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Monday, March 20, 2017

What's Love Got to Do With It?

Recently I broadcast a podcast episode that began a short series about the importance of love in the parent-child relationship. This love topic applies to more than just a parent and child; it also applies to a teaching relationship as well. In this episode I again stressed the importance of why parents are important in a child's life and I expanded my ideas. Here are the basic points about love that I made:
  1. Children want to please their parents, so parents have a great deal of power when it comes to influence and role modeling.
  2. Parents are with their children more time than anyone else. Again, parents have a great deal of power to influence because of the hours spent with the children.
  3. Parents care how well their children do or develop more than anyone else.
  4. Parental love is the first love a child experiences and this experience affects how the chid will develop a relationship with the world and others later in life.
  5. Love expands. It never contracts or constricts.
  6. Love is a verb. It is something we do, not something we have or hold.
I also discussed the importance of building an interdependent relationship between the parent and the child rather than push the child toward independence too soon or before the child is ready.

I continued the discussion by setting out a few things that parents might do to establish and strengthen the parent-child bond of interconnectedness and interdependence. I also related Dr. Suzuki's admonition that children will treat their elderly parents as the children witness how the parents treat their neighbors and others now.

I finished up the current episode by discussing unconditional love. How does one define this ultimate expression of love? Here is St. Paul's definition of love, written to the Corinthians over two centuries ago:
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first, "Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
(The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, affiliate link
Dr. Suzuki was once asked, "Why do you teach?" His answer was:

"First for the love of the child; second, for the love of teaching the child; and third for the love of the music that is taught the child, but the child always comes first."

You may listen to the podcast episode on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher Radio, or you may click the link here: Click here. The subsequent episode that completes this mini series discussion can be found here.

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----
 © 2017 by Paula E. Bird

If you found this episode (or any episode) of the podcast helpful, and you would like to make a donation to support the Teach Suzuki Podcast and the blog, click here. My efforts to write and produce the Teach Suzuki blog and podcast do not generate income except through the generosity of those readers and listeners. I really appreciate your support. Just click here for a direct link to PayPal to support the blog and podcast.





Monday, March 13, 2017

How to Discover and Set Your Priorities

In my last article (click here to read), I discussed the issue of shifting priorities in the context of parents' struggles to find time to practice with their children. I related two stories of building a foundation on shifting sand or rock. Here are some questions to help parents uncover and focus their priorities and attention.

Four Questions to Discover and Set Your Priorities

Here are four questions to discover where your treasure is and to set your priorities:

1. Where do you spend your time?

In order to find out where your treasure is, you need only look at where you spend your time. Fill out an activity log or hourly calendar this week with every activity that you do, including work, driving time, sleeping, and watching TV. Do this for one week and you will most likely be amazed at what you discover. Of course, what you choose to do about your discovery will also be interesting. Are there pockets of time that are wasted? Do some activities drain your time? Where could you yield more satisfactory results with your time?

2. What do you want to accomplish?

Do you know what you want to accomplish? Do you have a set of goals or even one thing that you want to see happen this year, this semester, this season, this month, this week, or even today? I usually have a few goals floating around each year. I have them written down. Sometimes I go through periods when I refer to them often or on a daily basis, but I find that once I have written my goals down, I usually remember them. There have been several instances when I wrote a list of goals and forgot about them only to rediscover my list later and realize that I had accomplished everything on the list. I believe that writing down your list of goals is the key to accomplishing them. (Here is an article about my 90-day goal setting approach).

The purpose of having a list of goals or any goal is that you will be more in control of how you spend your time. You will be more aware of when others take you away from your goal path and when and what activities drink up the time you could spend on your goal plan. Think about what you want to accomplish.

I have three scheduling tools, and they each serve specific purposes:
  • iPhone: this digital tool allows me to check my schedule at all times and far into the future, and I can share it with others.
  • Planner: I keep my appointments here with occasional note reminders of important items that have a time specific aspect to them. This tool serves two purposes for me: (1) I get a “global” view of the week to come, and (2) I can quickly see where I have pockets of available time to accomplish things related to my goals.
  • Bullet journal: this is my weekly and daily schedule plan and my working tool. In this tool (Leuchtturm 1917 dotted medium), I design my week and my days to come. I identify my top goals for the week, and I use this tool to capture stray thoughts, notes, reminders, and other useful information. Because I refer to this particular tool often every day, I stay on top of all my priorities and goals for the day and the week. This tool is a great way to keep track of many different things. There is an entire community of avid bullet journal users to draw ideas and inspiration from. For more information about how I use a bullet journal, here are some previous articles and podcast episodes:

3. How will you reach your goal?

Do you have a plan? Having a list of goals is a great step, but developing a plan to reach those goals is an even stronger step. Figure out what steps need to be taken and in what order. I currently use my bullet journal to work through ideas and steps for a project, and I have also used a project notebook to jot down ideas related to my goals, but any notebook, sketchpad, or legal pad would do. I devote a page of the notebook for each project idea I might consider. Then I pull out one project sheet at a time and carry it around with me. I jot additional ideas down on my project sheet, and sometimes I turn them into lists of action items. Here is an article I wrote recently to outline my use of the 90-day square to accomplish my goals and projects over a 90-day period and to provide more balance in the major areas of my life: There Comes a Journey.

4. How Can You Get Started?

Remember the Nike slogan, “Just Do It!” This is the best advice I can ever give to any parent or student. My other favorite unspoken part of the slogan is, “stop whining,” or as I like to tell my university students, “stop why-ning” (Why do I have to play scales? Why do I have to go to this concert? Why? Why? Why?). Yup, stop the "why-ning" and just get started! The time it takes to think of creative excuses is time that you could use for something more productive, like practicing with your child!

I hope that my readers will take some time this week to consider where their hearts truly are and what treasure they seek to find. Are your priorities built on rock or sand?

Until next time,

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----


© 2017 by Paula E. Bird



If you found this episode (or any episode) of the podcast helpful, and you would like to make a donation to support the Teach Suzuki Podcast and the blog, click here. My efforts to write and produce the Teach Suzuki blog and podcast do not generate income except through the generosity of those readers and listeners. I really appreciate your support. Just click here for a direct link to PayPal to support the blog and podcast.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Rock or Sand -- Shifting Priorities

I posted an article on April 8, 2012 that dealt with the subject of shifting priorities when parents struggle to find adequate practice time with their children at home. I thought that another look at this article with some updated material would help podcast listeners apply the subject of the podcast episode 049 about building character. Character can mean so many things, and decisions about how to approach the practice issue may reveal questions of character, as this article discusses.


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The Two Houses

The bible (Matthew 7:24-27) relates a story about two men who built houses. One man built his house on a rock. When the rain came down, “the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (NIV) This is the wise man, the man who builds his home on a solid foundation. Not so the foolish man. He built his house on sand, and when the rain came down, “the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (NIV)

Even children relate to this story in its fairy tale form about the three little pigs (Paul Galdone classic book). One little pig built his house of straw, but the wolf blew it down and forced the pig to seek safety with his brother. The second pig built his house of sticks, but the wolf blew down that house as well. The third pig built his house of bricks and it withstood the wolf’s attack.

My purpose in relating these two stories is to bring up the issue of priorities. On occasion I observe parents on various forums ask about how to find time to practice with their children. As these parents ask the question, I notice that the question also defines the home and parent situation to show that the parents have absolutely no time to practice. These parents’ frame the issue in a way that seems to seek permission NOT to practice. One parent went so far as to suggest that he or she might be looking for something like an exercise program that promised “rock hard abs” in a few minutes per day. This reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently, where the student says to the teacher something like, "Can we just skip ahead to the part where I'm awesome?"

I had to sit for a while after reading that particular parent’s situation, because I would think that most of us in the world know that it is impossible to get or build something worthwhile without putting in the time and effort that are required to get there. As much as we would all like to be thinner, stronger, faster, or better, it just is not going to happen in a short amount of time. We need to pay our dues. We need to put in the time and effort.

Priorities

Life is all about priorities. There are many things that compete for our attention -- all day and well into the night. Parents need to sift through all of the “stuff” and sort things according to well-defined priorities. Let us teach our children this important life skill of how to set priorities, because if we fail to teach this life lesson, our children may drift through life and work to accomplish other’s goals.

How we choose to set priorities may reveal our character as well. Podcast episode 049 (click here to listen) discusses character, how to build it, and why it is important to line up our character with our integrity. After listening to the podcast episode, see if you resonate with some of the questions I pose here about the priorities we choose to follow.

Which house are you building?
  • Are you situated on a rock? Do you know where you are going? Do you know what to do when things fall apart all around you? Do you have goals? Do you make your goals top priority?
  • Are you situated on sand? Do you go wherever the moment takes you? Do the demands of others buffet you about or are you clear about your needs and your family's priorities? What is important to you to accomplish? Do you have a plan?

What is Your Treasure?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Luke 12:34 (NIV)

If you want to understand what your current priorities are, take a look at where you spend most of your time. Your time is your most valuable asset and gift to yourself and others. Your time is not something you can save or store up. When time is spent, it cannot be recaptured. If you waste a minute, it will be gone forever.

So look closely at where you spend your time and with what people. Most adults would say that they spend the biggest part of their waking day with people at work. I understand the need to make a living, and I am guilty about spending too much time with my work. I often raise the issue of how much time I spend to make a living versus the time I spend with the things or people that matter most to me. I assume for parents that children and family are the most important things in life. If that is true, do the parents' lives actually demonstrate this situation to others? Do parents spend time with their families? What are the parents' priorities?

Let us return to the distressed parent who had to work so long in a day that the parent had no time to devote to the child’s practice. It may be that this particular parent has decided that her heart truly belonged to work. That decision is none of my business unless the parent asks for my opinion. Parents can decide how to run their lives and raise their families and I do not have to be involved in any way. I do, however, want to be sure that these parents are being truthful with themselves. If this is truly the parent’s decision and priority – to be so busy with work and other activities that there is no time left in a day for the child’s practice, even ten minutes – then I want the parent to be able to say that aloud to themselves and be able to admit that to others. Be honest. If this is your priority, then say so. Please do not try to give the rest of us the illusion that you wish things were different if you really do not.

Should a parent’s treasure be somewhere else? I hope that busy parents take some time this week to look at this issue. Find out where your hearts truly are. Are parents' priorities and attention directed toward their children or elsewhere?

In my next article I will discuss four questions that will help parents discover their true priorities and make decisions to set new priorities.

Until next time,


Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----


© 2017 by Paula E. Bird

If you found this episode (or any episode) of the podcast helpful, and you would like to make a donation to support the Teach Suzuki Podcast and the blog, click here. My efforts to write and produce the Teach Suzuki blog and podcast do not generate income except through the generosity of readers and listeners. I really appreciate your support. Just click here for a direct link to PayPal to support the blog and podcast.