Positive vs. Negative

Have you ever had ‘one of those days’ or weeks, or months, where you felt empty, drained, upset, uninspired, or even worthless? Of course you have! Unless you are a toddler reading this post to yourself on the super cool new tablet from Sprout, then I’m sure you’ve had at least a few hours of self doubt and/or inspiration blockage no matter what it is that you do (I’m not being paid to advertise, but these suckers are pretty cool!).

So what causes things to weigh on us like this? Why is it that we can feel happy one minute and sad, lonely, and uncreative the next? Part of it is that we live in a society where, despite (or perhaps because of) the rapidly growing number of selfies, people are constantly talking badly about themselves.

According to the post I recently read by Peggy Bert (found here), the ratio of positive comments needed to offset a negative is at least 2-to-1 in our most basic relationships. If you look at closer relationships, such as partners, parents, siblings, etc. the ratio can move up much higher, even up to 5 positive acts or comments required to offset every 1 negative.

So here is my question: If a negative comment from a boss, coworker, or friend needs at least 2 positives to offset that vibe…how many more does it take to offset a negative personal comment? How quickly can you shake it off when it is YOU doing the sniping at yourself?  I understand being bogged down, feeling anxious or trapped or claustrophobic in your own skin. In fact, that was yesterday for me. I have a lot of those days, my personal history includes some things that tend to sometimes make those days nightmares in my own mind. I’m sure most of us have those. It becomes more difficult to listen to my friends, my daughter’s sweet “You’re the Best Mama EVA” seems fake, and I want to throw all my clothes in the trash, burn them along with my writing notebooks, and run far away (well, drive in an air conditioned vehicle…but far far away). But eventually I have to just stop. I look around and see that, yes, there are more clothes to fold (shouldn’t have thrown them all on the floor…), yes, there are more dishes to wash, and ohmygoodness yes there are more toys to put away (HOW, HOW DID SHE GET SO MANY???), but there are also happy little monkey noises, a one eyed lop sided old rottie grinning at me, and the dragons in my head clamoring for attention.

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Maybe I’m not a size 10, maybe I’m not one of those girls, and yeah, maybe I am a big ol’ nerdy nerd who stays at home most of the time. But when I stop to look at what I have and what I do…I am pretty okie dokie; and, when I start doing positive things for myself, other positive things seem to follow. For example, for no good reason at all I got up last Saturday, did my hair and makeup, and put on a cute new dress. I thought I was staying at home, but it made me feel good. Mom, Monkey, and myself wound up wondering around town, getting compliments on how cute we all are, and finding an adorable little retro antique child’s ironing board!

Monkey and the ironing board....which is currently being used as a table.

Monkey and the ironing board….which is currently being used as a table.

Sometimes all it takes is a break. Yesterday, I got a babysitter (Thanks MOM!), went to lunch, met up with a good friend, hung out talking about my writing and his awesome new wife, and slowly without even trying, the weird angry paranoid sadness started melting away. I even got to go out again last night to watch Inside Out, and I woke up this morning with a smile on my face and the energy to do more today.

Happiness is infectious, so is negativity. When you are upset, the people around you are brought down and negativity can flow more easily. When you have a tendency to cut yourself or others down, even in jest, other people see and reciprocate in like manners. But if you let yourself think positively, even though it is HARD sometimes, then the people around you will notice that too.

Just a little sappy, happy pep talk to start your day off. I hope that it is full of joy, positive actions and comments, and blessings! May your inspiration flow and the river of your dreams never run dry!

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Reasons are just Excuses in a Top hat

I’ve have come up with all kinds of ‘reasons’ lately. “Reasons” that I’m not exercising, “reasons” that I’m not finished grading papers, “reasons” for not posting on the blog in weeks…and they are some great reasons! All the extra ‘fun’ (and not so!) stuff that was scheduled for the students over the past two weeks bumped my lessons more than a week, so that final papers got turned in the day we let out for spring break instead of the week before.

As for the running training and strength exercising that I was gonna be in the middle of by now…well my kid won’t settle for long, she’s a handful for nap time, I have all those papers to grade, meetings and early mornings don’t give me time…I have a ton of them!! Are you noticing a trend here? All these great reasons that I’m behind or not doing something I said I would do…they’re just excuses.

Isn’t that all a reason really is? An excuse all dressed up in it’s Sunday finery, top hat and all, just waiting to be paraded out for the company. Well guess what, maybe if I just admitted, even to myself, that these things are NOT the real cause of my lackluster performance, then I could start to pull it together and get things done.

Now I’m not saying that admitting to making excuses is going to solve all the world’s problems here. Far from it! My reasoning is just this: If I admit, just to myself, that the reason I didn’t exercise was not that I was worried about my daughter’s nap schedule or the stack of papers waiting on me, it was just simply that I did not want to..then maybe I will eventually change my tactic or my motivations. Or I just get rid of that activity.

Maybe I will admit that the problem is really that I lack organizational skills and need to better manage my time, among other things. Well then there I have it…a jumping off point for overhauling my paper grading/exercising/dieting/writing/everyotherdarnthing!

And maybe your reasons really are nothing more than good reasons. No top hats or fancy handkerchiefs waving in the breeze. If that is the case, I applaud you! If not…well they say admitting you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery. I just say, pass the potato chips and turn on Netflix!

Writing Affirmation in the Classroom

I AM an author I KNOW how to WRITE The WORDS LIVE in ME And My Story WILL BE AWESOME

I AM an author
I KNOW how to WRITE
The WORDS LIVE in ME
And My Story WILL BE AWESOME

I just wanted to pop today and share a little piece of joy with you. I currently have 83 students in my 5th grade writing program. Our state test is this coming Tuesday. We (meaning me) are starting to really feel the pressure. So today, before beginning our practice test, I am leading my students in two ‘echo’ exercises. #1 is our (almost) daily tradition of S.W.B.A.T. (Students WILL Be Able To…) followed by the lesson’s standard. For example, my board today states “S.W.B.A.T. – Follow a Prompt and Write a Narrative.”

After that rousing chorus, as the students are turning to begin their work, I am calling their attention back to the other side of the board and leading them in the echo of “I AM an AUTHOR! I KNOW how to WRITE! The WORDS LIVE IN ME! MY STORY WILL BE AWESOME!”

Each class is given the opportunity to repeat this after me 3 times. The first time they are hesitant, not really sure what I’m doing. The second time they are slightly more confident but still not so sure of themselves and their abilities. The third time though…OH THE THIRD TIME! Their voices ring proud, strong, and true and you can just tell that they know what is what now. They are enthusiastic, they are pumped, and THEY ARE AUTHORS!

It is an amazing thing to see and hear and I am so very proud of each and every one of my kids. So proud, in fact, that I took a few moments out of an unexpected ‘free’ period to announce it to you!

Please keep in mind all of the kids across the states, and the world, who are about to start taking these tests. Encourage those you can and think of those you can’t. Sometimes a little affirmation goes a long way.