Gotta Do It.

Good thoughts will produce good actions and bad thoughts will produce bad actions. Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love. ~Buddha

 

“They” say write what you know. I will add—write what you don’t know, but desire to know. I also say, write what you experience. This is what I do here at The Soul Reporter, and specifically I am going to begin to focus in on what I experience day-to-day—somewhat of a new focus here at The Soul Reporter. 

Daily, I am with kids (our future)—middle-schoolers—my own and the ones I work with who have been labeled by the education system with various learning disabilities and also EBD (emotional/behavioral disorder).

I remember our daughter, Lilli’s third grade teacher telling us she wasn’t reading like the other children. I recall the day I sat in a room with teachers, psychologists and specialists telling me she had a learning disability (unspecified).

Tonight at dinner, Lilli told me a special ed teacher pulled out a group of kids to take a test in Social Studies. Lilli said, “And I wasn’t one of them.” It’s been a long road. Lilli now only qualifies for special education for math (frankly, at 41 I would qualify for this too). However, we aren’t out of the woods yet.

At Lilli’s last IEP (individualized education plan) meeting where she was reevaluated for services, they tested her to see if she qualified for the EBD label. She didn’t, and had she I would have protested. “They” tell you this label will allow the educators to take better care of the child’s needs. Although their intentions may be in the right place, I have seen this label also mean it is the beginning of the educational system giving up on that student.

The issue with this is many of the kids are already giving up on themselves. And, so I don’t get burnt out and give up on them, which I run the risk of daily, I am going to use this blog as an outlet and my hope it might become a resource for others. Therefore, to begin here is what I discovered today:

We must build—in small ways—toward courage, wisdom & greater self-esteem.

I worry about the kids I see who walk out of class and wander the halls. I worry about my own who asks to stay home at least once a week and skips gym class. There was a time I still worried about my own adolescent self as an adult, having constant dreams about trying to get to class but not being able to. I skipped most of high school. I hung out at Burger King, in cars or the grocery store—anywhere but class.

It remains one my greater regrets. It seems almost impossible to have a 13-year old care they will regret skipping class someday. And sometimes I hope they do regret it. If they regret, it means there has been a shift in consciousness for them. If they don’t regret it, to me it means they are still lingering in old patterns. For me, skipping class was a pattern of not showing up I worked on every day I didn’t show up. Everyday, I also told myself the next day I would show up, but I rarely did.  I get that math and science and other subjects seem like a big waste of time, and maybe they are. But, showing up is a good practice, which can begin in school.  To show up is a discipline that is needed to build character, courage, wisdom and greater self-image.

It is why I use the quote from Buddha above. The bad thoughts we have about ourselves as teenagers can be so severe our actions make us hide and act out negatively. This, when practiced continuously will weave us into a life we may or may not get out of. I did. I went onto college. Not necessarily for the degree, although it helped me get my current job, but to show myself I could do well in school.  I made the B honor roll every semeseter. I showed myself I wasn’t dumb. I learned my issue wasn’t brain power, it was a lack of using my inner power.

It helps me to relate to the kids in this way—to see they lack confidence. Because this seems like something, which can be worked with. For instance, Lill still asks me to order for her at restuarants. She lacks the confidence to look the waitress in her eye and tell her what she wants. I asked her today to consider doing small things, like order for herself. Doing these small things daily (and she may need to start even smaller) will work her inner courage. These small things will eventually be what increases the inner power she already has and will be a great power, which can and will move her beyond negative thoughts, and therefore negative actions.

If you find this topic helpful, please pass this blog on to parents, educators—anyone who is interested in our future, which are these kids. Thank you.

The Soul Reporter

>Letter to a Young Girl

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My Graduation Day

Recently, I was asked to write a letter to a young girl. I don’t know who she is, but from her story she resembles a young girl I used to know, who still resides in me, and I trust resides in us all.  Here is my letter to the young girl:

Dear YOU,

We do not know each other, but we all know pain and struggle and we all are or have been teenagers, and YOU are not alone.
In your eyes and smile we can see what a beautiful, sweet and alive soul YOU are. There is hope, love, strength, forgiveness and innocence present inside of YOU.  YOU will need to access this part of YOU because life will sometimes feel disappointing and discouraging.

As YOU travel, here is…

My advice to YOU:

~Pay attention.  Every experience, relationship, thought, feeling- everything is a lesson to be learned and understood. It may sound overwhelming, especially when there are so many other things to pay attention to and be distracted by, but if YOU pay attention YOU will come to….
…~Know yourself.  YOU are important, interesting, unique, gifted. YOU also feel sad and alone and maybe think YOU are not good enough.  With all of this inside of YOU, take time for just YOU, listening and comforting yourself through the sadness, and celebrating and laughing with your goodness.
If YOU don’t have one already, get yourself a pretty JOURNAL and make it your best friend. Tell it everything, and as YOU write, YOU will….
…~Come to know the ‘Voice Inside.’  In one of my father’s letters to me, his advice was: ‘Let the higher voice be your guide.’  It is unfortunate many of us are not raised with this truth.  This Voice is what makes us special, and no matter what YOU discover about yourself, I will tell YOU what the ‘Voice Inside’ told me…
~There is nothing inside of YOU to be afraid of.  The thing we are most afraid of is ourselves. Maybe because others told us we weren’t okay, but everything inside of YOU is good- everything. And inside of YOU is something only YOU can do, and if YOU LISTEN, the ‘Voice Inside’ will help YOU…
~Find what YOU love. What makes your heart sing?  What are YOU good at? What are your interests? What do others notice about YOU?  Allow this ‘love’ to  be your primary focus and believe in yourself and what only YOU can offer to yourself and the world, and while YOU are doing what YOU love and everything in between…
~Love yourself– My mom always told me to look in the mirror, and say, “I love YOU.” I would roll my eyes, but YOU know what- Loving yourself is the most important thing YOU can do.  In this love, softness returns in places where YOU were once hardened and protected.  In this soft place, YOU are free and alive and YOU find JOY, a JOY YOU can bring to your life, yourself and others.

When I was younger, in another letter from my father he wrote,  ‘As your life moves on and some suffering comes your way, remember YOU are loved.’ May this advice to YOU always serve as a reminder of just how much YOU are loved, just for being YOU.

Blessings, Love & Truth to YOU, Dear YOU,

Nikki