When I see something, hear something or read something, I like to share. Some consider it gossip when you are talking about others, but in this case, it is not. You need to be careful today to make sure you fact check, but this is the truth!

Dan Rockwell, a.k.a. Leadership Freak, is one of the first people I learned about while working with my friend Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence. He has such great insight on leadership!

I want to share his latest blog with you because it is a simple, but spot on approach that follows my structure of asking questions to guide yourself when making choices or decisions.

So many times, at the end of a day, we can feel defeated as we have those negative thoughts and find the negative self-talk remarks on our way home. The day may not have gone the way we wanted. You experienced some difficult conversations, and the list can go on. Regret, anger, sadness, and all the emotions fill up your mind as you replay the scenes of the day.

Dan Rockwell has written the blog for you! Follow the steps he provides to stop the negative thoughts and shift you mind to re-think the day.

Did you know you could set up your playlist to support you unwind, rewind or windup? I have selected music playlists to encourage me with whatever situation I may be experiencing, so I can improve myself to be ready for the next part of my agenda (welcoming of the school day, difficult meetings, end of the day, workout, inspiration). I have found several songs about smile. Not only that, but I consider it is always important to smile even when you assume you have nothing to smile about. This is coming from a lady who was in a semi and car crash which did a great deal of damage to many things, especially me! I went without many teeth for two years as they worked on doing bone graphs and implants for 13 teeth. So please smile.

Living with principles in confusing times……..

The new year came in January, and now we are facing forward in February, deciding what to prioritize, sorting out options, and choosing directions. Facing February can bring conflicting pressures when we are still focused on things from yesterday and not sure of what is happening in our corner of the world.

Our need for clarity to plan for tomorrow is very high. It also helps us to have a little guidance with guidelines and goals. In order to get to establish goals we need to push away the negative thoughts, those who add confusion and uncertainty to our lives. If we try to take on everything, we will fail at everything. However, if we focus on specifics, the path forward becomes more apparent.

Living in the world today, we will always find complications, barriers, and challenges. These things will question our thoughts, thinking, values, and choices. It is those who know the principles, core values, and beliefs they have which will provide the foundation to stand firm on.

Identify your principles

Principles are the foundation for a system of behavior and reasoning and, most important a standard of belief. Leadership principles are the common denominator in your organization. Principles influence how leaders show up daily and how others react to their leadership style.

Our life will always present our challenges, barriers, and choices. It is in our choices we find the path we take. As we travel the path, more opportunities are provided for choices as our thoughts are challenged, and our core values keep our footing so we stand firm. Focusing on our principles keeps us doing what’s right and helps us shine bright. Keep being the solution in a world that needs you.

Power generates a great deal of conversation. When you see the word power, what is the first thing you think of? The power we use daily, the power we seek to have, the power of others, or how to gain power?

Power to Fuel Our Daily Lives

So what is the best source of power to utilize daily in our lives? I think there is a big picture to look at and a solution that requires a depth of asking more questions without making quick decisions.

Power we seek

It is our nature to seek power as we want to control things within our reach. Think about children who say “no” I don’t want to eat corn. Then the negotiations begin and choices. “Take two bites.”

Power can be supersized with the images of “super hero’s with superpowers.” You will see good vs. evil in the battles of powers. Power can be used for good and can be abused for bad. It is always based on the foundation my philosophy in education, “choices.” We can choose how we do, what we say, and the efforts of the power we have to influence others. Adding value to others is key in recognizing who is seeking to make a difference and the power they gain is not a priority in the journey they are traveling.

Power of others

Our choice of “why” we seek power determines the “who” we become as leaders. In research and in many articles, you will find discussions about leaders who seek control of those who they work with to increase productivity, increase test scores, improve attendance, and many issues the organization is facing with harsh demands and threats. Do we have relationships with others in power which is positive for us or negative? Do we need to look at ourselves to understand our choice to stay with those who are abusive with their power?

I often warn about the power of others and having a movement of “group think.” It is critical in education to build skills for children to understand the power they have and how to handle this power. Education is something we do with children, not to them. We want answer seekers and not answer getters to promote a regurgitation of the same answers. Allowing students to talk about the problems they are solving helps in promoting agency, innovation, problem solving and risk taking. In our workforce, we want a generation fueled with the power of open-mindedness, ambition, creativity, determination, and grit.

Gaining Power

Understanding how power works is the first step in learning to gain power. Power is not in holding a position of authority. This does not give you the power to make a change. We see people in positions of authority, and we watch, read and hear about the misuse of the positions. It does not matter what political party you belong to; you will find the misuse of positions throughout history and current positions throughout the land.

Power can change individuals, I believe, for the better and sometimes not. It is in the strong character traits each individual has, along with the core values they hold, which will continue to guide them through. If you genuinely want to make a change begin by:

Power is the fuel we give it. If there is someone abusing their power, be the one to stand up and not let them get by with it. We cannot be bystanders but upstanders for the power of good to make positive changes in our world. I cannot do it, but we can.

Are we back to normal yet? What is normal? Many of the challenges and frustrations before the pandemic remain. In addition to those, we find many more to add to them. These factors deplete our emotional reserves and leave us feeling empty and deflated.

We just had a holiday break, and many found themselves looking at prices of items way out of reach, gas prices costing too much to travel, and airline issues to time along with costs worth the travel—all of this adding onto the layers of disappointment. The symptoms of frequent periods of tiredness, feelings of separation and loneliness may be mild at times or intense after the holidays. These times are all warnings to use it is time to replenish our reserves!

The truth is obvious; we can not be our best at anything until we care for our emotional well-being. Many think of quick-fix “remedies” or “prescriptions” to find a healthy emotional state. There are no things people can prescribe to you to “fix” your emotional state of mind. You control your state of mind, and this is how you want it to be. I can provide several tips to guide you, but it is you and the power of choice which decides.

Prescription for Healthy Life

It is cold in my area right now but getting out and enjoying a beautiful stroll in our park is something I enjoy. I love nature, and taking time to look at the beauty around us with appreciation fills my cup each day. Doing things for others is magical. It is even better when they have no idea where it comes from. Living life simply, giving to others, and knowing all of the storms we see shall pass to bring beautiful rainbows with promises for a better tomorrow.

To change the lives of others

Today marks my anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is my first anniversary, and I am cancer free. If you have experienced cancer, you know it is never too far from your mind. At the beginning of the diagnosis, it was all I could think of, and then it lessened.

Many people have stories of days that trigger a memory. Memories can be good; some are happy, and others are traumatic. Dates can trigger memories of events, a smell, or a sound. There are many ways to trigger a memory to the surface, and we have no control when it comes.

Our brains are our control center, and we can help in learning ways to help respond when we find ourselves in situations involving a trigger. The holidays are when we have many people who experience difficulties, so please check on those you know will have issues this year due to losing a loved one or an illness.

Dr. Tranel was one of the experts who assessed me after my accident in 2010, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Meeting him and going to his Iowa facility was a memorable event for me. My husband drove me, and we stayed overnight. The testing I cannot remember all of them, but I can recall all of the different rooms and equipment. In one of the testing rooms, I was placed in front of a big screen and told I would be viewing some video clips. The purpose of the testing was to measure my emotions. Other testing completed that day looked at my ability to smell and executive functions, to name a few of the comprehensive testing conducted.

Not to make this all about my test results, but my injuries did result in the loss of emotions, smell, taste and other deficiencies. My point in sharing this information is this:

Even if a traumatic brain injury is not the diagnosis of individuals in your classrooms, trauma over time can impact children's brains as they grow. “Trauma in early childhood can result in disrupted attachment, cognitive delays, and impaired emotional regulation. Also, the overdevelopment of certain pathways and the underdevelopment of others can lead to impairment later in life.” (Perry, 1995)

“The human brain is designed to sense, process, store, perceive, and act on information from the external and the internal environment. All of these complex systems and activities work together for one overarching purpose—survival” (Goldstein, 1995 cited in Perry, et al., 1995). The impact of trauma on brain development is reported in a new study that traumatic or stressful events in childhood may lead to tiny changes in key brain structures that can now be identified decades later.

My plea today is no different than it has been for decades now. We need more mental health support for our children. Training and support for schools are needed as well. These recommendations come from my personal and professional experience. The behaviors we see in classrooms are, most of the time, a result of the effects of trauma.

Ever had a child pushed all of the papers off the desk? I pushed all the papers off the desk in one of my therapy sessions. I cannot believe I did that, but I did. Totally not in my personality, character, or what I would have allowed happening in my classroom. However, now I understand the level of frustration and the inability to process how to handle it. This incident occurred early in my treatment, but I can remember the day.

Every choice we make has a consequence in life, and we need to teach children this early in their life. However, we need to meet them where they are and provide the resources, support, and guidance they need as they grow to develop the skills they need.

Respect, trust, and responsibility are the first basic skills we work on in Two Rules. We all must work on them to make the differences we want to see reflected in our schools, homes, and communities.

Everyone has a story to tell, and I have many. I believe I have been given many opportunities in life to learn to pass on to others. My injuries are not something you can see or identify. I have been provided with many ways to continue strengthening myself and building. It is me who defines who I am and not the titles given in life, names of illnesses or injuries. Please pick up your pen and continue to write your story to share with others as we help in growing a better tomorrow than today. Be the solution daily in a world so thankful you are in it!

My father-in-law was a man of very few words. He always made me nervous. My husband and I began dating when we were in high school. At 16, I guess I was a little worried about many things in life.

One of the phrases I remember he said was, “If you do not like my apples, don’t shake my tree.” During our many years together, we faced many heartaches and challenging times. My father-in-law passed away in 1997.

As I reflect on the many issues facing our country, communities, schools, and families, it seems the apples have fallen from the tree. We have been shaking many of the same issues repeatedly without a solution. Education is being hit hard with a great deal of shaking.

I do not listen to the TV on most days, and in the evenings, we try to catch up on the day's news. However, I cannot listen to all of the leaders push agendas again and hear the same things repeatedly.


See words standing all alone makes no sense to anyone. They fill up space on a page and float in the air. Unless we can connect them to something with an action, they remain in space.


It is another word with meaning but still stands alone in space unconnected. It can be used to buy many things, but what does it do once you buy it? Yet we continue to throw it out like words without concrete connections to robust solutions. The sustainability of programs is fueled by money, but answers do not come from money alone.

When will we stop shaking the trees? All the apples have fallen, been picked up, and tossed around, and nothing new has been found. The seeds have been replanted to take root in hopes apples will grow to bring new solutions.

It is now time for winter, and we have time now to begin our plans. We need to connect our thoughts, resources, needs, systems, and supports to reach our final goals. It is not in one single word, one single person or group, but a system of gears working together to produce the best results together for the best outcomes.

Join me in learning how to help our students learn:

We must look at the barriers our students face, like poverty, and address their needs as whole children. There are no excuses but explanations of the “why” in behavior and learning. We can find the right path and solutions with partnerships as we work together.

I do not do these every Sunday, but I try to do them when needed. December is the best time to have “Spiritual Sunday,” but also a Making Monday Meaningful, Tuesday Terrific, Wednesday Wonderful, Thursday Thankful, Friday Forgiving, and Saturday Stress-free. December is a special month, and I find myself calm, joyful, and reflective during this time.

Being strong, courageous, and not afraid is so powerful when they are spoken in one sentence together. To accomplish them together takes the power of belief, hope, and love. Prayer is powerful, and when we consistently pray and are focused on the path God has directed for us, everything becomes clear, and support will be found. We can do all things!

When you look at Patching Holes, it brings a visual to your mind of a hole. Then the word patching indicates this will be a temporary fix for this hole which will remain to exist.

I have been involved in education for over 25 years. I can testify we have been working on patching holes the entire time. When we meet to discuss the results of the test scores results reported each year, the same things come up in the discussions.

Those are the basic go-to patching holes all school districts address. If I have missed any, please feel free to share it with us.

There have been new approaches, new curriculum materials, lots of professional development, and no improvements. Taking time to look deeper into these issues is what is needed as we now find ourselves leading out of a global pandemic with students who have lost two years of academic, self-awareness, social-awareness, and foundational skills.

What is the solution?

There is a process to follow in making the best decisions for those we serve. It cannot be one school, some schools, all schools, but schools, families, and communities working together to develop plans to support the entire child as we help them build up; it takes legislators to fund schools adequately across all states and locations equally. All areas must have high-quality connections and equipment to serve students.

We do not need to patch the holes in education; we must fix them today. Education is not a political game, and it has cost generations of quality education.

Everyone has two basic needs to have filled. They need to feel good and safe. Let’s begin with my Two Rules in helping all schools, homes and communities with feeling good and safe. What does that look like and sound like?

These are just a few of the points, to begin with, helping to bring action items to the table to start establishing safety. There is a great deal of work to do, but this is the beginning of not patching holes but establishing foundations.

Curriculum in education seems to be something people are talking about right now. However, we are not talking about the right points of curriculum. We need to puch asside all of these extra topics which is adding layers and layers of work to the teachers, not to mention taking time away from students who are two years on average behind in the foundational skills they need in order to become successful in their lives. Children are not reading at grade level and they are not at grade level for math. These are two critical points which must be addressed today. Look at the data. We have seen an overall decline for years. Even those who were at level or above, were not making the gains they should have been based on their skill sets. Can we refocus our efforts on helping students learn foundational skills?


If you do not have trust in any relationship or environment, there is no chance it will last or work.

Have you ever worked in an environment where you did not trust those you worked with or worked for? If you have, you know exactly how it feels. While listening to an individual tell her story of the situation she had just been through, as tears formed in her eyes, my heart sank. No one needs to ever go through a time when they feel like this, making a choice over themselves or those they serve and deciding who they can trust.

It isn't easy in your work life when there is no trusting environment. You do not feel like you can take those risks to do extraordinary things for those you serve. Sometimes you are asked to do things you know are not right. What do you do when your boss tells you to do something you know is incorrect, does not follow legal guidelines, and is not in the best interest of those you serve? Do you do it to keep your job or not?

In the business world, education, and organizations, people work with us based on our reputations. It takes years to build up who we are, our beliefs, and our core values. Can an individual have enough influence to make others believe something untrue about you? I found an article that is not something I would typically select to read. However, it was fun to read, and the points below come from the article.

How do you know if your boss is working against you?

I have to say, I have had a boss with most of the above points. The article provides information on how to deal with these points. Excuse the language, especially in the title. It does get your attention.

Trust is an integral part of every relationship. As a boss or leader, you are gaining the trust of those you serve and it is the most crucial part of your work. Keeping that trust is what you work to do each day. When you are working in a high-stress level job or doing a job where knowing those above you and beside you will be there to support you is critical.

Everyone wants to feel good and safe while working to accomplish those two needs; trust has to be present. A friend shared the graphic below, and I think it represents leadership. What it should be and should not be.

"I only have 2 rules!"
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