happy October 31st the last day of National Bully Prevention Month!

#Anti-bullying #Bullyproof #BullyPreventionMonth #abuse #covertemotionalabuse #emotionalboundaries #Healing #Depression #Anxiety #peoplepleaser #co-dependent  #recovery

National Bullying Prevention Month 2018

BullyPreventionMonthOctRojo

Click on the green font to download a complimentary blank copy of each coloring sheet to print and copy.  RojoWhether you are big or smallRojoWhether you are big or smallEspanol2

Secure a copy of Rojo at

Rojo the Baby Red Panda at the Zoo

Do you want some live inspiration?  Book Hope for an author visit for your class or youth group.  Click on the home tab for more ideas of what she can do with and for your students.  Local visits are just $150.00 which will be waved if your group buys 10 books.  Out of town visits may include travel expenses.

Inspiration from St. Patrick’s and Red Pandas

St. Patrick's day

What in the world do red pandas and St. Patrick have in common? Most people know very little accurate information about both.  And for me, both are inspirational figures that help me rise above the lowest common denominator of my debased nature.

The first similarity is that both are usually known by common pseudo names.  Firefox and Lesser Panda are often the names to describe the red pandas.   St. Patrick’s name originated at his birth was Maewyn Sucat, not Patrick.  He took on Patrick decades later when he trained in the Catholic Church in France to become a Bishop.  The second would be the inspiration that I derive from both.

St. Patrick was Roman British, not Irish.  He was born in an economically privileged home in Brittan, and some accounts report that he usually behaved as a spoiled one.  The nearest country neighbors were not friendly and the political envy and strife that describe many today rampantly prevailed in the hearts on both sides.

Supposedly,  Maewyn  behaved as the typical spoiled teen with little interest in moral much less faithful behavior and beliefs.  One day he was nearby waters that Irish raiding pirates sailed, landed, captured him, and took him back to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. The job he was enslaved to was shepherding.

The combination of the humility of slavery,  separation from all he knew,  and time alone out doors caring for the animals began to change him.   Teaching  received in his youth from his family and church began to speak to him in his heart.  But, first, his natural human response, is what he does…run away.

When the opportunity presented he escaped back to his home.  There he finished a formal education and felt called to enter the priesthood.  A dream convinced him that he was called to go back to minister to the Irish.   But, he was turned down many times by the church hierarchy.  However, this only burdened his heart more and compelled him to persevere.

Who would do this?  These people kidnapped him and sold him against his will and economic condition when he was just a teen boy.  Yet, he was a changed individual who now knew personally and experienced the love and forgiveness of his Creator through a Savior.  This is why.  Personally encounters with the living God requires a life change.  One can no longer live the status quo or clamber up the ranks of personal promotion.  Instead a life of humble service and courageous leadership ensues.

When St. Patrick taught the Irish, he did so through what was already known to them.  He took the elements of the pagan worship that had some truths, magnified those, and then gently corrected the flaws.  He used the nature around them to teach basic tenets of the Christian faith.  The one  most see marketed today is the 3 leaf clover of which he conveyed the unique godhead properties of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit yet being the same one true and living God.

It was this style of teaching that I see as similar with my writing and inspiration that I found through the red pandas.  So many metaphors of life came to me as I listened to the zoo visitors respond, “That’s not a panda, where are the pandas?”  It is through these literary associations that I compare the red pandas to giant pandas for little Rojo to work through her identity crisis that has spiraled her into an emotional pity party that if left unchecked by her mother will spiral into a full blown MDM (Major Depressive Episode).

Check one of them out further for yourself.  Rojo is available at Chattanooga Zoo, Zoo Miami, Books and Books, The Bookstore in the Grove, and at most online retailers including the publisher Mascot Books.

https://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick

https://www.ireland.com/en-us/articles/st-patricks-day/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI74eP8fDh2QIVgrjACh1EAwj0EAAYASAAEgJs8PD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

#St. Patrick #RedPandasandSt.Patrick’s Day #St. Patrick’s Day

How Herbie Saves The Day from Narcissism

I humbly reflected on my morning and questioned my manners. Had I spoken too much in that morning discussion at the adult class at church? Had I over posted live blogs on Face Book? Was I practicing what I had written in my last blog? My spirit convicted me. So I promised my daughter we would watch that DVD that we borrowed from the library later that evening (after I took a long winter’s nap).

As the time came to watch the DVD, the week ahead began to overwhelm me and tempted me to break my promise.  Movies take up so much time and we really need to keep working on organizing the attic.  Thankfully,  my daughter resisted the negotiated offer and insisted on the first deal.  So into our DVD player went Walt Disney Productions’ 1974 family comedy Herbie Rides Again.

What a delight the next 88 minutes became.  This story written by Gordon Buford and screen play by Bill Walsh offers more than foolish cheap laughs to distract you from your reality.  The “good guys” model four different inspirational ways to work together to fight the narcissist bully, Alonzo Hawk, acted by Keenan Wynon all in hilarious manner.  Each character, including Herbie, have a mind of their own and have something to inspire in each of us.

Ken Berry plays the part of Willoughby Whitfield.  He has recently finished law school and his overprotective mother sends him to visit his ever powerful uncle.  His timing fits perfectly into the greedy Mr. Hawk’s latest plot to get what he wants with no regard for the little old lady, Mrs. Steinmetz (acted by Helen Hayes). Willoughby, the naive young man, trusts his mother and the lies of family ties.  He quickly accepts the mission to convince Mrs. Steinmetz to persuade her to sign the papers and accept the payoff to abandon the historic firehouse where her belated husband led heroically during the San Francisco Fire.

Nicole, played by Stephanie Powers, a beautiful young single airline attendant wastes no time in defending Mrs. Steinmetz, who she calls Grandma,  from Mr. Hawk’s relentless attempts to knock down the historic firehouse by delivering a blow to Willoughby’s jaw.  But her violence accomplishes little except to instill fear into the recipient of her blow.

It wasn’t until Willoughby experienced a ride with Herbie that he came through to see the truth about his uncle.  He quickly resolved that even though it was his first professional assignment gained through beloved family ties that these were no excuse to follow through with such wickedness.  He wrote his first resignation letter and rehearsed how he would deliver it.   Willoughby, however  quickly surmised that confronting a narcissist will only hurt one further.  He also learned that not only did he need to cut ties with his uncle, but his mother as well in order to develop the hero inside and to live the adventurous life before him.

What endears me most about the film is Mrs. Steinmetz’s impeccable manners and unwavering courage to continue to fight for what is right.   As a elderly widow, she is the epitome of society’s label of insignificant, weak, and vulnerable.  Never once does she rely on Nicole or Willoughby to save her.  She has unwavering confidence in Herbie.  She models a faith that truly saves.

To add to this she has fun.  She never gives into self-pity or anxiety.  Instead she acts.

Mrs. Steinmetz earned the title of Grandma from Nicole because she treated her as the ideal one.  She took her in to live with her in the historic fire house when Nicole’s apartment was knocked down by Hawk.  She also ever so graciously corrects Nicole on her default method to defend her and self with violent force.

Grandma lives her belief that manners matter no matter what.   Her reply to the guards who were about to arrest them was that she wouldn’t put her hands up until they asked politely.  She always kept her composure and never gave way to panic, even in the end when Mr. Judson delivered the bad news that there was nothing else that could be done.

What I love about the film is there is a role model for each of us to emulate. There’s a young professional single woman, single man, a elderly widow, and widower.  The overcome the obstacles and never give into the bully.  They even devise a way to win the bully over.  But the sad reality  is they cannot reform the narcissist,  Hawk.

It would do us all well to maintain suspicion, guard, and doubt in regard to a narcissist’s positive change in behavior.  Unfortunately, the definition of such selfish abuser implies that they are only laying a trap again to catch their naive prey in repetitive cycle.  But that’s no excuse for us to stoop to their low level tactics and forget our manners.  Let’s inspire our children to be mindful of others and follow Mrs. Steinmetz’s lead.

Resources on dealing with narcissists and abusers:

https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/how-to-deal-with-a-narcissist-5-secrets-backed-by-research

https://cryingoutforjustice.com/

 

 

 

 

School Shootings, Safety Concerns, and What to Do About Them

by Hope Mucklow, blogger and author of Rojo, The Baby Panda at the Zoo

February 15, 2018, Jugal Patel complied some very disturbing numbers that more than 400 individuals have been shot in over 200 school shootings in an article published in The New York Times after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy this week in Parkland, Florida.

This is so tragic. Anyone who teaches public school understands more than the general public.  But the problem is even worse. Each and every day can be a war zone in our schools. The hostility, anger, disrespect, lack of motivation and pain of which these students attempt to learn in is rampant. Movies, video games, and certain music stars who glorify violence and killing have too powerful of an influence on many of the students. Guns are neutral. They are just the tool and scapegoat for a very deep societal problem. Yes, gun safety and responsibility should be a high priority, but let’s also focus on the underlying problems that lead to their misuse.

Too often reactions focus on blame, political issues, and trying to undo the horrid history.  May I suggest channeling energies on something else?  Instead of using a recent tragedy as fodder to support  political beliefs by arguing and fussing over a new law or cause, commit to focus on your local sphere of influence to make a difference.  This means healing your own personal issues so that you can respond better in each and every personal encounter you make.

That begins with reinstating basic manners like taking turns and listening respectfully to one another.

I wrote this poem for both my daughter and myself.  Birthing her surfaced all those life long hurts that still gaped open wide and therefore crippled my ability to truly love and teach her well.

I understood that my behavior communicated more to her than any of my didactic lecturing ever would.  Singing this poem (yes, I wrote a tune to accompany it) helped to calm both of us down in addition to reminding us  that which we needed to do.

Guns, social media, games, alcohol, drugs, smart phones etc. are all neutral.  It is how they are used that can be problematic.  Seriously, one can dredge up data on use of each mentioned on how much good they have accomplished.  Likewise history can be revisited on how fruitless instituted laws have been to curb harmful usage of each.

So before you jump on whatever side of the gun control debate that you believe it, spend time reflecting on how you handle your emotions, channel your energies, and spend your time.  Because you, yes you, a single individual make more of a difference than you may think.  Antoinette Tuff sure made a difference by talking a gun man into turning himself in to get help rather than to fire at the learning center that she works at.

Jordan Shapiro wrote an article The Truth About Parenting and Smartphones that exemplifies my point with cell phones.  I highly recommend reading it and considering all he has to say and how it pertains to this week’s news.

We all must chose what values we will subscribe to AND  live them accordingly.  There’s nothing worse than a preacher who doesn’t practice what he or she preaches.

If you are obsessed with your problems and needs, I’m sorry,  but you are contributing to the underlying problems behind the tragedies.  If you are willing to engage and care about others then you might make a positive difference.  There’s a classic world known book and popular man of history that has a lot to say about this.

Consider joining me in facing your life’s pain, healing, learning from it, and choosing to be content instead.  Find your favorite art form to convert those experiences into beauty that uplifts, encourages, and edifies rather than fussing and fuming.  There’s a time and place to address problems, but most are handling this week’s news poorly and could stand to consider my point.

Valentine’s Day Headaches and Solutions for Parents and Teachers

IMG_4673

In less than a week many parents and teachers will be scurrying about to ensure their child has a valentine for each student in their class.  Teachers lose another day of quality instruction as parties usually dictate the order of the day.  If they don’t the pupils squirm about in excitement and too often sugar load.

Some instructors and administrators have banned the tradition in order to facilitate test scores meet their competitive needs to secure funding and keep jobs.  Others know that Scrooge doesn’t accomplish that anyway, so you may as well allow the children to have fun.

Then the creative teacher finds a way to slip in that education through the fun.  I don’t have solutions that fit all grades, but here is one phonetic reading coloring sheet, RojoValentinesDay,  for 1st through 3rd.  And those of you that fall below or above these levels you can certainly modify my solution to meet your particular classroom needs.

Then comes the trouble of the valentines cards.  Some teachers send a list of names home ahead.  Others instruct the children to leave them nameless.  Here’s another idea that ensures no one is left out by common human error.  “To You”  My daughter concluded this as she prepared her valentines early this year.  She said, “Mommy,  being new I can’t remember everyone’s names much less spell them.”  Throw in a couple of extra “To You”s in case one gets lost or a new student shows up.  You can always keep the extras for next year if you need.

Teachers, consider restricting the valentines to just paper cards.  No candy or gifts permitted.  Why?  It becomes a who gave what competition and then children go home with more candy than any human body (much less child) should process.  It also makes children who give a plain valentine remember that maybe their in a different economic class than the others and possibly  artificially puffs up the ones who’s parents paid for the over the top valentines.

Offer one reasonable snack that has some nutritional value to it like a cookie, brownie, cupcake, or cake instead of candy.  Candy is just pure sugar.  If one has a parent who will offer an attractive strawberry or fruit/vegetable snack, that’s even better.

Another thought I’d like to propose is to consider fostering a love for reading over eating.  I realize I’m an author and learning nerd to start out with, but my daughter truly values a good book over any food treat.  I quantify “good” book because I believe there’s a lot of trash to be read out there.  Children need to be feed good ideas just like they need to be feed food.   Life experience will dish out enough dark over time, so take time to see what they are reading and make sure it’s full of inspiration to grow well.

There are a plethora of wonderful children’s books that writers of the past and present have written.   Of course I’m promoting my own, Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo, but I really hoping to influence for much more.  I’m promoting my fellow colleagues that I’ve met along the way like books by Anita Sax,  Kat MagnoliBrad Meltzer, and Karen Kilpatrick.  None of who paid for me to mention their names and only one of can count on his book writing to make a living.  (btw: did you know most of the book promotions you hear about are paid ones? It’s very tough business.)

Then there are just loads of favorites that I’ve encountered and read to my daughter like The Adam Racoon series by Glen Keane, You are Special series by Max Lucado,  Bernard Waber‘s  Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,  and Dr. Seuss’s deeper picture books like Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories.  

As I wrap up may I emphasize that this holiday of “love” out to be an opportunity to display it?  And the kind of love I’m talking about is respect.  Respect yourself to set reasonable mannerly limits with others and respect others by listening with empathy and a willingness to learn why they may feel and behave the way they do.  Then the world might become a better place for all.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

MLK Jr. Holiday Weekend

Many of you look forward to a 3 day weekend today.  Martin Luther King Jr. is the name of the individual who’s on this holiday.  He led a great movement.  But he wasn’t the only one. I challenge you to do your own little history reading this weekend. You decide and think for yourself. Don’t just let the media report on it and influence you.  If you can visit a nearby museum to remember, learn more, and reflect. My personal favorite is The Freedom Riders Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.

If nothing else, reflect on your character and MLK Jr.’s words, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Will you too join in with the courage that the Freedom Riders did? Click on the green RojoMLKJRrDay  link below to down load a blank copy of the coloring sheet shown.  https://redpandanetwork.org/red-panda-wisdom-from-a-cub-called-rojo/

RojoMLKJrDay MLK Jr day

 

 

Truth, Family, and Super Heroes

Woman, Gal Gadot, starts out the Warner Brothers 2017 film directed by Patty Jenkins pondering her life lessons. She profoundly states, “What one does when faced with the truth is more difficult than you think.”

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The first prominent figure in her life, her mother is the first to struggle with this.  Hippolyta does a great job teaching Diana, “Fighting does not make you a hero.” And explaining, “Why war is nothing to hope for.”  But she struggles in what most parent do: preparing their beloved children for the worst this world has to offer, letting them go to experience it, and becoming who they are destined to become.

Antiope, Hipployta’s sister, however, isn’t afraid of these.  Rather, this best warrior of the Amazon’s is true to her title.  She doesn’t cower of the worst and believes the best way to deal with it is to face it and to prepare for it. Since Hipployta refuses to agree, Antiope trains Diana in secret.  Antiope knows she is right and accepts no shame for her decision when Hipployta confronts her after finding them training.  She successfully convinces Hipployta that its best to prepare Diana and finally receives her blessings to continue.

But Hipployta still desires to hide and protect Diana when Captain Trevor’s arrival disrupts their peace and Diana feels called to go with him.  At first Diana complies, but she had spoken with Steve Trevor.  He shared that his dad said, “When you see something wrong in the world you can either do something or nothing.”  He had tried nothing and it didn’t work, so he had to go back and try.

That profound statement and conviction had to grip Diana.  She grew up believing her mother’s tale that she and the other Amazons were created to protect mankind.  This purpose far surpassed the selfishness of living on Paradise Island problem free. So she resolved, “I am willing to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.  So by night she scaled the tower wall, secured her divine provisions for battle, recruits Steve, and made way to leave.

Hippolyta with full guard on horseback approached Diana and Steve on the beach.  But this time instead of forcing Diana to return to the palace she laid the guilt trip on her that she couldn’t stop her and that she was breaking her heart.

Guilt trips manipulate so many.  And parents are some of the experts at laying them.  Thankfully for Diana, she chose to leave with the consequence of never returning.  But too many never find such courage and continue to stay close to mama.

Diana went on to experience the conflict her mother tried to protect her from.  She learned that men are easily corrupted and that they often fight without honor.  That they can incite “an endless war where men would destroy themselves. ” But she also learned that “it’s not about what one deserves.  It’s about what one believes.” She concludes, “But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light and learned that inside everyone of them there will always be both.  A choice that each must make for themselves something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know only love can save the world.”  Love, not guilt, fear, or justice is what saves.  What do you believe? What choices are you making?

Hope Mucklow is the author of Rojo The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo, a Children’s Illustrated book for kids and adults. https://redpandanetwork.org/red-panda-wisdom-from-a-cub-called-rojo/