The Power of Youth

 Today I had not one, but MANY mothers come up to me and thank me for requiring their children to do a personal finance project.

“It has taught [my student] the harsh realities of life.”

*sigh*

And I walked away feeling very deflated.

In all honesty I could not, with any sense of personal integrity due to the nature of this class, avoid doing this project.  That said, it was truly a personal struggle to make it happen, and it was for this very reason that I was so hesitant to require it.

I have been inundated with conversations of late about how hard this teenager is going to have it or that teenager, or those hypothetical few that fall into *that* category.  (Pregnancy, young marriage, medical issues, pick your poison.)

According to all the adults with whom I am forced to suffer these conversations all I hear over and over again is:

“They won’t be able to do it.”

“Oh, don’t expect them to be able to adapt to that change!”

“It’s too hard!”

“What were they thinking?!”

and on and on. . .

My favorite is, “They don’t know what that will require from them.”  At least that one is completely accurate, and God bless them for their ignorance.

The others are a bunch of old-fogey junk!

I mean, “Hello??!!”  Well over 98% of the people I have these conversations with, I know how their adult life started out, and yet they somehow made it.

Because:

Youth is highly adaptable.

Youth is truly optimistic.

Youth has the power of imagination and belief that it can be better.

Youth has the ability to rise again, even if they have been beat down repeatedly.

Why do so many of us with the *wisdom* of age refuse to acknowledge those very simple truths?  Think of the many very young mothers that somehow raised families.  Think of the young men who provided for those families.  Think of Alexander the Great, who died when he was about 30.  What about Civil Rights?  Was it a bunch of old people (or even middle-aged) marching the streets demanding change?

What truly scares me is the number of parents who see everything as an impossibility for their youth making excuses for their offspring.  Or worse, preventing certain things from occurring on the pretext of saving their children from these challenges.

Gosh darn it, CHALLENGE YOUR KIDS!  Provide them with an opportunity to grow.  Let them learn the power of success in spite of change or difficulties.  Let them learn the pain of failure, for it is often through those failures that the most is attained.

I want to scream to teens and young adults alike, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” (courtesy of Ms. Frizzle)

Today I was congratulated on helping the teens in my class get a “grasp on reality”.

To those teens, and all others:

“Reality” will come soon enough.  Until then, reach for your stars.  Make things happen.  Go for the impossible.  Achieve all and more that those who are older than you say is beyond your grasp.

You have the enviable power of youth.  Do not squander it.

My Pal, Insecurity

I’d like to introduce you to a very close friend of mine, Insecurity.  We have a knot that ties us together that is the result of a life-long bond.  Through thick and thin, Insecurity has always been here with me.

My husband has been known to tell me on occasion that Insecurity plays with him also.  This is akin to the puddle saying to the ocean, “Look, we are both bodies of water!”  True, yet so vastly different as to be laughable.

It is interesting, because I am forever telling my children that they need to exude confidence.  Mind you, I don’t tell them they need confidence, just that others need to perceive that they have it.  Personally, I don’t believe that you can “create” confidence where none exists, but I do believe that you can fake it really well.

I also believe it is incredibly important to be able to fake it.  People who appear confident are leaders.  Others will listen, and follow, those that appear confident.  And, regardless of whether or not confidence is a friend of yours, it is easy to fake.

So, I tell my children,

  • “Stand up straight.”
  • “Speak strongly and clearly.”
  • “Look people in the eye.”
  • “Give a firm handshake.”

This list seems overly simple, doesn’t it?  Mmm-hmm.  Take a look at all the leaders you know, and tell me in which of those areas they falter.  And what’s amazing is that they could totally be faking it.

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a book:

I picked it up to read it shortly after receiving it, but then put it quickly back down.  The thing is, I don’t know that I want to be rid of insecurity; nor, do I necessarily feel that it has been “a bad friend”.  In fact, I would argue that I am a better person because of my insecurities, not in spite of it.

Think about it for a minute.  Because I am fellows with insecurity I question how I do things, I am constantly striving to improve.  I question relationships and whether they will make me stronger.  I question all the whys and hows and wherefores in an effort to excel.  (The trick, I will readily admit, is knowing when to stop.)

Go a step further:  How many “naturally confident” people do you know that need a book entitled, “Lose your confidence, because you have no reason to believe you’re that good.”

I seem to know a number of people like that. . .   Personally, I think they lack something that allows them to feel the insecurity they should.

Anyhoo

Insecurity and I are off to play today.  We are going to try something new and different in our school day and I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out.  I’ve already picked my pen so I can write notes on how to improve in the margins.

It’s a disease — possibly two of them

I have spent the better portion of my day working on school scheduling.

Based on what I have heard from others they find this task, at best, tedious and irksome.  I don’t feel comfortable saying what they think of it “at worst”.

I, on the other hand, feel an immense sense of joy in the feat.  Mind you, not merely satisfaction, but JOY.

I imagine it much like an artist looking upon their work in a museum, or a composer hearing his piece played within a symphony hall.  Or a young child, having satisfactorily created *something* that they bring in to share with others; to share their joy.

That is the feeling I get upon completing a school schedule.

It’s a sickness, I confess.  And, best of all, I didn’t finish, so I get to work on it again tomorrow!

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Some have been vocally wondering why I haven’t been writing on here as frequently as in times past.

Well, I’ve been having serious issues with that you see, because I’m coming across people who I deal with face-to-face on a fairly regular basis that actually read my blog.  It freaks me out and gives me an anxiety attack like you would not believe!  I mean, what if I accidentally “spill” something, or say something nasty, or rude, or tactless, or. . .

Because I do you know.  You should see my editing process!  I type out a lengthy dissertation, and spill my guts, then go back and say things like, “Oh, someone could take this the wrong way.” (delete)  “This wasn’t worded very nice.” (delete)  “Would someone else see this as questionable?” (delete)

And so it goes, until lo-and-behold I’ve nothing left to post accept my signature.

That, then, leads to all sorts of internal questioning such as, “Is my signature all that I am?”  Which is very depressing indeed.  But, that’s a whole ‘nuther disorder of mine, I’m sure.  I’ll keep that for another day.

Posturing

Some of my very favorite books are full of intrigue, suspense, and obscure meanings, (like one would see in diplomatic speech).

For example:

“I hope you can appreciate the fact that I am really not in a position to make serious changes in the government at the moment.” Drop dead.

“Please, I wasn’t suggesting that. I fully appreciate your situation. My hope was to allay at least one supposed problem, to make your task easier.” Or I could make it harder.

-from Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

I truly appreciate when the intended meanings are put in italics too as they would otherwise, most likely, be lost on me. I simply don’t speak/think that way. It would require training for me to get to that level of understanding.

My speech (verbiage and understanding) is very much like my driving. I actually use turn signals, and such to signal my intent. There should, in my mind, be no doubt in another’s mind as to what I’m actually doing.

Not so, other drivers in our state! Therefore, when our kids turn about 15 I start instruction on “vehicle body language”.

It usually starts something like this:

“Just what do you think that idiot is about to attempt to do?”

Towards the end of the child’s “training” I can expect,

“Well, due to lack of any signals whatsoever, I couldn’t tell you. They are in the left-hand turn only lane (which, you would think, would mean something); yet, their wheels are cranked in the complete opposite direction, and they keep throwing up furtive looks in their review mirror every few seconds. Therefore, the nut-jobs are going to attempt to cross three lanes of moving traffic and make a right-hand turn.”

We learn similar skills in body language too.

“Posturing” sets the ground work for identifying the “path” or the direction one wishes to travel.

In case you don’t recall, I wrote this post about how difficult I was finding it to determine how I wanted to lead a unit study class.

Well, nearly half-way through the course, I have FINALLY figured out my “posture”.

It’s about time!

New Year Blues

I just posted on Facebook that today, Dec. 31, 2013, I am already feeling behind for the year 2014.

Then, I got mad.  I mean really irritated with myself.  It’s one thing to feel overwhelmed at a new prospect in your life, but to feel behind before it ever starts?  That’s insane.

Course, if there is one thing I’ve learned in the past year is that insanity is a dear friend of mine.

So, I went for another cup of coffee and some perspective.  Whatever happened with “out with the old and in with the new”?  I used to feel that way about the New Year transition.  What happened that this year I see no distinction in the period?

I’m blaming it on school.  It’s totally school’s fault.  I mean think about it, “school” transverses the year boundary.  It starts in August, for heaven’s sake!  And then continues until June or July.

Course, if this logic were to pan out, one would wonder *why* after double digits of homeschooling this is just now affecting my New Year transitions?

So, maybe it isn’t school’s fault.

However, it dawned on me, that if it was truly school’s fault, I just got lucky!  Because right before Christmas we had pretty much stopped everything at specific end points.  End of chapter tests, end of periods in history, end of one reading book and the other ready for service, etc.  Therefore, mentally, I should be able to start the New Year fresh.  (Except for music.  Music, I had started the one idea, but have not run it to completion.  I could re-start it, as I think I’ve only done one lesson.  Kind of like that idea.)

But, what if it isn’t truly school?

Maybe it’s the fact that I still have unfinished projects in the house.

Well, that stinks, cuz all the projects I have that are ongoing are too time-consuming to fit into a day (a week, or even a month).

I do have a couple of projects that I haven’t even started yet, that I meant to be Christmas gifts. . .I think I will wait to start them tomorrow and then they can just become “because I love you” gifts.

I’m thinking, by now, it should be readily apparent just how “mental” I truly am.

I suspect, though, that it’s something “deeper”.  I will have to ponder this throughout the day (with copious quantities of coffee).

Hit Refresh

I’m feeling a bit *blah*.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been feeling *blah* for a while now. . .  As in a number of years.

Not depressed. . .just blah.  (Course, now this is sounding depressing.)

Once upon a time I really got into the Seasons.  Christmas was my all time favorite, but the others all held joy too.  Now, too frequently, it is merely another chore.  Expectations to be upheld to make others happy whilst I wear myself out.

Once upon a time, I cross-stitched each and every Christmas Card that was sent out!  Can you believe it?  Yeah, that was insane.  It only lasted a year though because when I went to visit my Grandmother the following summer she said something along the lines of, “It just killed me to throw away that beautiful Christmas card you bought.”

I used to write Christmas poems that told about the happenings in our family for that year, and place them in a card.  But, according to my husband that wasn’t good enough, each card had to have a personalized note to be hand-written inside to each family cards were sent to, otherwise it was considered too impersonal.  I think that year I sent out over 78 Christmas cards, and that doesn’t include those given to those who were local to us.

I don’t do Christmas cards at all anymore.

Once upon a time, Leprechauns visited our house every spring.  Those little devils, left little gold-dusted footprints everywhere and wreaked havoc anywhere they could reach.  The only reason traps were never set for the little buggers was because they always left a little pot of gold for each of the kids in the house.  (When touched by human hands the gold turned into chocolates, which never seem to dismay the youngsters.)

Once upon a time Easter was celebrated with much ado.  It’s a happy coincidence it also occurs in springtime as with such a joy of re-birth in the air it was a grand time to be creative.

Once upon a time Halloween was grand.  Forget the costumes and trick-or-treating.  Halloween parties were always the bomb!

And, once upon a time I used to decorate for fall and my now-new favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  Did not happen this year.

I see all the lovely Holiday posts and all the pump and pizazz, and all I want to do is ba-humbug everything and hide in a cave with twinkly lights.  (Don’t ask where that came from: the cave to be hidden away I suppose, but I’ve always loved the look of twinkly lights when it’s pitch dark.)

So, I’m looking to find my Holiday “refresh” button.  I know it’s gotta be around here somewhere.  Once I find it, I’m going to hit refresh.

It works for the computer after all.