Thursday, March 9, 2017

Habit of the Week - Persistence

Persistence ~  The ability to stick with something in spite of opposition, obstacles, or discouragement.

I look back on so many memories with my buddy Chester.  When I ponder the word persistence....I think of a school-age-boy who was probably 9 or 10 years old when we first met at Schreiber Pediatric Hospital in PA.   He was a  young man who struggled greatly with reaching his goals, or perhaps even thinking he had the abilities to reach beyond his current circumstances.  His very wise therapist helped this young man by setting a difficult but achievable goal, the goal of running 1 mile ~ a goal that seemed in the boy's mind to be out of reach.

Week after week this young man would practice.  Week after week this young man would get stuck at the half mile mark.  The task ahead would become too big. And he would quit, usually with a huge meltdown.  He needed an extra dose of strength body.mind.spirit.

And that dose came in the form a four legged friend named Chester.   It really was Chester, who helped this young boy get his eyes off of himself and on toward victory. Sometimes, it helps to walk, or run, alongside a smiling, trotting, tail-wagging-high, never.give.up, kind of best friend.

Persistence paid off. Our young friend made his finish line goal with hands raised, a smile across his face from ear to ear, a ribbon trailing across his chest, and heaps of new-found confidence in his spirit ..... & a panting golden retriever at his side. The entire staff at the hospital, family and friends, cheered with abandon!

That day is forever in my memory.

And the day I shared this story with my Almond Acres a forever memory as well!  When I told the story of my PA friend crossing the finish line for the very first time, these California students clapped and cheered!  

Stories are meant to be shared. To inspire. To help us persist when the going gets tough. To remind we are not alone.  To remind us of what we are capable of doing, even when we think we can't...and that sometimes we might need a friend to help us  reach our goals, to cheer us on.

My friend at Schreiber Hospital would be thrilled to know that his struggle, which became his story of persistence and success, is touching lives like ripples in a pond ~~ going on and on to inspire others to cross their own finish lines.  



Habit of the Week ~ Looking Back

Looking Back .....
"An ounce of memory along with an ounce of courage launches brains forward and pushes on to great achievement." Bob Bourgault, Principal Almond Acres Charter Academy 

“Everything we do seeds the future.  No action is an empty one.” - Joan Chittister


This week I thought it would be fun for the students to remember Chester stories, lessons learned and moments remembered. The students were amazing! What magnificent memories! Hands popped up everywhere with Chester memories from these past weeks together.  And their journal writings reflected so many great Chester lessons. Some students even snuck in a few memories that I was unaware of .....  Like the 4th grade boy who could not go on a field trip because of a yucky awful painful headache :( . He lay in the office with hoodie over his head, resting for most of the morning.  His memory of that day, petting Chester. He wrote that Chester was the best part of his day. (And I thought we were just checking in at the office for business reasons :)  )

This day of LOOKING BACK will be a day I will look back on with fondness....... remembering that what we do truly makes a difference. Seeds planted. 

I will also remember this day for another reason ---- THE CHICKENS.                                                                       

This was the day the chickens hatched in first grade! 

Upon entering  Mrs. Feil's classroom and hearing the excited whispers of "Guess what...the chickens hatched!",  I thought  it would be a good idea for Chester and me to  check out these new little chickies FIRST THING, you know, before doing anything else.  :)      This was not a good idea at all.  Not even.

While the teacher was wrapping up a morning teaching time, Chester and I tiptoed over to check on the little freshly hatched peepers who were nestled and sleeping in their snuggly-warm hayfilled box. We were so quiet and they were so quietly snoozing away as we peeked our heads over the edge of the box. Chester's nose twitched....hmmm new smell in first grade.

And then one of the little peepers made a peep. 

Chester's ears immediately perked, his tail swooshed like a propeller going round and round,  and his eyes were glued to baby chicks.  If he could have spoken, his words would have been, "CHICKENS, Wooohooo, PLAYYYYY TIMEEE!"

The students giggled.  And giggled some more. 

Rut-roh.  If I remember back correctly ... bird/chicken & chase are possibly two words that go together in Chester's mind. 

I gave Chester a tug. "Let's go," I said cheerfully :).  I of course expected him to be his dazzling obedient self and follow me.

Ah. Nope.

Chester did not have on his listening ears. Except for peeps.  

I pulled out a treat.  
Not interested. 
One student said, "I think Chester likes baby chicks more than Girl Scout Peanut Butter Cookies!" 
Well, true that! Great thinking back by the way :)  .

The students laughed some more while Chester demonstrated what NOT LISTENING looks like!

I said..."Chester, watch me !!!  [seriously that was a joke]  Chester, it's time, heal, follow me!" ( I do not recommend this next action at all)  And I drug him away from the chickens, luring him with treats.

We at last made it to the other side of the room. While students giggled and teacher was LOL.

Chester settled a bit. Mostly. Sort of. 

I began to talk with the students about the current silly moment that we were already LOOKING BACK ON (giggle giggle) ... and then then  kiddos shared more 'thinking back' moments from weeks past with their best-dog-buddy Chester.   

Of course every time the chickies quietly peeped, Chester loudly WOOFED.    This happened a lot.

He was so bonkers. And so silly.  And doggone funny.

Mrs. Feil  was so gracious......telling me how laughter was the very best medicine for her soul on this particular day.

And Chester did create a new unforgettable memory for the 1st graders to look back on!

And I learned a lesson.....Note to self:  When there are little chickies in the room, do not take a bird dog to see and sniff FIRST.  Wait til  end.