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Monday, March 31, 2014

Bow Police and the Hats We Wear

Written by Paula E. Bird, copyright 2014

In a recent group class, my students came up with the idea of making hats. One of my students was having a particularly difficult time maintaining her bow hold posture, and I tried to think of a fast way to make her more aware of the issue. In cases like this, I often ask the student who needs the reminder to act as the patrol officer for that issue. If we are focusing on bow holds, then we designate someone to be the "bow patrol" or "bow police." I have found that the student we designate to patrol us will then become hyper aware of the posture issue. Hopefully this awareness will translate to remembering to correct the student's own bow hold.

I have done this sort of thing several times before, but during our recent class, something sparked a new idea for my students. "Let's make a hat!" And so we grabbed some construction paper and quickly made hats. Most of us remember how Curious George taught us how to make hats. Some of the students opted to draw pictures of bows or police badges and write "bow police" on their hats. One student made an origami samurai hat. Then my students took turns wearing the hats they created while they took turns sharing the bow police role.

Last week I wrote about spheres and in particular about connection and community as suggested focus areas of our lives. My recent group class activity reminded me that we wear many hats in our lives; our hats represent many roles. Because we wear so many hats, I find it a good idea to take inventory now and then of the hats that I wear in order to increase my awareness of the roles I have taken on in my life. Are some of these hats still necessary or a product of a former time and no longer needed? Are some of these hats taking up too much shelf space and causing my schedule to be too crowded? Are some of these hats a bit neglected and gathering dust in the corner of a back shelf? Are there some hats that I need to add to my collection? Taking stock of what I have in my collection now may help me to clear out the storeroom of unwanted or unneeded hats and to give more time and attention to the hats in my collection that I cherish because of their importance in my life.

In exercises like these, I find it particularly helpful to write down my discoveries. In the past I have used a journal for this purpose, and my journals were as simple as 99 cent copy books. Even if I never revisit the journal, I find great comfort in knowing that the information is stored somewhere in retrievable form. Nowadays I type my journal entries rather than write in a journal, and that is because I save the wear and tear on my hands. Typing is simpler for me. I use 750words.com for this purpose because I can use the program wherever I am and with whatever computer I have available. I am able to save and print out my entries if I so desire, and the website is fun with its measure of moods, distractions, and other information. Any type of written record would do though. I have typed journal entries in word processing programs, and I have used journal applications.

Journals are great places for making lists, and making a list of hats is a great way to kick off some personal reflection that may spur us on to some important personal growth issues. This week, grab whatever journal-like tool that you may have available and make a list of the hats that you wear. Then in the coming week, spend a little time each day considering the list that you made. Are your hats still in fashion? What insights have you gained about the roles in life that you play? What adjustments might you need to make?

Try making your own hat:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Morning Check In: Connections and Community

Written by Paula E. Bird, copyright 2014

When I think about goal setting, I typically think in more traditional terms: linear progression and areas of responsibility. For example, linear progression refers to steps 1-10, and areas of responsibility refers to physical, mental, spiritual, or business, personal, and family. Lately though I have been involved in some planning of projects that I expect to spend a long period of time developing. I find that my traditional thinking is not serving me well in this process, and I have been considering new perspectives.

I came across an interesting article written about one couple's work to become completely self-sustaining and self-sufficient on their property. Aside from the details that result from that sort of project, what caught my attention was the authors' choice of words to describe how they measured progress on their goals. The authors preferred to employ the term "sphere" to describe any of several areas of projects or concerns that the authors deemed important enough to develop. In this particular example of homesteading, the authors outlined six spheres that would demand their attention over a span of many years in order to ultimately reach the authors' goal of complete self-sustainability on their homestead, which meant that the authors would no longer need to supply their needs with outside sources.

The term "sphere" caught my attention, because of the nature of the word's description. Somehow this term changed my perspective in a different way than I experience when I think in traditional, straight-line thinking. Because spheres are round and three-dimensional, my thinking has to alter in order to fit this new picture that I have in my head. Yes, sphere also refers to influence or activity, but it is the roundness of the object that I picture in my head that has changed due to this new word use.

Now that my perspective and my way of thinking has altered, I have been considering  my own life in terms of spheres. What are the spherical areas that my life might contain? As I develop this picture, various ideas come to mind, and I want to mention two that came to mind yesterday: Connections and Community.

I have long known that I have a tendency to isolate myself. I am perfectly happy spending large amounts of time alone (or at least in the company of a nonhuman), and I have to monitor this tendency and guard against allowing too much time to pass before human interaction. Yesterday I realized that this tendency may be harmful if I give in to it at all. Instead, I feel a need to not only combat the inertia of aloneness but to develop a plan to eliminate it, if at all possible.

Yesterday I was able to join in a group meeting of our local Suzuki organization, the first meeting that I have been able to attend since the group formed over a year ago. I became better acquainted with several wonderful teachers with whom I have not developed a relationship before, and I renewed my friendship with several teachers whom I have not seen or talked to in quite some time except through electronic means. Most importantly, I met with several teachers for the first time. Rather than be quick to move back into my comfort zone of isolation though, I embraced the experience and found many things to enjoy about my new activity and the new connections that I made.

I found it entertaining to listen to others talk and express their ideas. At times, something someone said would spark an idea in my own mind. Other times I would think about how I could help the group with my own knowledge. Most of the time though, I was content to listen to what others were interested in and how they expressed their concerns and ideas. I learned much about the teachers personally, and I came to understand the group dynamic better than I would have through electronic communication alone.

I realized during the meeting that although my isolationist tendencies are pleasant and serve to recharge my energy and enthusiasm, for the most part my aloneness may not be adding anything more useful to my life. I need more connection and communication.  I need to spend time with others outside of my work sphere, even if the time spent is in a work-related meeting. This is valuable time for me to spend broadening my thinking. I also need to develop a stronger community within my studio. We need more of a studio "identity" if you will, which will come about through our connections within our own local community and the larger Suzuki community. Although my studio is located in a rural area, we need to join forces together with other students and teachers and studios outside of our area so that we can share and broaden our larger Suzuki community vision.

The homesteading article talked about community as a sphere, and I believe this is an important area of concern for teachers. We need to stay connected with each other, for encouragement, motivation, and creativity. We need to develop relationships beyond ourselves and our studio in order to bind ourselves more closely to the larger purpose behind what we do: ability development and talent education. This sphere of community is not limited to direct connections between teachers, but opens up the connections to include any relationships: teacher and parent, teacher and student, parent and student, parent and parent, teacher and teacher. Further, our educational purpose can spread to include others outside our direct sphere of interest, such as extended family, school administrators, and community and business leaders. These types of connections will strengthen the likelihood that our global message that "Any child can" will mean more than merely one teacher's attempts to teach a few students. The type and number of connections are limited by our ability to imagine possibilities.

Take a few moments this week to consider your sphere of community and connection. What relationships can you broaden? How can you strengthen your bonds of connection within your studio and your community?

Let us change our world -- one child, one student at a time.


I am pleased to announce that Sue Hunt (musicinpractice.com) has a new app in the iTune store! If you recall, I interviewed Sue about her review program ideas two years ago (article). The app is free (a paid version with premium features is in the development stage). Please check out Sue's contribution to our Suzuki community: iTunes link).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Morning Check In: Emergency Plan

Written by Paula E. Bird, copyright 2014

Occasionally my Monday mornings are an adventure to decide what to write about for a Monday morning post. Most often I have an easy journey. I sit down to write with a spark of an idea, and the words flow from beginning to end. Other times, I sit down and wonder if the words will ever come. Today is such a day. I sit here thinking and thinking, and so little seems to spring to life. Thank heavens I already have a plan to take me forward in moments like these.

Today is the first day after the completion of our spring break. I had busy bookend weekends with a span of five free days in between. I flew to Pennsylvania to visit my father and to see how things were going up there. My father will turn 82 next month, and I worry about the things that children worry about for their parents at that age.

Although I had a lovely visit, I used up my free time during this visit. I came home to find the same pile of things to attend to sitting on my kitchen counter. The same problems and issues that I left behind me when I boarded the airplane were there to greet me when I returned.

But what about your plan? you ask. Yes, that is right. Stay on track, I tell myself, although I also feel my mind tugging itself to skitter around. What do I do when I am faced with many things that need to be done and very little time to do it? I clean and organize, and in moments like these, I pull out my emergency plan.

This sounds so simple and perhaps trite, but this really helps. I am not sure where I learned this trick in the past, and I rarely use it (therefore, keeping it as a special trick), but this is the fastest way that I have discovered to clear my mind and set my sights on a fresh path in moments like these. There are some folks who might suggest that doing this is a form of procrastination, and perhaps there is some truth to that. However, I am talking about my emergency plan, and this is different than the usual cleaning and organizing that I would typically do on a daily basis. Be prepared to be surprised, because this emergency plan is simple and frightening in its effectiveness and how quickly the plan achieves complete clarity.

I take an empty box and I clear everything off my desk (or my kitchen counter, or my dining room table). I completely empty the surface of anything and everything. There! Now, I can sit down and begin my work, one thing at a time, one step at a time. I can deal with the box if I like, but later. Sometimes in the past, I find that things stay in that box, and after a certain length of time has passed, I find it much easier to deal with things in the box. Obviously if I have not needed anything in that box, then I should seriously attack the box, throw things out, or file/store the contents in appropriate places. Usually I find that I can quickly sort through the box later with a clear head and a box of file folders. I keep the box handy, mostly for its psychological value. If I know the box is nearby then it is not so frightening to put everything in it. For my desk area, I stow the box underneath the desk. Someplace nearby.

So there you have it -- my plan to bring a sense of focus to this moment in time when I feel overwhelmed. I am not worried that I will forget anything important because I already have my other systems in place for dealing with my "stuff." I have my calendar and my day journal calendar (my Smithsonian calendar that stays in my home for my husband to see and serves as a tickler file for important bills and reminders). I am careful to keep my calendar up to date. I have my to do template notebook, which I use pretty much daily (sometimes it takes me two or more days to complete one list). I continue to use my day's planning form (half hour increments). I also use Omnifocus for iPhone 2 to keep track of my life and my ideas. Siri helps me to stay on task with reminders, which also get loaded into my Omnifocus program. (For those folks who follow David Allen's GTD system, I highly recommend Omnifocus 2 for iPhone as a way to follow that system easily).

Despite all of these wonderful daily tools, I do find on occasion that it helps to have my emergency plan -- the empty box -- available for use.

The clear work surface reflects the clear mind. Now I have some room upstairs for ideas and creativity to spark and ignite.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Bows to Use with Box Violins

Written by Paula E. Bird, copyright 2014

My purpose in using a box violin is to accustom the student to how to hold a real violin. I have given my reasons for using box violins in an earlier post [article link here]. I stay on a box violin as long as the student needs it. I do not advocate staying on a box violin for too long, merely long enough to establish some good posture habits and to make sure that the student has learned how to take proper care of it.

The best bow for a box violin in my opinion is an actual bow. I do not use healthy regular bows, however. I visit my local fine stringed instruments shop and ask if they have any broken bows. I found out that the shop keeps a collection of bows that have broken for one reason or another in order to return them to the manufacturer. Many of these bows are still perfectly fine for the purpose of a box violin. The bow does not need hair on it, nor does it matter if the frog is cracked a little in some way. As long as there is a frog that the student may put the thumb under and the bow stick is still good, then the bow is still usable. I set up this kind of bow with my usual set up, as I covered in my earlier post about starting beginners. [article here]

Dowel rods work very nicely though. Depending on the age of the child, I select a dowel rod of the correct length and circumference to suit the child. A younger child may need a thicker dowel rod. It is possible to decorate the rod in some way. To mark an area of the "bow" that reflects the student's "square" arm, I sometimes use stickers and then wrap clear packing tape around this area to keep the stickers securely fastened and visible. [insert picture of this]

I use various bow grips for box violin bows. I have used the Bowmaster on one end and have supplemented that with corn pads for placement of the thumb and pinkie. I have also used the Bow Buddy, although I have issues with both of these items when it comes to long term use. Sometimes I have just used the fish from the Bow Buddy. There are many possible items that can be used for this purpose.

For the very young child, I may allow the child to do the Palmer grasp on the bow until the child has developed some ability to use fine motor skills to form the bow hold. The Palmer grasp is the first grasp that babies and young children use when latching onto something. If you have ever had a baby grasp your finger, then you know that the Palmer grasp is the perfect bow hold. As the child progresses, I find it simple to begin adjusting the pinkie to its proper placement.

Here are three pictures of bows that the students find to be fun. The first is a bow that one of our university students constructed using a dowel rod, rubber eraser, and electrical tape.

Eraser and Duct Tape

Here is a "bow" made with barbecue skewers and plastic beads. This bow is light and delicate and makes a satisfying sound when drawn across the box violin "strings."

Barbecue Skewer
A variation of the bead bow is one made with much larger "beads." Here is the younger brother of one of my students. When I explained about the bead bow, this mom made up a different version of it with much larger and colorful beads.

Dowel Rod and Big Beads
And here is the dowel rod with the Bowmaster on one end. You can see the corn pads placed to make it easy for my student to find the thumb and pinkie placement.

Bowmaster and Corn Pads

There are many possibilities when it comes to an appropriate item to use for a box violin bow. My favorite item is an actual bow. No matter what bow item that I use, I keep in mind that this item is to be used on a temporary basis. The purpose of tools is to make it easy to get good posture habits started. Once the correct posture is in place, I find no reason to maintain the tool.

Please comment below and let me know what tools you use to start beginner violin students.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Morning Check In: What are Your Strengths?

written by Paula E. Bird, copyright 2014

Recently I listened to a few sermon messages about talents: what talents (or gifts) we are given, how we use them, and whether we are living up to the promise of our talents.  I began to think about this subject area as it relates to becoming a better teacher or parent, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Since I am a Suzuki teacher, I do not per se believe in talent as something that is inborn. Talent is not inborn and all children have talent are two of the main tenets of the Suzuki philosophy. I believe that we develop our talent with environment, repetition, and discipline, along with many other important actions. For this reason, whenever I hear or read the word “talent,” I substitute the word “strength.” I believe that the word “strength” adequately fits within the Suzuki model; Dr. Suzuki referred to this as a spectrum of abilities to adapt to various environments. I prefer to use the word “strength” to refer to this larger area of meaning.

As I thought about the importance of capitalizing on our strengths as teachers and parents, I also thought about how we could use our Suzuki belief to develop our strengths further. These sorts of thoughts led me to a broad consideration of what our strengths are and what different types of strengths there might be. At this point, I have identified four possible strength areas that we generally have: apparent, perceived, aspirational, and attitudinal.

Apparent Strengths

Apparent strengths are the strengths that we can readily identify in ourselves. These strengths are obvious to us as well as to others. For example, I am a person with extremely high energy levels. I identify high energy as one of my strengths. I am able to endure long time periods for performing and teaching. I am also decisive, which I think of as one of my strengths to make quick decisions based on available information. I am also curious, and this strength leads me to perform and enjoy research on many subjects that are related to teaching. All of these are my apparent strengths. I am sure that we all have several strengths we can identify in ourselves.

Perceived Strengths

Perceived strengths are those strengths that others perceive in us. Unfortunately, perceived strengths may not be something that we can readily identify in ourselves. Perceived strengths are different than the “mask” that we might think we present to others. Sometimes the only way we can uncover our perceived strengths is to ask others whom we trust to identify them for us. For example, although I would never have identified this trait in myself, my studio parents frequently tell me that I am very patient. I have been told this enough times that I now believe that I am a patient person when it comes to teaching. Other traits that others have described to me include self confident, knowledgeable, and gracious or kind. When I hear these types of descriptions applied to me, I wonder about it. I find it interesting that people describe me in these ways, because I would not have chosen these descriptors for myself. What others perceive as my strengths opens up my eyes to a different view of myself, including how I handle the information. Am I disbelieving, self-deprecating, humble, amazed, thoughtful, or indifferent? Thinking about this strength area will open up new conversations within myself.

Aspirational Strengths

Aspirational strengths are those strengths that would be needed by the person you want to become. If you want to be a good teacher, then you would decide what a good teacher is, what qualities that person would have, and what qualities you need to develop in order to become that good teacher. The same would go for any other goals that you might set. What type of person would you need to become in order to achieve these goals? These are all good questions to ask about yourself in order to keep growing as a person and a teacher. You are what you think about, so when you continually thing about the types of strengths that you need to have in order to become what you want to become, you will create these strengths in yourself and adopt these strengths as your own. This cycle will perpetuate itself, feeding and growing until you reach your goal.

Attitudinal Strengths

Attitudinal strengths are those strengths that derive from the way that your attitude looks at things. In other words, attitudinal strengths are what you make up your mind to be and think. For example, my husband might describe me as uptight and a perfectionist, but my positive attitude approach would be to think of myself as a high energy and precise, detail-oriented person. “Bold” is a more positive descriptor than “reckless,” and I prefer "cautious" to "fearful."

I think it is important that we be aware of what our strengths are in all of the four areas I have discussed. We should identify our apparent strengths in order that we may draw upon them to do our best work. We should discover our perceived strengths because we may then live up to what others believe about us. We should consider what our aspirational strengths should be in order to keep moving forward in the direction of our dreams and goals. Finally, we should be mindful of our attitudinal strengths in order that we discipline ourselves to stay in the positive zone of approaching life within our personal growth plan.

This week, consider your strengths and think about any strength areas that you can improve. Being mindful about ourselves will make us better observers of others and better teachers and parents in the end.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

6 Ways to Address Whining

Written by Paula E. Bird, copyright 2014

Nothing annoys me more than when students whine. I do not enjoy hearing a child (or an adult) whine. The sound grates on my ears and psyche. Whining has no influence over me except to annoy me no end. I believe that whining is one of the most unattractive behaviors and unproductive utterances that exists in the world.

There, now that I have gotten that off my chest, let me discuss whining in more detail, because I believe that parents and teachers suffer this same affliction in equal measure as I do. If I look at the definition of the word, I am likely to find things like "high-pitched sound," "complaining," "plaintive cry," "fretful," "cranky," and so forth. How nice. Those definitions make me want to snap to attention and deal with the issue. You too?

The above descriptions make me want to pull out my ear plugs. I cringe and back away, even when I hear adults do this type of behavior. I am ever vigilant with my own language choices as well, because I understand how unattractive a person appears when wallowing in the whining mindset.

Having now vented (or whined a bit, if you will) about this subject, let me address whining with more useful information. Why do children whine? I have read that whining is a bid for attention and that whining may indicate that children may feel the connection with their caregiver has been broken in some way. A whining child may feel overwhelmed, powerless, or lacking control over the current situation. Whatever the reason for the child to whine, the child is communicating important information. The issue then becomes what is the appropriate way for parents and teachers to respond to the communication.

When my university students whine, as I wrote about in my previous article about the importance of being teachable (click here to read the article), they are generally letting me know that they need my personal attention and help in learning how to do something. I naturally gravitate to their vicinity the minute I hear the whine and give the student some personal attention and physical correction. I also make a joke of the whining, in case the student was unaware of the behavior: "Did you just whine? Wow! How attractive is that?" We usually laugh about it, and now the student is more aware of the behavior in the future (I hope). I am also more ready to make that same observation the next time the student whines. Toddlers and young children may have the need to whine as a form of communication, but adults have much higher level skills of communication, or they should. I insist that grownups (like my university students) not whine when they talk with me.

So how do I cure whining? Here are six ways that I use to address whining and solve the underlying issues that whining represents:

Do not give in. The most important tool is the refusal to give in. I believe that one of the main reasons that whining is such a prevalent issue for parents and teachers is that the behavior is rewarded by giving the whiner what they are whining about. Nope, not me. My reaction is the opposite. I will not give in to whining except as I describe above with my university students, and I try and turn that into a learning point when I do respond. The type of whining that I refer to here is the type that is seeking to get something: Can't I have ice cream now? Can I buy this candy? This is that annoying, unproductive whining, when a child is demanding immediate gratification about something that is inappropriate at the moment. Children use whining in these situations because whining works. It wears down the unprepared parent, who may give in to get rid of the unpleasant whining noise.

Become deaf. One of my favorite tools that a parent shared with me was to be unable to hear what the whiny child's voice said. This parent would completely not respond to the child's whiny cries. When the child would tug on her mama, the mom would then explain that it was really, really hard for the mom to hear the child's voice when it adopted that tone. Other parents may head this behavior off in the beginning by explaining that the parent cannot hear the tone and then role modeling the correct way to communicate.

Imitate what you hear. Some parents report success when they parrot back the whiny tone and exaggerated speech patterns. When the child hears how the communication sounds, the child may recognize the ineffectiveness and unpleasantness of the speech. For sure the moment will be funny, and a reconnection may be established between the whiner and the whinee.

Address the underlying issue. If the whine is due to a disconnection between the parent and child or teacher and student, then address the disconnection. If the whine is about discomfort or pain, address that issue. Once I get past the whining tone -- usually by repeating the child's distress call with more appropriate communication (The chin rest feels uncomfortable with that size shoulder rest? Your thumb hurts when it sits against the frog?), I address the discomfort. I take every complaint about discomfort and pain very seriously and treat the child's complaints as true. I find it easy to dismiss a child's complaints as just another bit of noise in the universe, except that with my many years' teaching experience, I have come to realize that many children genuinely experience discomfort if the instrument setup does not exactly fit the child's needs. So I spend a great deal of time addressing the fit of shoulder rests, chin rests, and other areas of connection with the instrument. I have been known to use a lot of mole foam to cushion areas that cause perceived pain or discomfort.

Learn to tell the difference between the real and the fake. Some children or students whine because they do not want to do the activity, not because there is a real issue of pain or discomfort. I call this sort of behavior "fake" pain, and I handle this in a different way. When a student complains that the thumb hurts when it sits inside the frog (rather than on the outside of the frog, which is the generally accepted method that Suzuki violin teachers employ with beginning students), I tell a story. Never underestimate the power of story for getting and holding a student's attention and for sending a powerful message.
When I took karate classes, one of the exam requirements to get to the next belt level was to break a board. I remember how my karate teacher asked me to prepare to break my first board with my hand. (Here I gesture with the heel of my hand to show the student which part of my hand was expected to do the board breaking). My teacher took me to a brick in one corner of the room. Do you know what she wanted me to do with the brick? (Here I let the student interact with guesses, always wrong of course, but this engages the student in my story).
My teacher asked me to rub the heel of my hand across the top of the brick several times a day. (I gesture my hand rubbing the brick in time to "Mississippi Hot Dog" rhythm, back and forth several times). Can you guess what that did to my hand? (More silly guesses). Rubbing my hand on the brick made the skin on my hand tougher. I got a callous on my hand. My skin got stronger, so that I could easily break the board and not feel a thing. 
(Here is my favorite part.) 
So I think we need to take your whiny thumb to that brick over there and teach him how to be stronger and tougher. Let's go.
I then walk over to the brick and take the spot on my thumb that will touch the frog and rub it back and forth on the brick in time to Mississippi Hot Dog rhythm. The child willingly joins in the activity to imitate me. We will do this about ten times. The child learns the lesson. Even funnier is when the child complains about something else the next time, like the chin on the chin rest. I start to go through the same spiel about the brick, and usually the student is one step ahead of me and decides that the chin does not need the brick therapy after all.

Recognize different sensitivity levels. Some students have lesser tolerances for discomfort than other students. For example, my stepson Jon had very little tolerance for discomfort. Poking him with my finger could elicit an "Ow!" in an instant. I carefully consider whether my student's level of comfort sensitivity is an issue and address this with one of the methods above.

Whining may be a simple case of noise-making to indicate an imminent tantrum, or it may indicate something else, such as a disconnection in the relationship or real discomfort. Keep an open mind about the underlying reasons for the whining and patiently address the possible issues. Although whining may be unpleasant to listen to, the sound may reveal some information that is useful for effective teaching.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Morning Check In: 3 Ways to Keep Standing

Written by Paula E. Bird, copyright 2014

Good Morning, everyone. Another Monday in the year's march toward December. Today is the 9th Monday in 2014, if that helps anyone to feel that fire lit beneath them.

Today is a stiff day for me for many reasons. Usually my life rolls along with interesting things happening nearly every day. I enjoy my students and my life. On occasion, however, there are times when unpleasant things or people appear in my path, and I am forced to reckon with the problems that they represent. I find these times and situations to be extremely stressful. I am sure that others have similar difficult moments. How do we handle these situations and moments and the pressures that come along? How do we get through these sticky wickets and move on? Here are three things that I find helpful and remind myself about during these difficult times.

Keep focused on the big picture. Remind yourself what your purpose is. Stay focused on the big picture and not the muddy potholes by the side of the road. Do not let someone else steer you down a road that you do not wish to travel. Resist the temptation to wallow and complain. Get up, get motivated, look where you want to go, and get moving again. I have a fearful little boy who wrestles with perfectionist issues on a frequent basis. I played the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers number about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and starting all over again. He loves it and sings it regularly back to me whenever he makes a mistake. We adults need to do the same thing. If you want to see Fred and Ginger, click here).

Watch your thoughts. When we wallow about hurts and disappointments, we dwell on negative ideas. This negativity takes a toll on us emotionally, mentally, and physically. Stop those dangerous negative thoughts in their tracks and immediately refocus your thinking on something positive. Look for something that you can do that will make a positive difference.

What are your strengths? Foster those. Find a person that you can uplift and help in some way. Take your head out of your own head and put it in a different place that will lead you to the sunshine, not the darkness. This step is probably the hardest step for most people. Despite efforts to stay in the positive, the negative thoughts creep back in relentlessly. Be disciplined about cutting off and veering off those thoughts. Write them down if you must think about them at some point (I use the 750words.com site for this purpose), but be sure to get these thoughts out of your head. Replace them with more positive ideas.

Be sure to surround yourself with good things and good people. Find your peeps and stay with them, not for purposes of complaining or whining, but to absorb their happy energy. You need injections of positiveness and enthusiasm, not dumping grounds for your negativity.

Stay healthy. Get plenty of rest, eat good food, and move yourself with an exercise program of some sort. Do not succumb to any desires to do something otherwise. Losing sleep will stress your system and leave you prone to infection and illness. Bad food, even if labeled "comfort" food, is bad for you. Food is fuel and you need good fuel in moments like this. Do not give up on your exercise program. Moving yourself with exercise will help to eliminate the effects of stress and release endorphins that may help you to feel better. No matter how busy you are, make the time to stay healthy so that you can fight this battle from your strongest vantage point.

Times of disappointment are tough to handle and difficult to experience, however, they are a part of life and will rear their unpleasant little heads often enough that it behooves us to get a good grip on how to handle these issues when they arise. These three tips above are my top three ways to get myself through these moments and come through the other side with my goals intact, my attitude upbeat and useful to uplift others, and my health strong and supportive of my life.

Have a good week. That is my plan.