Somewhere in Nowhere

Somewhere in Nowhere Kentucky

It’s been a rough few weeks whereby I’d travelled to Maryland, New Jersey, and Kentucky. Then presented at the ISNA Education Forum and International Nanny Association conference, attended and wrote about the IFANCA conference and Pakistan’s Halal accreditation progress (those were positive experiences), but also suffered the loss of one of my brothers-in-law, and the near fatal infection that necessitated my son’s fiancée to be in the ICU at Loyola Medical Center for nearly two weeks. With my husband overseas for his sibling’s funeral and mourning, the rest of us stayed at the ICU with the family of our son’s fiancée until her release to home a couple days ago.

It was a lot of life, death, and near death to deal with, and at times all I could do was remember what my mother once told me. “There will come a time when you will need your religion.” My family has just endured one of those times when even though you muster all you can to battle against threats, fear, and fatigue, ultimately you realize that you can only rely on God’s mercy to make it all right. And thankfully, it will be again.

But the design of the events, the coincidences and timings, could hardly have been accidental. For when I study how benefits were oddly derived, albeit through suffering loss and the threat of loss, do I find myself amazed. For out of the metaphorical ashes do I perceive bonds forged, appreciation for what is essential, and a determination to hold tightly to what gifts I have been given from above.

There is also the reminder to live for now and avoid putting off enjoyment of what life can offer before I cannot see, travel, and do. For one never knows when one may be somewhere in nowhere again.

The Future of Education Includes Self-Care

Education is what other people do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself.” (p. 167).

The future of education must address the unmet needs of companies who seek employees with both math and social skills, and the struggle of teachers to care for their selves.

Responding to educators’ needs in juggling their students’ job market preparation and their own self-care, I will be presenting at the upcoming ISNA Education Forum.

Based on books and articles, and apps I have used, my session is backed by research and my own experiences. As an experienced educator and administrator in a parochial school, I know the struggle between keeping tuition rates low, to accommodate middle and lower socioeconomic families, and teachers not being able to afford healthcare, domestic help, and niceties like new clothes, shoes, restaurants, and vacations, unless their salaries are supplemented with additional income. It is also a problem when teachers and administrators give many years of service to their community and then have no capitalization for retirement. That is why it is imperative to invest in self-care.

Exploring the topic from spiritual, physical, intellectual, and emotional perspectives, we will examine priorities and craft a plan to realize that as givers, we have to give ourselves permission to be responsible and designate our boundaries in the interest of self-preservation.

My business has opened new glimpses into what education, optimized entrepreneurship, and investment opportunities will be in the future, and it is only beginning.

That is why we will explore how teachers can start a paradigm shift to meet that future in a wholistic capacity to serve while not depleting themselves in the process.

“Education is what other people do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself.” –From Whiplash: How to survive our faster future by Joi Ito (MIT Lab) and Jeff Howe

March On, March

credit-flickr-wm-horsburgh March On, March

“It’s a good day.” “I’m on this side of the grass.” That’s what Dad would say, even though the grass is more like a soggy brown mat with snow flurries presently gracing it. I miss my father, and it is the month he died two years ago.
While I try to stay positive, in what characteristically has been my least favored month, I’m pleased to see the return of the daffodils at Trader Joe’s. To me, that is one of the hallmarks of springtime coming soon.
This year has been largely void of the usual amount of snow, and wouldn’t you know it was the year we finally acquired a snow blower. Joke’s on us! With a very long driveway, I will keep it ready to blow until mid-April, because snow blizzards have still been known to dump on us then.
Various work projects get me through this arduous season, as I develop creative presentations using new audio and visual technologies for myself and my clients. Along with some writing and editing, I have a healthy balance of interesting prospects to carry me toward May, for which I am grateful.
My take on the current political situation is best illustrated by my husband’s experience today. About a month ago, we were invited to meet our son’s fiancee’s family at her graduation party. We were in our car, standing still at the entry to a small cul-de-sac, looking for a place to park, when another car reversed out of a driveway and collided with our rear panel. Fortunately, no one was injured, and we felt pity for the young driver. Wanting to help him, we’d suggested that we’d settle without police or insurance company intervention. But the boy’s uncle, who owned the home and who did not witness the accident, insisted that we call the police, so I did. The result was that the officer saw the evidence and issued the young man a citation. (Lesson: don’t always listen to your old uncle.)
As expected, the other insurance company sent us a check for damages, but then a court summons arrived in the mail for my husband’s appearance today. Not going to work was a burden, but it seemed that the young man took the advice of his uncle and wanted his day in court.
The judge asked him, “How do you plea?” The young man replied, “Wait!” “I want to tell you what happened.” His Honor stated, “No, you don’t.” “How do you plea?” “Guilty or not guilty?”
Not only did he have to pay the ticket, he also earned court fees. The judge profusely thanked my husband for his attendance and the case was closed.
I hope the young man learned what I want everyone to remember. We have systems. They guide and preserve us, and I am ever more pleased that Americans are once again taking an interest in their civic duties.
Ignorance, hubris, and apathy are the enemies. As long as we don’t indulge them, we will march on. March on, March!

Operation SPS: Squatty Potty Strategy

squatty-potty-unicorn-haiku

Credit Source: Lybio.net

Mission SPS: Squatty Potty™ Strategy
There was something oddly familiar about the gift I received from my sister this past Christmas. A Squatty Potty™, which is normally not something I would advertise; but in the current political clime, it seems selfish to not share my own self-care strategy.
Its familiarity resonated from the cute instructional video (you have to click on the link) about its proper use and scientifically supported value. Curiously, I suspected that My Little Pony’s™ Rainbow Dash was moonlighting, with the addition of a horn, to be the Squatty Potty™ mascot, a unicorn that can poo rainbow…, well you know.
While we in the Modern Age can add a device like the Squatty Potty™ to our bathrooms, it is amusing to cite another reason it was comfortingly familiar. This invention corrects the body’s anatomical stance when on a toilet, so that it can return to its evolutionary baseline, a squat. Ironically, before plumbing, humans were meant to squat over the earth, but in many countries this is the exact position one assumes when using a “traditional” toilet.
Funny how we forget that long established traditional cultures have ancient knowledge worthy of respect and study.
I believe that every American should have the good fortune to see other countries in the world—and not just on the tourist track—they should see and experience for a spell how people really live.
It has been one of my highest priorities as a parent to encourage this for my own children, and I believe it gives them true vision of the world outside the U.S.
Yet, why do I share this as critical self-care? Many people I have spoken with have expressed deep disturbance and anxiety over the social climate in the U.S. The barrage of articles, videos, protests, and interviews had resulted in one relative commenting that she wanted to vomit when she saw the current Counselor to the President of Donald Trump; and I’d noted several nights of restless sleep, which when analyzed were blamed on visions of an orange puss-faced character who made a lot of senseless noise.
Therefore, I credit my Squatty Potty™ with getting “it all out;” and with the benefit of lavender essential oil in an aromatherapy mister, as well as my discover of a “Name That Tune” type of game app called SongPop 2, and lastly a bedtime dose of magnesium citrate; now I sleep very well.
This is a long term strategy for self-preservation and wellness. Feel free to share how you are strategizing to keep health and stress in check in these days of chaos. Peace.

Recipe for Leadership and Economic Success

fullsizerender Half of America is stunned by results of the 2016 presidential election, and it is disturbing to see such deep emotional responses ranging from blatant uncivil conduct to outright depression and fear.

Smoldering xenophobia and racism has been uncovered, and it is reminiscent of bad days I’d thought passed from the black-and-white TV news clips seen when I was a child in the 60s. What folly based in ethnocentric myopia! It is especially surprising in an age in increased connectivity and access to global communities.

Trump has stirred up and re-ignited embers not yet extinguished, but it was fueled by a void in leadership and economic stresses exacerbated by our fiat currency. A bipartisan stalemate, political representatives and media bought by special interests, and economic hardship for most Americans has created this dilemma.

The two majority parties, who should have selected better candidates, obviously chose their presidential nominees because they wanted to secure their futures with more of the same. Meanwhile, a vast number of folks representing both sides directly sought change for the betterment of the country, but we will see what change we will get now.

Trump, although given the opportunity, has ironically chosen to be silent now on the civil unrest he seemed to imply was acceptable by his own unpresidential conduct. He promised solutions, and we will see if he has the capacity to play politics as well as he played the people.

However, I am pleased that the Obama administration respected the will of the people and legal treaty to support the stay at Standing Rock. Also, in eight years, the sky did not fall in from the economic plight left by both the Bush and Clinton administrations, but I don’t believe the numbers that imply that we are really better off now.

Compared to the global growth in economies, America is still not showing enough real traction to overcome its debt burdens. These were created by a few malevolent players that dominate finance, pharmaceutical, insurance, petroleum, and weapons industries.

Historically, war has been used to create economic growth and wealth for the few at the expense of human suffering and lives. Let’s not fall into the traps that are set by these parasites. Let’s not capitulate to hate and fear, which are deliberately being provoked to justify the next agenda of the ultra-elitist manipulators.

I’m touched to see communities reaching out and people talking to each other so that those hateful and ignorant embers do indeed die and we can progress in solid unity, as our country was conceived to be. We educators need to give a global perspective to our students and encourage the study of foreign cultures and languages. We, as Americans, need to travel and see more of the world in order to understand that we as humanity share the earth and its resources. Only then can we collaborate to find solutions for global sustainability and secure a free America.

Entrepreneurship, creating value and jobs through the production of goods and services, is an area familiar to Trump. I hope he will greatly use that avenue to make America great again. Meanwhile, he could do more to heal wounds that need mending so that his four years have a chance for a favorable legacy.

America the Salad

img_2540 In America, food reflects our country, and I love it! Snarfing down a lunch salad, I have quinoa, historically from the Inca civilization; couscous, typically north African; and a melee of vegetables, herbs, and spices that represent a world of cuisine. Since my days as a Sociology major, I was intrigued by cultures and subcultures, and even one of my favored professors went undercover to research the runaway prostitution train—until he was suspiciously murdered in Florida.

When I married my Palestinian husband, 35 years and 4 children ago, I anticipated a life of adventure. We’d planned to go to Saudi Arabia to become millionaires in the 80s; but I’m amused that although things did not turn out as I’d expected, we launched an export trade company and do business today with folks from many different ethnicities where we pick up smatterings of several languages and meet many fine people…here in America!

Diversity is what makes America great, and frankly I think that those who live their lives in silos are missing so much of the richness out there. As an educator, I celebrate that our schools are valuable meeting places for our children to learn about other cultures and religions first-hand.

When I was in 3rd grade, I went home with Angelica; she was Latino, and ate different food than my family. However, it was tasty! Then in 6th grade, I played at the house of my friend Patti; she was Jewish, and I learned that in a kosher kitchen one does not eat shellfish nor mix milk into scrambled eggs like my mom did. Although they were different from me, an American, Roman Catholic with Polish and Lithuanian ancestry, I considered them to be among my nicest friends.

To those people who are bent out of shape, arrogant, ethnocentric, and generally pissed off at the world, I say “Eat a samosa!” Indo-pak food is delicious! Enrich your life and appreciate the real, vibrant, and decent neighbors who are immigrants. Check out ethnic restaurants, and live a more fabulous life. In America, you have a world of possibilities, literally.

A New Learning Paradigm

10020940964_9a153ac6e2_zEducation in the U.S. is slowly evolving to face its competition–a young, curious and inventive demographic found in countries that highly value their educators, and increasingly in developing countries where youth use technology to access the world.

Somewhere along the way we questioned if teaching penmanship was still relevant in an age of keyboarding. Well, I will verify that it is—as long as we still hand write notes, essays, and the free responses on standardized exams. These are the evidences we associate with learning; and yet, is what we learn in school still relevant to our needs today?

Perhaps the answer to this is dependent on what role in society we assume, or what roles our children will hope to actualize. And one also ponders if teachers, with rapidly evolving technologies, are keeping current?

We live in an age of educational abundance, thanks to the internet. Though, while people in remote developing nations are investing with curiosity in their enhancement of knowledge and commerce, are we significantly invested as a nation in our own self-improvement?

With a smorgasbord of courses, free and paid content, how many spend at least two hours a week accessing professional development and cultivating new skills that will meet the requisite level of competence for adequately responding to global challenges? If not, then we become dinosaurs and demonstrate a miserable model of irrelevance.

Investing in professional development is a wise choice, and just may help secure value-driven personal profit, contentment, and a link to the interconnected matrix of diverse people who are connecting to work well together and prosper.

If interested in this topic for a keynote or professional development, visit my website at susanlabadi.com