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The Magic of Words

According to the internet (so it must be true), there are 273,000 English words in the Oxford English Dictionary; there are 470,000 English words in Webster’s Dictionary. The Oxford dictionary is from the United Kingdom and Webster’s Dictionary is from the United States. The United States is larger than the United Kingdom, so it makes sense that the Webster’s Dictionary would have more words. (Somehow that makes sense, right?).  Each year, about a 1000 words are added to the Webster’s Dictionary: in my life over 50,000 new English words have been born. There are other dictionaries as well. One of my favorite words recently added to Dictionary.com is “sharent” which means “to frequently use social media to share photos or other details and information about one’s child”. In English, all it takes to become an official new word is making it into print many times. A friend recently used the word “psychologied”, which means to have psychology used on you. It is not actually a word, but it should be a word. I’m hoping that by putting it in print here it will be added to a dictionary next year. If Shakespeare invented over 1,700 words, it is fair that my friend can invent 1. …

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To Travel Sideways

It’s been nearly 20 years since I was bitten by the travel bug. That first destination, rather typically, was Paris, France. Everything down to the cobble stoned malls of Montmartre, right up to the interlaced architecture of the Eiffel Tower, blew my mind. However, the most useful element acquired, I’d come to appreciate many years later; the fact that you’ll never be one-hundred percent prepared for any new destination. And I’m not just referring to material matters like an awful accommodation or forgetting your raincoat and a favorite lipstick shade. I’m talking about being mentally prepared for whatever the journey may throw at you….

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The Power of Perspective

Perspective. This word has been on my mind recently. I have a new perspective on many things as a new mom. My little son, Orion, has a frequently changing visual perspective now that he has learned to roll over on his own. I look at things at AAS a bit differently sometimes from my perspective as a counselor than my colleagues who are classroom teachers or administrators. This week is parent-teacher conferences. The purpose is to share school and home perspectives to find the best way together to support our children’s growth. Perspective is an important wellness concept for many reasons, including helping us cope with uncomfortable feelings and supporting effective problem solving….

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What kind of parent are you?

What if I told you that there was one thing you could do for your children that would ensure they grow up to be more empathetic and kind; would help them resist peer pressure; would lead them to become responsible and able to self-regulate; would improve their decision making; would develop their respect for adults, other people and rules; would greatly reduce their risk of depression, anxiety, teen pregnancy and drug use; and would build secure attachments and strong relationships with you, their parents?…

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‘Just Keep Swimming’

I am a sucker for animated films. Ratatouille, Encanto (“We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no…”), Moana, Frozen (yep, Frozen), and almost all of the rest: and of course Finding Nemo. I say “almost all of the rest”, because I never liked the Mickey Mouse films or cartoons. I guess that’s because I have an aversion to rodents. I’ve never liked rodents, and rats freak me out (it took me a while to appreciate Ratatouille). Even squirrels give me the creeps. I think of squirrels as fuzzy tailed tree rats. My daughter, though, has a zillion photos of a squirrel named Alberto who lives in a tree at our house. Beavers are cool, because they are unique and industrious. Capybara are also ok: they are noble somehow. Lemmings are fascinatingly weird, but I wouldn’t want to run into a slice of them. …

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Run! It’s Fun!

Scientists say long distance running is a mental exercise. You compete mainly with yourself and at the finish you feel great joy and satisfaction from your achievement, you celebrate the power of your spirit which proved to be stronger than you thought. Of course you are happy with the medal and in the end you want to share your joy and hug other finishers no matter that you met them only now. In 2010 my husband and I met with 3 other running enthusiasts over a coffee to brainstorm on how we can promote running as a healthy lifestyle, a way to meet friends and have fun, and support social causes by organizing sports events.  Who would have imagined that 10 years later the Begach club would organize 15+ sports events annually with 6000+ participants, 20000+BGN in donations, and each event with 160+ volunteers….

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The Science of Habits

Hang on, we’re gonna get sciencеy here and talk about the brain and stuff.  The new year has come and gone and you’re 6 weeks into your resolution to be a new and improved you. My informal research, composed exclusively of my annual failed resolutions, indicates that most of us have found it too difficult to stick with the routine and have likely given up and moved on. Why is it so hard to start a new habit, stop a bad one, and ultimately make it last? Humans are creatures of habit. We perform many of our mundane daily routines – getting dressed, making coffee, driving to work – on autopilot. These routines (habitual behavior) are done so without thinking. They’re reflexive and goal oriented….

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Nintendo Parenting

I love playing video games with my family. I’ll freely admit I grew up a gamer, playing Nintendo games with my father and sister gathered around our Zenith, 15-inch tube TV in 1990. (In fact, my dad, who is 72, still regularly plays video games on his PS4.) But times have changed, and with the introduction of the internet and the proliferation of screens, we are in a very different world than 30 years ago. I worry about my son’s exposure to online gaming and how it will affect his development, and I know I’m not alone in this regard. And yet I still want him to enjoy gaming as I have. What then should we be concerned about, and how do we address it? To start with, not all games are created equal, and it’s critical to understand this. Playing AngryBirds on your iPhone is not the same as playing Ages of Empires on a PC, and playing Bedrock Minecraft is not the same as playing Fortnite Battle Royale….

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Should Snowball Parties Be Allowed at School? 

On Wednesday, February 2, 2022, I had an important meeting with two middle school students. They approached me in the Atrium during lunch. One of them had pasta stains on her sweatshirt; the other had not finished her sandwich. They asked me if they were allowed to have a snowball fight. My answer was no; for two days, I have thought of little else.  As a former elementary school teacher and principal, I am hardwired to say “no” to snowball fights. Now I am questioning myself. After almost 30 years working in schools, have I been mistaken this entire time? I need your ear and your advice. After disappointing the two middle school students, I went outside and did some impromptu supervision. Many times I had to remind students that snowball fights were not permitted. Almost every student at some time was throwing snow. They laughed and screamed (the snow down the back of the shirt kind of scream) and had a lot of fun. It got me wondering whether snowball fights should be allowed, so I did some research Wednesday evening. I was planning to support the “no snowball fight rule” with some statistics….

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Gulliver’s rude awakening

I spent the first two weeks of January reading Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, an atemporal, timeless masterpiece. Jonathan Swift was a nonconformist who disdained the current political and social affairs of his time. His criticism towards all European crowns in regards to colonisation and the subjugation of civilisations are spot on, yet using satire and witty remarks. However, the book was more than a political satire from the 18th century, a period marked by slave trading and human trafficking expanded on a global scale. It was my story, the story of most expats I know. Every Gulliver’s new encounter with unknown civilizations and customs was followed by sentiments of denial, despair, loneliness and many other coping strategies. Furthermore, an uncontrollable necessity of self-assessment that would finally lead to self-criticism as Gulliver had a shift of perception and perspective by the time he got to know his hosts. He would, finally, put on his cultural glasses. And his life was irrevocably changed forever….

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