Wednesday, January 28, 2009

There’s More To Life


Here's a story about something I learned during my teaching days for Medicine Hat College. It seems so often when we go to teach somebody something, things get turned around and the lesson becomes ours. When I was challenged to teach a blind singer to dance, I had no idea I would become the learner.

I was a dance teacher for a local college and had been learning a series of new dances to introduce into the communities in the area. My friend and I decided it would be fun to practice to a live band at a lounge. We didn't know we'd been the topic of interest where the band was concerned until they approached us during one of their breaks. Admiring our footwork, they asked if we could spend time with the three female singers in the group and teach them some of our steps. It was felt the steps would enhance their singing routines. Thinking it would be a fun morning and give us more practice we agreed to meet at their motel the following day.

My friend was interested in working with two of the singers and suggested that I work with the third singer, Gail. The challenge for me would be to accurately describe each move for Gail. She had the greater challenge, to process, interpret and simulate. Being blind, Gail had never seen us dance but she exuded confidence. She also trusted her fellow singers that the steps would be fun and a great addition to their act.

I went from feeling sympathy for Gail to admiring her. She was able to accomplish all that her sighted colleagues had in the same amount of time. She was an amazing woman and the session with Gail taught me more than I realized.

A few weeks later, while I was teaching a group of adults a country western Line Dance I noticed that most of them spent a lot of time looking at my feet, or the feet of someone in front of them. I wanted them to feel confident on the dance floor, but I could see that they were relying too heavily on others. A memory of Gail came to mind and as I thought of her, I realized she had learned so quickly because she did not use her eyes. The message went from her brain straight to her muscles.

I told the group about Gail and suggested we try something new; to pretend we couldn't see. We went over the steps a few times and I matched each combination of moves with a trigger word or phrase. Then we focused on a spot on the wall, never looking down and went through the dance again using only the trigger words to remind our brains of what we wished our feet to do. Invariably and with unbelievable consistency the students learned the dance quicker than usual.

I never saw Gail again yet her dance lessons taught me something I would use again and again over the years. The lesson eventually helped hundreds of students to learn better and to thereby feel more confidence.

Without Gail, I doubt that I would have discovered a new method for teaching dance. Her attitude showed me that we should not be afraid of the things we cannot see and do not know. Gail didn't see herself as courageous, learning to dance in spite of blindness; no instead she accepted new challenges as an opportunity to taste more life. Gail laughed at her mistakes. She lived in the moment.

By Ellie Braun-Haley

1 John 4:20-21 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

Source :

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Formula For A Successful Life


I have a friend who prepares taxes. He lamented to me once about some of his wealthier clients - those with six and seven figure incomes. Some of these people, he said, even despite the obvious tax benefits, refused to give any of their money away. Some are spending more money on grooming their pets than on feeding hungry children. They simply have not discovered the importance and power of giving. And sadly, these wealthier clients are in a position to do something significant, but they choose to do nothing at all.

Author Kent Nerburn wrote a book titled Letters To My Son: A Father's Wisdom on Manhood, Life, and Love. In one letter, he teaches his son the value of generosity:

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance, and none can say why some fields will blossom and others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices in life no more easily made. And give. Give in any way that you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than how it is shared, and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.”

How fortunate for one boy that his father is showing him how to truly live!

People who live well are experts at giving. They give their money; they give their time. They share their wisdom and their skills. They quickly say yes when asked to help.

For them, the formula is simple: to give is to love and to love is to live. It's a formula for a successful life.

By Steve Goodier

Hebrews 13:1-3 “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kids Need A Patient Ear

Kids Need A Patient Ear
By Gregory Ramey
New York Times

Listening is what matters when children talk. Participate actively and end the conversation on a positive note

“Dogs, grandparents, and stuffed animals” are the most common responses I hear from children when asked a simple, but important question: “Who do you talk to when you have a problem?”

The importance of grandparents is understandable, but why would kids choose a stuffed animal or family pet rather than talking to a parent? Here are things parents can learn from pets, grandparents, and stuffed animals.

1. Don’t talk so much
Sometimes young kids just need to talk and to say out loud their many and conflicting thoughts and feelings. They don’t really know what they think or feel. They just need a friendly presence to listen.

Children talk like the rest of us. They say contradictory things, change the subject or express feelings that seem rather extreme or inappropriate. What they need is someone to be there as they try to figure out their confusing worlds.

Kids feel this presence from their grandparents, a warm sense of love and acceptance without interruptions, and overreactions they get from their parents.

2. Make time to communicate
Young children are not always good at communicating on adult schedules. It’s important to respond to kids when they want to talk. Parents report this is typically at bed or bath time, or when kids have returned from some events, such as right after preschool or playing with a friend.

Dogs are good at this. Kids report their pets are always there for them and never say “we’ll talk later”.

3. Understand the real reasons why they want to talk
Young children sometimes just want to express what they are thinking. Act like a stuffed animal, just listen and don’t say anything!

4. Know when to stop
Young kids are really cute about the way they talk. I’ve learned you need to follow the lead from children. When they are done talking, they are really done. Pressuring them doesn’t work and decreases the likelihood they will speak with you again.

5. Use active listening techniques
Young kids respond very well to open-ended questions such as “What do you mean?” or “Tell me more about that.” It’s also helpful to summarise the main idea or feelings as a way to let your children know that you really understood what they are saying.

6. Encourage but don’t pressure kids to talk
Here’s where grandparents really excel. They understand that young children communicate by their behaviour.

7. Be mindful of how you end the conversation
Kids remember how conversations begin and end. If the conversation requires some follow-up actions, be sure to get back to your child within the day. Humour or hugs can be a great way to end the discussion on a positive note.

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