Social Media: Helpful or Harmful?

Recently, I posed a question to a young man about Gen Z. My question was, “What is wrong with your peers?” I went on to explain the reason for my question noting how so many young adults lack accountability and they fail at committing to things long term. As if that wasn’t enough, communication is zero. His reply, “They smoke too much.” What???!?

The gentleman went on further in sharing his thoughts. He explained Gen Z has grown up in a world of social media. Social media has taught them to have jobs, talents, businesses and things that are sometimes not realistic in the moment. Because they can’t keep up with the Jones’, they are sinking into a state of confusion and depression. He concluded by saying social media has led them to believe they are failures, so they smoke weed. That’s their answer, their cure. Wow!

From the outside looking in, I thought Gen Z had it made. I perceived social media as an outlet of opportunities and I’m sure it still is. However, I didn’t realize they were putting this level of pressure on themselves because of social media. But once this statement was made, it made me realize how football players find the need to post EVERY offer they receive on Twitter. I starting envisioning all of the luxury bags I see on Instagram. And then I recalled all of the couples videos and “catching flights not feelings” videos that made it to all the platforms. What I discovered is many of them are looking for clout before it’s truly their time to shine. They don’t want next, they want now. I really started to question how much negative impact does social media have on our kids?

If you spend a lot of time on social media, ask yourself, “Why are so many athletes in the transfer portal and why do we know about it?”, “Why are athletes committing again on social media?”, “Why do we need to know you’re expecting?” I think we’ll figure that out. “Why do we know you went to Saks, Nordstroms, etc.?” My point is why have we become so comfortable with sharing so much of ourselves? Well, only the parts that make the highlight reel. Has social media really had this kind of impact on our kids? Has it become harmful? Again, I thought it gave Gen Z a head start. What are your thoughts???!? 🤔

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The Inn of the Hills

Inn of the Hills

When people said they were going to be outside this summer, they meant they were going to be outside, outside. There are no suitcases to be found. The cost of a rental car for a week is more than a monthly car payment. And hotels are charging mortgage prices for extended stays. People are glad to be “free”.

My family travels every summer so of course we are ready to go. However, we realized how much “The Lockdown of 2020” took us by storm. We didn’t take time to plan and prepare a year in advance as we usually do so we’ve been walking around confused. While we’re still finalizing plans for a vacation coming soon, we did have a chance to make an impromptu trip to Kerrville, TX.

In Kerrville, we stumbled upon this gem of a hotel called The Inn of the Hills. It’s in a very quiet but busy part of town. There were many restaurants to access but that was really the only flow of traffic in the area. And down the street was a body of water for those choosing to fish or just sit in the quiet. Even with options available, the best place to be was at the hotel.

The hotel houses a full restaurant, a game room, two pools, and lounging areas outside of every room and the restaurant. The pool area was so spacious, there were multiple families out and we never made contact with each other, not even to speak. And most importantly, it was extremely quiet. There was absolutely no noise. My type of place.

Needless to say, this was a pleasant getaway. It was a great opportunity to wind down and reset. It was also a welcoming opportunity to spend time alone with my small family. What are your plans for the summer? Are you going outside? Share some ideas below for somw of your favorite travel spots.

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Father, Father

Father’s Day brings an opportunity for many to acknowledge and celebrate their fathers. Truthfully, this is a rare occurrence because dads are often overlooked. We have very high expectations of the patriarch of the family but we fail to recognize their efforts on a daily basis. We reserve it for that one shining moment called Father’s Day.

Having lost my father, Father’s Day is different for me, not a sad time, but a different time. As I watched all the Father’s Day posts on my feed this past weekend, I found myself scrolling past each of them. I didn’t take the time to like anybody’s post or send any words of jubilee. I just couldn’t find the strength to engage. The crazy part is my dad always celebrated Juneteenth. It was a holiday in our household all of my life. So, to have Juneteenth on Saturday and Father’s Day on Sunday had me in a slight slump.

Instead of moping and thinking about things that I can’t change, my family and I decided to take full advantage of the weekend. My husband fired up the pit for Juneteenth because that is exactly what my dad would have done. My dad actually took off work and still didn’t get a fire started until everybody else had completed a full day of work. On Father’s Day we took a quick getaway to relax and walk away from the hustle and bustle of life as well as the memories of what we used to do on Father’s Day. And of all the things that were said and done, to see my son laugh and smile as my husband spoke of my dad and some of his antics of years ago was heartwarming. My son hadn’t spoke of my dad or smiled when hearing conversations about my day since 2019. To hear him crack jokes and laugh about the grandfather that spoiled him immensely blessed my heart. That one moment in time was pure joy and a win for me.

How did you celebrate your father? If you have lost your father, how do you cope with that reality on days like Father’s Day?

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The Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements Applied to Higher Ed. Leadership — Dr.  Audrey Reille

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom was a book I read many years ago. I enjoyed it so much my husband and I used it during one of our Marriage Enrichment courses. I only started reading the book after seeing it as a recommendation on Pinterest but the four agreements have been instrumental in my personal and professional life.

In Ruiz’ book, he states, “children do not know any better than to agree with the adult realities into which they are indoctrinated.” He goes on to say, “Children have no choice but to agree.” “But as we mature, we can become warriors, breaking free from the shackles of agreements with our implanted, false ideas. We can accept healthier agreements.”

As I sit and read blogs, scroll this social media and watch teenagers and young adults in action I am seeing the words of Ruiz’ come to life. This generation is respectfully setting boundaries with the adults in their lives and definitely moving away from ideas that have been ingrained in their minds. They are no longer doing things because “that’s what we’ve always done”. Ruiz has set a standard and teenagers and adults alike are becoming healthier, happier people.

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word – Speak with integrity. Say what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak out against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. – This is the part that offends most people. The truth does hurt. Most people see the truth as an act of pain instead of an act of progress. We don’t want to be corrected. We are afraid to correct ourselves because people will know we made a mistake. Stay encouraged, speak life into yourself and learn to speak life into others.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally – Nothing others do is because if you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. – We are quick to tell someone, “Do You” until it doesn’t benefit us or go along with our narrative. We must learn to accept peoples’ realities and respect their views and opinions. What they choose to do has little to do with me. Even when it impacts me, their decisions were for their welfare.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. – Communication is key in any relationship. Often we look for clues and make hints so we can draw our own conclusions. Making assumptions stops progress. When we make assumptions, we misunderstand, we take it personally and then we react, typically negatively. Ask for what you need, even information.
  4. Always Do Your Best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. – This is a learning lesson for many. I have to tell myself daily, “You gave your best.” In working with students, they become easily frustrated when things don’t turn out the way they expect them to turn out. This is especially true of athletes. My question is always, “Did you try your best?” or “Did you give the best you had today?” And I end the conversation.

Do you practice any of these agreements? Are you living life on your own terms? I am learning to free myself of the past and live life on my own terms. I encourage you to find the emotional, mental and physical freedom that allows you to be true to you.

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I Am Amazing!

The last day of school for the 2021-21 school year has arrived and to say I am relieved is an understatement. As I woke up in preparation for the day and arrived tardy to work, I had to keep reminding myself I survived the school year. I pulled through the toughest year in my 25 years of being an educator. In addition to the mental and emotional turmoil, I decided to break the rules and stand on a chair which caused me a little bit of physical pain as well. But in the midst of it all, I gave myself a pep talk, put on my end of year attire and limped into work with a smile on my face. I thought about all the things I endured this year but then decided to shift my focus to all the things I accomplished this year.

We were one of the school districts that tried the hybrid model. I taught online students and face to face students and sometimes their sessions overlapped. I teach students with special needs so think of the disadvantages for all parties that engaged. However, all of my students still had a fulfilling school year, they were able to show progress and their confidence increased.

I was tasked with having two of the most difficult students on campus, one on my caseload, one in my class. Both of these students had been to a minimum of four schools prior to coming to our happy place. Both of them managed to make it through an entire year of academia at one school, for the first time in their lives. We were able to build relationships with the students and develop their social and behavioral skills.

We thought we were losing team members but after a retirement announcement we managed to keep our team together. Many of us had to shift roles, but at least we get to continue growing together as one. Adding two new teachers to the team this year and possibly having to see them leave so soon was a bomber. So, we were elated to keep The Little Rascals together.

My evaluation, as always, exceeded expectations. I am very passionate about what I do so I generally don’t care about evaluations but to have my efforts acknowledged in written form was a highlight for this year. Many leaders do what’s necessary to get the job completed but don’t find time to encourage their teachers. So stating the obvious and having it noted in my file was a remarkable gift.

Last but not least, people, the kind words and acknowledgements I received for doing double duties and being names Teacher of the Year were heartfelt. Every day someone came by to extend a considerate gesture from a word of confirmation to small snacks to Happy Hour invites. This year really helped the bond in our school community.

As I prepare to walk out the door for a much needed break, I wanted to focus on the good times. I wanted to remember all the things that went well. I needed to release everything that drained me. As a leave I am reminded I am good enough, smart enough and strong enough. I am amazing!

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Do You

“Do what is best for your family, not what others will approve of.”

One of the most challenging tasks as a wife and a mother has been to do what is best for my family, not what I was conditioned to do growing up. Many of the women in my family frown when they realize I don’t iron my husband’s clothes or fix his plate or even better, I don’t hide the bags from my shopping sprees. They look at me with a side eye when they recognize I don’t know all of my son’s friends but I still allow him to visit and hang out. Heaven forbid the idea of sharing my thoughts and ideas with my therapist because what happens in your house should stay in your house.

Very early in my marriage my husband mistakenly thought I would do the things he saw my mother and his grandmother doing such as fixing their husbands’ plates or ironing their clothes for work. For years I refused with no explanation. Then one day I shared with him why I was opposed to these things. His grandmother did not work and when she did, she worked minimal hours. Therefore, she was not coming home exhausted everyday. His grandparents also had defined roles, His grandfather was the sole provider for the family and his grandmother was the caregiver and responsible for maintaining the household. We were not in that space so that didn’t work for us. In my household, my mother would fix my father’s plate unless she was mad at him, and on those days we, the kids, were made to fix it. I didn’t sign up for that task and would begrudgingly do it. Therefore, I grew up with a negative connotation of fixing plates. Because the concept never had a positive association, it was a “no” for me.

When I became a wife and I wanted to shop, I absolutely refused to hide the bags. I felt like I had gone to work and was worthy of rewarding myself. How dare I hide the shopping bags and suggest I didn’t find myself worthy enough of treating myself? I’m at a point now where I encourage women to show their husbands their shopping habits, as long as their spending is within their means. Show him how to treat you and honor you so when he wants to surprise you with a nice gift, he’ll know exactly what you like.

As kids, how many of us lied and said we were spending time with one friend when actually we were somewhere with a friend our parents didn’t know existed? Because of my own past, I don’t find it necessary to know everything about my son’s friends. However, he feels safe enough to tell me exactly where he’s going. Based on some of the things I did in the past, I could have come of missing because I lied about going with one friend that my parents knew and adored when actuality I was with a group of rugrats.

What are some things you saw growing up that you didn’t agree with so you had to adapt? Why do people still think certain things are customary and must be done in families? Do you always make your kids go to family functions with you? Does every member of the family have to eat dinner at the same time? Are their gender defined roles in your home? Share your thoughts below.

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Be All That You Can Be

“Be the mom you needed when you were growing up.”

As a child, I don’t believe we are fully aware of what we need from our mothers. We find comfort in having a place to stay, food to eat, clothes to wear and a selection of things we enjoy such as books and toys. As long as we’re functional, many of us fail to identify the things that are atypical because our lives look better than others. As a result, we grow up in complete dysfunction without realizing it.

Discipline was big in our household and it came in the form of a licking. Everything we did wrong was corrected with a belt and it took me years to understand this was not correction, this was abuse. Because I thought I turned out to be a decent human being, I believed this type of discipline was necessary. It showed “you were running the show” and you demanded respect. Luckily I learned early you can help your child make adjustments with a conversation or other forms of teaching. As a mother, I never spanked my child for a first time offense. I figured the problem could be rectified by talking about it. And by middle school, I figured loss of privileges was sufficient enough punishment. As a result, my son became comfortable with acknowledging many of his mistakes because he knew he wouldn’t be tormented for living and learning.

Say encouraging words. As mentioned in a previous post, my mom showed up for every event but never said an encouraging word. She never said anything motivational or gave me a pat on the back to suggest a job well done. But remember, I was punished for everything I did wrong. So, I went through life striving for perfection when the only thing in my reach was excellence. Nothing I did was ever good enough because my mom didn’t tell me it was good enough. With everything my child does, no matter how poorly he might perform, I find something to highlight. As a college student-athlete, he still seeks me in hope of being uplifted when he’s not at his best. He understands there are good days and bad days but every day he rises he has another chance to get to get it right.

Take care of you. This might sound selfish but we’ve heard the phrase, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” My mom did so much with us, she never learned how to live a life of her own. Now that we’re adults, she still tries to control aspects of our lives. She still tries to take care of us although she struggles to manage her own affairs. As much as I want to do every little thing for my son, I have to pause and do things that are necessary for my sanity. This helps me give my son the best that I have.

Be a family. Other than a few outdoor activities together, which was usually someone’s sporting event, we were six different people living under one roof. Children had no say in any household decisions. We didn’t pay bills so we didn’t have opinions that needed to be shared. Family decisions were made by two people. Children were to be seen and not heard. We, my husband and I, encourage our son to have input on many things in our household. As he has gotten older, this has helped him with his decision making process as a young adult.

These are just a few things that have helped in my development as a mother and in my son’s growth. I’m glad I realized as much as I appreciated my mom, I didn’t agree with much of her parenting. The changes have been beneficial to every member in my household. And while, I’m not perfect, I know I’m striving to do right by the gift I’ve been blessed with. What are some privileges you’ve given your child that you didn’t have? What did you find to be the benefit? Or, did you raise your child the exact same way you were raised?

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Trust and Believe

“I hope you believe in yourself as much as they believe in you, I hope you trust yourself as much as they trust you, and I hope you love yourself, as much as they love you.”

Being a parent has been one of the most rewarding feats in my life. I recall being an expectant parent, thinking at the age of 27 I was too young to have a child and then feeling very afraid that I would fail at parenting and nurturing a child. I thought I needed more babysitting experience or more time working with my “school children” to gain more capabilities to become a fit mother. While carrying my child, I searched for parenting manuals and books to help me understand what I needed to do to “get it right”. And then I realized most parents are just winging it.

One of the first things I learned is that no matter how many mistakes I made as a parent, I had to pick up the pieces and try again. There was a little one looking to me for guidance and protection. More importantly, there was a little one needing me to love with everything in me. I had to grasp the idea that children truly watch their parents and emulate their behaviors. This forced me to appear strong on days when I was weary. Pretending became the norm for me. From pretending I had the concept of breast feeding to pretending I understood everything there was to know about schooling and the curriculum that went along with it. And in the midst of this, I recognized my child was hanging on to every word, as if what I said was golden.

Because my child believed in me, I had to learn to believe in myself. I had to learn to trust who I was, Whose I was and remember all that I was capable of doing. I loved myself even on those days I didn’t think I was worthy of love because I knew it was the only way to love my son unconditionally. I couldn’t put out something that wasn’t in me.

As my child has grown into a young adult, I can definitely say I am proud of the young man I have sent out into the world. I’ve learned to apologize, own up to my faults (most of them) and more importantly, ask for forgiveness while forgiving myself. If anyone thinks this parenting job is easy and only for 18 years, they don’t have a clue. It will forever be a process for me because I won’t stop until I become the mom I needed and/or wanted when I was younger.

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Is Kindness Overrated?

Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate

Growing up I was taught to be kind to others. We were told to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We learned to turn the other cheek. We were groomed to not give in to people’s antics and give them the power to shift who we were and who we were striving to be. “Don’t give them the power to anger you.”, they said. “Kill them with kindness.” But, is kindness really the answer to everything?

When thinking of kindness and the acts associated with being kind, the one thing that is left out is that kindness requires you to do favors and be one of selflessness. Constantly being kind is draining and it can turn you into a “yes ma’am/sir” type of person when you would really want to be a, “HELL NO!” type of gal.

There is power in kindness. Being kind has the ability to inspire others. Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion. But kindness can be seen as a sign of weakness. It’s a gift that is often exploited. Takers will take as long as givers give. And in the end, one’s kindness is easily taken for granted.

People that are kind rarely ask for help because they’re always helping others. Being kind often takes away your time and resources, and you can’t properly take care of yourself mentally or physically. More often than not, you end up burnt out.

So is it worth putting your own health in jeopardy in an effort to care for others. Is your self-worth attached to your willingness to be caring and considerate? Is it a necessity to feel needed? Why is being kind so important? If I take care of me and I’m not being ill-mannered towards you, is that not enough? Let’s start by being kind to ourselves so we can honestly and sincerely become more loving and affectionate towards others. Let’s learn to respond to others out of love instead of obligation.

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Straight to the Point

She believed she could so she did. And, she has no intentions of stopping.

Just a friendly reminder today, if you want it, it’s yours to have.

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