A Six Year Old’s Simple Rules of Life

August 1, 2016 by  
Filed under My Writing

Each summer, I’m lucky to spend a week or two with my niece and I am always amazed. It’s a refreshing perspective to watch the world through a young one’s eyes. When Skylar is purposely focused, creating a detailed, drawn-out story around something as seemingly minuscule as a stick outside, for instance, I gain insight into what it means to truly live in the moment and experience life passionately.

Skylar likes to write poetry, she loves to make up stories and she relishes in make-believe. She even creates her own language complete with definitions. On one particular day of  playing school this summer, “teacher” Sky told “student” Auntie T there are a few rules everyone must live by. Wow, she’s wise beyond her years. I was so intrigued that I felt compelled to write these down. I asked Sky if I could mark these on this blog. Of course, that brought up a whole new conversation on blogging. She couldn’t wait to tell mom and dad! 🙂

My niece and I at THROWN ELEMENTS, a paint-your-own pottery place in Arlington Heights, IL

At THROWN ELEMENTS, a paint-your-own pottery place in Arlington Heights, IL

Skylar’s Rules

  1. Laugh every day. Skylar’s right – laughter is indeed the best medicine. We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and core, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster. It’s a mild workout, if you will, for your psyche. Come to think, I just looked this up and found a laughter researcher (what a happy job!), William Fry, who claimed it takes ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter. I’m not so sure that exact amount of time holds true for everyone – I know my own heart rate elevates more rapidly during exercise. In any case, there’s no argument to the claim that laughter does wonders for us.
These two share the same birthday. They had to meet - it's a special day!!!

Sky with her new friend, Henry: these two share the same birthday – it’s a special day!!!

2. Be happy. This one truly is a choice . . . Skylar gets it right again! According to Thérèse Jacobs-Stewart, whether we realize it or not, we choose the thoughts that run through our heads and, thus, can choose feelings of happiness. Thoughts turn to our reality. I always err on the happy side. How about you?!


3. Listen to mom and dad, not strangers. This one was music to her parent’s ears. Young or old, we should all listen more carefully to what our parents are saying or said, and be grateful for our time with them, shouldn’t we? As for the strangers, it’s important to make friends but take heed of those that don’t follow the rules on this page.

Children are so good at making fast friends.

Children are so good at making fast friends.

4. Don’t be mad or sad. I agree with Sky that we can choose to not be mad or sad. Recognize and ride out those feelings but don’t let them take over. Forgive, keep on keeping, and be grateful for what you have. Holding onto the smallest ounce of negativity toward the past can lead to losing precious people in our lives.



5. Always, always, always LOL. She actually used the acronym when she said this one. I love how she came full circle, back to laughter. She indeed recognizes its significance. So there you have it, life as it should be according to a six-year old. It really is this simple. Period. Sometimes we need a young one to remind us.

At 2Toots Train Whistle Grill in Bartlett, IL

At 2TOOTS TRAIN WHISTLE GRILL in Bartlett, IL where they serve food on a train!

One Cannot Earn an F in Life

January 13, 2011 by  
Filed under My Writing

It’s that time of year at many schools, the end of the semester, the point in the school year during which teachers hear all too often too late, the infamous question, “What can I do to raise my grade?”  I get that same sensation of despair when a student earns an F as I did back as a first year teacher.  Even after all the extra encouragements, the extra times before or after class, the reminders, the talking and emailing parents, the tutoring . . . . we teachers can’t help but wonder what more could be done . . . it’s the nature of the beast of the biz.

The fact is that we ultimately teach the students NOT the subject.  Before she hired me, the principal of my school (now our superintendent!) asked me which I teach – no brainer – I instantly declared the students.   Yes, we have a curriculum to follow but it is the life lessons that students walk away with that help shape them into the bright, capable young adults they soon become.

Case in point . . . one of my sophomore reading students, upset over his grades and the realization he completed too little too late, wrote himself off as a failure.  I stopped him right in his tracks today and asked him, “Did you know there’s no such thing as failing in life?  You absolutely cannot fail.”  He shot back a quizzical stare as I continued to explain that, yes, he may have to attend summer school or take a class he doesn’t want to take, but under no circumstances that matter in life can he ever truly fail.  He may stumble as he is stumbling now with his grades but he can use that despair to push himself forward.

A young man may break an arm but perhaps gain some more mobility in the other arm and appreciate dexterity all the more when the break heals.  A driver may get lost but discover an uncharted road with special sights she may never have seen had she not taken the wrong turn.  A woman may lose something, have something taken away at a time she believes she cannot do without it.  Something else eventually replaces the loss, something special she may not have gained otherwise.

In other words . . . regardless of what happens, when it happens, or how it happens, the one thing one absolutely cannot do is fail.  Live and learn is a cliché but it’s the truth.  Our hardest stumbles can lead to our greatest triumphs.  Yes, some of us even gain scars from those stumbles but all scars fade as time goes on.  We can live peacefully with those scars and move on.

We may not always get an A in school or an A on a GG review,  🙂 but we cannot fail in life.  Move through every experience and situation with grace, knowing your success is assured.