Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Setting Healthy Goals

I have a very strong suspicion that you've been told to write goals before. It's like a map, it's a plan, a pilot can't fly until they know where they're going, etc. Yes? But, have you been instructed on HOW to actually write them by thinking into the future, imagining all of the possibilities, and then backwards mapping them back to the present moment? If you have, I want to hear from you in your journal.

Journal topic: What is your experience with writing goals? If you have done it, did you like it? Was it worthwhile? Did it seem pointless? Was it too tedious? If you haven't done it, why not? Were you told to do it and just decided not to? Did you try, but it was too confusing or hard? What has your goal writing experience been like?

My journal from yesterday:
I have had many opportunities to speak my mind. I do it daily in my family, within my job, and with my friends. As I think back to my high school days, I see that I was not an assertive person, I was fairly passive. I would tend to let everyone else talk and not say much myself, in social situations. When I was one on one though, I would definitely speak up an have more opinions about things.
I remember one time a friend of mine tried to get me to sneak out of my house one night. He told me he was going to come pick me up and we would drive around. I remember being scared because neither of us had a driver's license, and so not only did I not trust him to keep us safe, I knew that I would get in a lot of trouble if we got caught. I told him no (we were on the phone) and that I didn't want to get in trouble. He said "There's no way we'll get caught, I've been watching my parents and I know their routines. I'll be over there around 1:00am". He was very pushy, but I just said "this is not a good idea, I don't want to do that." I secretly hoped he would not try to follow through with his plan.

The next day was a Saturday, and one of my chores was to mow the lawn. As I was mowing the front yard, I saw my friend's parents car parked in front of my next door neighbors' house. Puzzled, I went inside and asked my Mom "Are Nate's parents here?" She said "No, why?". I said "I see his Mom's car parked next door, did they stop by?". "No, that's strange." she said.

I called my friend on the phone, and he said, "I'm grounded for a month. My dad heard me sneak out of the house and he followed me in his other car. When I got to your house, he pulled up and took me home."

Monday, April 20, 2020

Refusal Skills

Learning to say no seems like a really good skill. I wonder how good each of you are at telling people no. Being able to say no to people in a way that still respects them is called being assertive. Sometimes people need to say no, and sometimes we have to even tell ourselves no. We do this every time we make a choice. A choice, or a decision, requires that we say yes to one thing, and no to something else.

In the Textbook, it tells us that this skill is called a Refusal Skill. As you are learning about yourself and what you want in your life, getting better at refusal skills will be very beneficial to you. Throughout your life, these refusal skills can turn into leadership skills as you use them to help protect your values and beliefs, and to be able to voice your opinion on various issues.

It can be very scary to voice your opinion, especially in bigger groups of people. It brings up a lot of emotions, which causes stress, and as you know, sometimes people freeze in those situations and end up not speaking up. I encourage you to think about that as you do today's journal topic.

Today's Journal Topic:
Describe a time you have had an opportunity to use refusal skills. Did you tell the person or people no, or did you not speak your mind? What was the result? Did they listen to you? What feelings did you have as you spoke up? Were your afraid, or did you feel more confident? Maybe your feelings changed as you started speaking, and even though your confidence was low at first, as  you started speaking, you gained more courage. Be as descriptive as you can about the situation.

Friday, April 17, 2020


The other day I listened to a podcast about the Tesla cybertruck, and Elon Musk said he’s noticed that a lot of engineers spend time “optimizing things that shouldn’t exist.” I thought it was interesting because I’ve found that as I grow older and become the person who is setting up the structure of things- classroom, curriculum, personal budget, etc., I am faced with a gigantic number of decisions to make each day.

A lot of people have influenced the decisions I make, the list is actually quite large, I’ve had a lot of influences over the years. Most recently has actually been Dr. Preston, whose video you watched, influencing me to think about education and learning. Years ago it was my high school soccer coach, encouraging me to try my best and giving me good philosophies on soccer strategies. Those are just two examples, I could go on and on.

Today’s Journal Topic:
Who have been your greatest influences so far? What did they teach you? 

My journal from yesterday:
The first few weeks of Distance Learning were difficult, there were many spreadsheets, contacts, and deadlines to meet, it was very overwhelming. Then we had spring break, and that was good to have the down time and the chance to clean up my garage, which was a disaster.

Over break I started a New York Documentary series, very interesting to see how influential New York has been on American culture. I was unaware.

I also found Tom Bukovac and Mike Palmisano, two guitarists who put out videos. Actually I found Richards guitars as well, I’ve been trying to play a lot more lead guitar, but it’s slow going. I made some recordings with GarageBand, but nothing anyone might care to listen to.

I’m actually feeling quite settled, I realized that nobody really knows what to do , and that there are mistakes made and unintended consequences no matter what people decide to do. I’ve always heard that, but I’m really starting to realize it and finding peace within that fact. I see now that I can build based on my experiences, and it can have value.

I started another PandaPlanner, and I’m glad to be back to that structure. I’m also back to work, and will be focused on a few core things- mainly making sure all deadlines are met. Back to the basics, keep things simple.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Aaaaand, we're back.

My last post was on becoming a doctor. That's a long journey that requires a lot of really tough decisions. Some people are ready to start on that journey, others may choose a different path. Either way, decisions will need to be made. Today I'll "lecture" on decisions.

I hope you had a great Spring Break, I actually didn't journal publicly during that time, those last 2 weeks of Distance Learning were extremely exhausting and I needed to get away from the computer.
Now that it's time to get back to Distance Learning though, journaling will be a consistent action for this class.

Journal Topic: Were you able to unwind/reset/relax during Spring Break? If you were, what did you do to help yourself de-stress during the last week? If you weren't, what got in your way?

Decision Making Assignment:

Friday, April 3, 2020

Becoming a Doctor

I truly enjoy reading your journals! Thank you. It's funny in a weird way, I seem to be the one benefiting the most from all of these, because I get to see the great thoughts and insights that each of you have. I think you are missing out on learning from each other, and that's a shame. If you think it's a shame too, please post "It's a shame" in the group section of our Google Hangout.

Spring Break is upon us. I have one more journal topic that will be an assignment (see below). I will not be assigning work over Spring Break. I will however, be posting daily journal topics here on this blog, and if you would like to journal on those, I will gladly read them. See Google Classroom for more information. I hope you each can have a restful time away from the stressors of homework and daily assignments. I will Post again in Google Classroom on April 15 or 16.

Journal Topic of the day: Becoming a Doctor
Please watch this update from MedCram. What are your thoughts on becoming a doctor? Does working in a hospital under the conditions that are described in the video sound appealing to you? What types of needs do you think doctors working with Covid 19 patients have?

My Journal RE: Needs (from Thursday)
I don't know exactly how I feel about Spring Break. Actually, I have been repressing my feelings about most things recently because I have deadlines to finish, and my deadlines don't care about my feelings.

I do care about my feelings though. For me, it takes a long time and a lot of focused intention to notice exactly how I feel. I try to handle this by getting up early, and reading positive and insightful texts in order to get me started on the right path for the day.

For me, when I wake up, I tend to have angry, judgemental thoughts, along with worry and anxiety. It's better for me to get up before everyone else and do my reading and journaling in the morning because I've been told I LOOK angry every morning when I wake up! That makes others sometimes think that I am mad at them, but actually I (usually) am not!

I have read that people who have had trauma, especially trauma early in their lives, are more susceptible to this type of thinking. I don't know for sure about others, but that has been my experience (I'm pretty sure I told all of you about my brother's accident when we were kids).

Over the years I have collected strategies that I have adopted and use in order to be able to cope with daily stressors and the negative emotions they can produce in me. I have a whole collection of tricks, tips, insights, etc. that can be applied at different times. I would say that some people learn these types of things from their families as they grow up, but some do not, and they have to learn them as they get older and through experience.

I don't consider myself to be fully self-actualized yet. There are still many things that I want to be able to do, but in order to do them I'll need to change some thinking patterns and behaviors. Like all of you, I have social needs that are not being met due to the Coronavirus situation, but I have shelter, food, and hope and I am looking forward to being able to see you students and all of my friends again in person. Until that time, I will keep on taking on my responsibilities to the best of my ability, and try to bring joy to the other people in my life on a daily basis.

Thursday, April 2, 2020


I loved reading your journals from yesterday. I saw many words describing your emotions, which made me think of people's needs. You see, each one of us has needs. There is actually a model that organizes these needs, it's called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The interesting thing is that your emotions are directly related to your needs. To oversimplify, I could say that "negative" emotions tend to point towards needs not being met, while "positive" emotions point to needs being met. Today I'd like you to read pages 61-67 in our Health Textbook. The topic there is "Mental and Emotional Health". There are 2 areas I'd like you to pay close attention to, and that is the Maslow's section, and the Defense Mechanisms section.

Your journal prompts today are:
1. Think about your daily interactions with the people in your life. Do you notice yourself using any defense mechanisms? If so, which ones do you notice?

2. What are some of the needs you have that are being met right now? What are some of the needs you have that are unmet right now?

On a more personal note, here is my journal from yesterday. As one student mentioned, it would be weird if every thought was put online. I agree, so I'll try to censor myself. Side note: You are not required to read any of my personal journal for a grade in this class. YOU CAN STOP READING NOW.

When I get a thought, I tend to have dialogues in my head, like a movie. It guess it's how I weigh the pros and cons of a situation.
Waves washing over us. What if we can't see them coming? Blindsided. Look! What if you can't? I received a request from a former student of mine to download an app called Be My Eyes. My former student, GJ, is blind, and he uses the app to get help with doing everyday tasks. Anyway, I downloaded it and am awaiting the first call. I am a little nervous about it, but I'll see how it goes.

I have a lot of paperwork to do for my job. During this school closure, it's overwhelming and my stress level is very high. The constant bombardment of texts, calls, notifications, and interruptions makes it very difficult to think clearly on solving the problems I am trying to solve. I am working on my routines for tackling every problem, which for me means spending 20 minutes or so on a task, then moving to the next one and determining the next action to take, then cycling back around to address that task again after I've worked on the others. I don't know if it's super effective, but at least I am addressing everything.

Ok, to get back to the prompt.
1. So, news. When I watch the news, I get tense, annoyed, and fearful, and then I think that there's got to be a better way of staying informed. That usually prompts me to stop watching, and go back to what the authorities are recommending. I have a small part in this whole thing, and that is to stay home and keep safe. I am doing that, and that's all I can do at this time. I find comfort in that fact.

2. Over Spring Break, I am looking forward to organizing my garage, which is where I am working from. I took over a shelf and set up my computer on it. I had to move a bunch of things to the middle of the garage in order to do that, so it's a complete mess. During Spring Break, I'll have time to get all of that organized. When I look at the pile of stuff, I get hopeful, because I am excited about cleaning up.

3. I am learning to use GarageBand on my iPhone. I borrowed a device from my brother in law Nate that allows me to plug my electric guitar into the phone and record, using different effects. I have learned how to record drum beats, rhythm guitar, then lead guitar, each as a separate track, mixed together to make a song. I spend about 30 minutes a day, when I am done working, usually around 10:00 at night, recording the music. Then I clean the kitchen and listen to the music, then send it to my brother Brady so he can further edit the track. Brady and I have talked about making music together for years, and now we are trying to make it more of a priority. Making music with others has always made me feel very connected, inspired, hopeful, and proud. I am concentrating my lead playing on the Mixolydian scale at this time, trying to break out of the Pentatonic rut I have been in for years.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Week 4 Journals

1. Info
2. Brene Brown Podcast and our Textbook
3. Medcram
4. Communicating with family
5. Journaling

I have enjoyed reading your questions and comments over the past couple of days, thank you for your opinions and insights.

We are approaching Spring Break, you will not be getting assignments during this time, they will resume on April 14.

Yesterday I shared BrenĂ© Brown’s podcast episode. She mentioned that collectively, we are coming out of a panic mode and becoming exhausted. That reminded me of our textbook, describing the Exhaustion Stage of the "general adaptation syndrome" model. "In this stage, you cannot take the resistance to the stressor any longer, especially if several stressors occur in a row." p. 82. It goes on to say that your immune system cannot fight illness during this stage.

Brené recommends that we get our news from calm, medically and epidemiologically relevant sources. This made me feel mentally peaceful, because I feel comfortable with the information I have been receiving and sharing through MedCram. (Here is the latest update if you are interested).

She also says that naming your % level is helpful to communicate with your family. For example: "I am at 50%, or I am at 30%" referring to your ability to deal with things in that moment. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that strategy, comment below if you'd like to weigh in.

And now we come to Journaling. I want to keep this simple, yet effective and worthwhile. We only have 3 more days of work, then I'll back off for Spring Break. Today, I'd like you to start your journal. If it's on paper, fantastic, you can take a photo and post it to today's Google Classroom Post. If it's on the Google Doc in Google Classroom, wonderful. It does need to be in a place that you will be able to review at a later date, so make it easy on yourself. (Do not comment your journal below)

Please use words to describe your emotions, here is a guide.