Why Saying “Calm Down!” Doesn’t Work

Have you ever seen someone doing what you consider “over-reacting”? You may have told them to “Calm down!”. This has happened to me. I don’t say “Calm Down!” because I know what effect that has on the person who is possibly over-reacting. I have been told to calm down when that was not going to happen.

If I see a danger you don’t see, and you tell me to “calm down”, I’m probably going to escalate, because obviously my original reaction was not strong enough to convey the clear and present danger I perceive.

It would be better, in my opinion, to say, “What is it?” Let the person tell you what has them so upset. Perhaps it is something they are over-reacting to, in which case, since it seems less stressful to you, you could handle for them. OR, it just may be that they see something you don’t see.


What Passes For The News

Emotional upheavals and gossip seem to pass for news today. You are more apt to read who thought what or did what or what they wore while they did it, than to read about anything that is actual news.

The younger generations don’t understand this. They think it’s normal.

They also think tearing down statutes that depict the country’s past, or deciding Columbus was a murderer, which is what I saw on a tee-shirt on the “news” today showed, is perfectly fine. There will be no learning from history for this group.

I’ve never seen such a sight as what this country has degenerated into.

We confuse feelings with facts. We try to make sure everyone everywhere is included in everything so that nothing is special anymore . .  . not even a boy’s trophy for excelling at sports – they ALL get a trophy. God forbid a child should cry today because his feelings are hurt.

I’ve said many times lately that all a country has to do to over-take the USA is to come over here and insult us to death.

Americans used to have tougher skins. We used to value what was best and reward achievement. Now? If you’re willing to go into deep, deep debt, anyone can get a college degree. You just will be poor for the rest of your life . . . but hey, what’s a little poverty between friends? We all are friends. We all like each other.

I wish the news would come back and be the news and not some gossip column folks who cannot spell and have no command of the English language choose to write.

You all do know other countries learn our language and they’d have no trouble coming over when we allow ourselves to get weak enough? Buckle up, Buttercups! You’re going to need to, if America doesn’t get her grit back.

When Your Adult Children Don’t “Get” Your Jokes Anymore

I am reaching the age now when I should be careful how I joke. I’ve always been told I have a great sense of humor and I know I have a dry wit. I’ve made jokes with my kids all their lives. Suddenly every joke I make is met with a look like they don’t realize it’s a JOKE, and they wonder if I know what I’m saying.

It started several years ago when I had a good job, but quit it to go to grad school. I had my children in my thirties so you do the math . . . about how old I was . . . when two of them came home from college for Christmas and I announced at the end of the school year (I was teaching) . . . in late May or early June, I was quitting my job, moving to the beach and going to grad school. Oh, the look that passed between those two college kids of mine was priceless. It got even worse when I said their baby brother was happy about it. . . yeah? Their baby brother was fifteen years old! What did he know? And there went that look again.

Well, I did quit my job, moved and had two of the best years of my life going to grad school full time and living at the beach. My baby boy and I both graduated the same year. Him from high school and me from UNCW. I didn’t think to notify the newspaper, but a few years later, I saw a story about a mother and son who had done basically the same thing – one graduated from high school while the other got a college degree the same year.

Tonight my oldest came by for a surprise visit. I didn’t even know she was in the area until I took the dog out and there was her car! Oh, what a nice surprise! We went out to dinner and as we left the restaurant and she began complaining about having to go to work tomorrow . . . I said for her to call her boss and tell him she’d come to see me and I was sick and she had to stay a day or two! She looked at me and said she’d need a doctor’s note. Well, I suggested Dr. Mike would be glad to write one. Oh, no . . . there went that look again. Dr. Mike is out vet. She told me that. With that look in her eyes, she said, “Mom, Dr. Mike is a veterinarian”. Yeah, I know that.

At a certain age, I guess the joking has to stop, but I don’t think I can quit kidding around with my adult children. I enjoy their company and when they’re around, I’m almost giddy.

My baby boy lives in China now. We skype from time to time. When I tell him about how his brothers are worried about my mental capacities, he said they’re worried about Alzheimers. Yeah? Well, that will bother them more than it bothers me. (I’ve helped care for an Alzheimers patient. She seemed far less concerned about her condition than her family was.) My youngest laughed when I told him that. Well, that time I wasn’t kidding.

I guess as long as I know they think I’ve lost my mind, it’s safe to say I haven’t.

Gossip Has Replaced News

Is it just me, or do headlines read more like gossip than news now? I get all sorts of info in my email. Here’s the one I just saw: “MSNCB Posts Disastrous Tweet About Aretha Franklin Attendees, Blatantly Removes Farrakhan from Image” Is that right up there with the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor? Or the twin towers falling? What does disastrous mean exactly? A tweet is disastrous? Aretha Franklin recently died. Between her funeral and John McCain’s funeral, America has about “funeraled out” for now.

Then there’s one about Trump tweeting after McCain’s funeral and how it’s causing social media to erupt . . . Gee, an eruption on social media is really going to affect my world . . .

Here’s an article about a woman who never fed her child sugar and how her child looks now . . . Ok, well, I consider sugar a “brain food” and if you deprive him/her of it, please let me administer an IQ test. Is anything scientific anymore, or do we run around like Chicken Little on a daily basis exploding about what someone said or tweeted or fed their kid or what Prince Harry has named his new dog? Where is the news? The Who, What, Where, When and Why info? that will affect my daily life?

Have they quit teaching journalism or article writing in college or high schools? I know they have this list of Common Core Objectives and I know from my teaching days that if a teacher is caught teaching anything NOT on the Common Core list, s/he can be immediately dismissed. Seems to me like we need to re-evaluate and probably re-write those Common Core Standards, or maybe, here’s a novel idea, trust that someone who has gone to college for FOUR YEARS and has an Education Degree knows something about teaching . . .

I have predicted for years that the Public School System in America is dying and within fifty years there will be no more public schools. . . I see teachers who last less than three years and a lot of it is because of all the pressure and hoops they still have to jump through after going to college for 4 years.

Don’t look at dinosaurs (what they call older teachers) like me . . . we know better than all this mess that’s being spouted as educational progress. Just read (or try to) the articles in the news now. You’d think you were back in Junior High . . . I guess that’s called Middle School now.

I can’t read this mess. Here’s a sample of today’s highlights:

“President Trump gets Mocked”

Queen Elizabeth goes to church with Prince Charles and Princess Anne”

“Actress Fatally Shot By Police”

“Meghan McCain said ugly things about President Trump while speaking at her father’s funeral”

This is not news. This is gossip.


How We Must Appear To God

While waiting for a haircut today, I sat near the window. I watched people rushing across the parking lot. They all looked preoccupied and in a hurry. Where was everyone going? Back to work? Off to lunch? Whatever places they were headed, none of them seemed happy to be on their way. If they looked discouraged and unhappy to me, how must they look to God?

I truly believe that each person born possesses a unique talent. Our time in school should be spent finding and nurturing that talent. Instead it is spent making sure we are all as alike as we can be and that no one gets left behind. This makes for frustrated, unhappy adults.

I’ve finally decided to embrace my retirement and enjoy this age. I believe I have a writing talent. I’ve written every day for most of my life. The amount of material I have already written and stored on this computer is astounding. If I were to attempt to publish all of it before I leave this earth, I don’t think that would be possible. My youngest son has said anything I don’t get published, he will publish when I’m gone . . . like Emily Dickinson’s sister did.

I think I was a good teacher. I enjoyed teaching, especially the early years. Lately teaching is so regulated that the creativity and joy has been sucked right out of it. I was sometimes criticized for not teaching the way they wanted everyone to teach, but I got better results and the children enjoyed their lessons. Perhaps it was good for me; perhaps God enjoyed peeking into my classroom, but some of the principals I worked for could not envision any way to teach, except the standard, state mandated, “best practices” they harped on. Some of the principals enjoyed my lessons. There was one principal who said she had no idea what I was doing, but to keep doing it because I was getting results.

Seriously, even in our chosen professions, must we all do the work the exact same way? I went back to school to get my Masters Degree when the principal I then worked for insisted every teacher do the same thing at the same time every day. She wanted all the classrooms for each grade level to flow when she did her morning  “walk thrus”. If First Grade Teacher A was reading a big book and she walked into First Grade Teacher B’s room, she wanted to see and hear the same big book being read. Uh, how about if one of the children had a question? Or a nose bleed? Or required attention . . . was I to keep on reading or what? I’m serious. Unless you’ve worked with twenty some six year old students daily, you have no idea what happens in the groups. I had to get out of what felt like a strait jacket job and do something else for awhile.

A few years later I was blessed with the most wonderful principal at the end of my teaching career. I had earned a Masters Degree in Reading Education by then. I had also been trained in Reading Recovery and taught that for three years. My final 4 1/2 years of teaching were spent working at a school as an Intervention Reading Teacher for Kindergarten and First Graders, and it was the happiest time in my working career. The standard teaching method when teaching Reading is to use the same book for a week stressing different concepts each day. I took notes on my small groups of students daily. I noticed as they read, what problems they had. I found a new book for the next day that had the kind of words in it they needed to work on. I did this for ten groups five days a week. I swapped books out and we enjoyed every day reading in my classroom.

While earning my Reading degree,  I’d also written two articles on teaching Reading. One of them called “The Classroom Read Aloud” had been accepted for publication by Teachers of Vision before I found my wonderful final teaching job. The other one, “How To Get Your Students To Write More”, was published a couple years later by the same magazine.

While I enjoyed teaching, I enjoyed writing more. I would come home and sit down and write, or I’d wake up early and write. I hope in retirement I can find publishers for all these manuscripts and poems.

I have a friend who makes the most beautiful baked goods I have ever seen. I’ve encouraged her to open a bakery. She could bake all day and make a fortune. I have another friend with a beautiful singing voice who trudges to work daily while ignoring her talent (“gift”).

I imagine all those people I saw who looked so unhappy crossing the parking lot this morning would have been glowing with happiness if they were using their God given gifts. It made me wonder how we appear to God? If we truly believe he provides and will provide for us, why don’t we use what he’s given us and quit working doing something we don’t enjoy, so we can make sure we provide for ourselves?



Be careful whom you compare yourself to. We all don’t start with the same deck of cards.

I was just looking at an origami bird and it reminded me of the time in Speech Class, my first semester in college, when we each had to stand up and show how to do something. I chose to show how to make an origami bird. I’d recently learned how and found it fascinating. What I didn’t realize is when I’m very nervous, my hands shake.

I was not in the same place as many of my college classsmates. I was on heavy financial aid getting no support from home. My background wasn’t that of being around college graduates or even knowing much about college. I was four years older than most of them, but I didn’t share that information. I felt ill at ease and out of place.

As I began folding the paper, my hands began to shake and I had trouble making the folds. I glanced at the class and they all were staring with blank looks on their faces. I looked over at the teacher and she was looking concerned, and disapproving. I didn’t think I’d ever get that bird made. I kept going. It seems like there was a time limit for the presentation and I was worried about meeting it. When I’m nervous, I tend to blurt out things I wouldn’t otherwise say. At one point when I almost dropped the bird, I exclaimed, “He’s going to fly away!” I got a C on that presentation. My overall grade for the course was a B+. I could not get the teacher to raise it to an A-. She reminded me of the bird making speech I’d given and gotten a C on. There was  no way she could give me anything higher than a B+.

I had similar problems in my music class. I had to put the needle on the record at a certain place and my hands shook so badly that I just dropped the needle. Miracuously it landed exactly where I needed it to land. After I was done with that presentation, the teacher asked the class what I could have done to help myself when and if my hands shook like that when I was teaching? He said to ask a child to come up and put the needle where it needed to go. I learned and remembered that children enjoy being part of what the teacher is doing and most will volunteer to come up front.

Really? Not me. I came from a poor background and often wore hand me down clothes. I walked to school every day while others got dropped off by parents. I could go on, but you get the point. My background did not include trying to be the center of attention. However, I had decided to become a teacher and that meant I had to learn how to get up in front of others and not be nervous.

Four years later, I was fine. Four years later I could have gotten up and made that bird while describing what I was doing with no shaking and no comments that were not a planned part of the presentation.

I chastised myself for years for not being like everyone else.  Now in my senior citizen state, I realize a lot of us didn’t start at the same beginning point as some of the others. We had things to learn that they learned as children.

I’ve gotten comfortable in my own skin. That is one of the joys of being a senior citizen. I know who I am. There is no need to compare myself to anyone because we have all lived different lives and we are who we are. Experiences and challenges have made us who we are.

Life is cruel when we compare ourselves to those who have had more advantages or easier lives. It is enough to know we’ve all made progress and things we could not do in the past, we can do now. We should compare ourselves to where we started in life. If we do, I imagine we will all be happy with how we turned out.

On Dying

I’ve had this thought swirling around in my head today. It’s the anniversary of my mother’s death. She died forty years ago today. It was a great loss in my life.

I’m a senior citizen now and people in my age bracket frequently think and talk about death.

What I’ve decided for me is, “The process of death will be a great ordeal, but the state of being dead will be a piece of cake.”