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Celebration of Personal Heroes: 9/11 is a time to celebrate strengths


Out of the vault – Proud to be a part of this book!

The Gratitude Book Project: A Celebration of Personal Heroes

gratitudelogopurple
Co-Author Julia Simens

It”s a time of remembrance and celebrating strength.

As across the United States and the world, we commemorate the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001; it’s time to celebrate the strong. I’m proud to announce that I was a co-author of a unique project celebrating personal heroes from The Gratitude Book Project.

Even though the characteristics of a hero may be different from one person to another, the underlying theme of heroism is uniform throughout in the sense that they are all admired. Heroes define our aspirations and expand the perceived limitations we have of ourselves. They remind us of whom we want to be and how we’re going to get there.

Maybe you consider your father a hero or maybe you feel the hero within yourself. Maybe your hero is a firefighter or a teacher. Regardless of who your hero is, they are all defined by the same characteristics and celebrated in The Gratitude Book Project: A Celebration of Personal Heroes.

Narratives from the book include inspiring stories such as:

“Imagine My Surprise” by Anne Bennett, expressing gratitude for the New Yorkers on the 9-11 attacks that she witnessed.

“Job Well Done” by Sabrina Jones, describing the heroism of a single parent and the emotional and physical strength they must possess.

“You’re a Hero, Too” by Cat Traywick, inspiring us all that we can make a difference because of the hero within ourselves.

I’m one of the co-authors.

My contribution to the book centers around being overseas and living in the sandwich generation. If you are not aware of this terminology, it means being in a mid-life tug of war. The ‘Sandwich Generation’ is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their children.  My mom was getting older, and my daughter was off in college, but this throws my expat lifestyle into this mix, and things become very complicated.  Living thousands of miles away adds a new concern being in this sandwich.

My mother had to move off of our Kansas farm due to health reasons and decided to relocate near her family in Colorado. My daughter relocated to college about 60 miles away from my mother for an entirely different reason. For once, I could fly into one airport and visit two family members.

Two key things I learned:

  1. Sometimes moving closer to family members does not necessarily mean they will make time to include you into their life.
  2. Allowing a closer opportunity can indeed make some relationship richer.

My mom was able to spend about two years with her older sister eating lunch together almost daily and every day sharing a morning coffee. Her sister moved into the same apartment building as my Mom, so they had a few wonderful years reconnecting. My daughter would head out after class, grab Chinese takeout food and drive the hour up to visit my mom each week. During these lunch dates, she got to learn about our family history. Often, Aunt Jody would attend these family meals. My daughter did the small things that will make an older person’s life better. She made sure the jars in the refrigerator were not too hard to open. She checked the pills were not running out. She gave my mom something to look forward to each week. I was living 8,500 miles away from my mom – my daughter was my personal hero.

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My favorite ‘sandwich’ in the world

With so many inspiring stories of gratitude to our heroes, The Gratitude Book Project: A Celebration of Personal Heroes is sure to warm your heart with love and appreciation for those whom we admire.

Do you know the Worldwide Stats? Protecting our kids


TXT ME L8R

Famous words we hope to all hear.

There were over 5,500 deaths and over 1.5 million accidents from distracted driving and texting last year. I wonder what the numbers would be if we checked it out worldwide? ( so many countries do not keep stats)

TXT ME L8R is a bridge at the crossroad of technology and the vulnerability from distracted driving and texting. I believe TXT ME L8R is a solution to the global problem of distracted driving and texting.

TXT ME L8R

If the phone is traveling faster than 5 mph then TXT ME L8R disables the functions of the phone. Your teenager can not send or receive text messages, use any of the apps on the phone (there is an exception list), all in-coming phone calls go straight to voicemail, and outgoing calls can be blocked. The app also auto-replies to the sender “TXT ME L8R – I am Driving”.

Check this out.

www.Txtmel8R.com

www.facebook.com/TXTMEL8R

Yes, it does work on our International kids phones!

 

 

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Geography Barriers in our Expat Lifestyle


Anyone whose main goal is to help others instead of thinking of obstacles to put in their way is definitely a hero in my eyes. When this person happens to be your own daughter, words can’t convey how you feel. Jackie is my hero.

My personal hero . . . Thanks, Jackie

Being part of two worlds that do not easily overlap, I am often flapping around the world like a bird without wings. When my “sandwich generation” collides with my expat work world, it seems like a disaster in the making. Having a child head off to college in the USA when you live 8,500 miles away has been hard. The challenge of adding another geographic barrier into my life as my mother ages has been hard.

Special time with my Mom

Special time with my Mom

Jackie is not an adult. She is shouldering the normal burdens that are associated with attending college: maintaining her own apartment and helping out with an aging grandma. When her classes are over, you will find her on the way to Grandma’s apartment. She takes lunch to her, catches up on what Grandma might need, and makes sure that I am kept in the loop of what is going on in regard to everyday life with my mother.

Sometimes the things Jackie does are small―making sure her grandma can open the jars that are in her own refrigerator. Sometimes the things are huge―making a three-hour trip just to help Grandma get from the airport back safe into her own apartment late at night. Jackie does all of this willingly.

As I report on Jackie, a teen hero, it makes me confident that this current generation of teens has some heroic and selfless people to run the world in the near future.

Now my mother has had to move to a full time nursing facility so she is not located near my daughter.  She is now living near my younger sister.  I am still separated by too many miles to count.  As expats, we need to have a whole group of family and friends who will step in and help when there are geography barriers in our lifestyle.

At the FIGT (Families in Global Transition) conference we had speaker after speaker talk about

The Global Family: Redefined

As my own family naturally changes, my global family is consonantly changing. I love the power of my own family to support my global lifestyle. I only hope that I can return the favors to them in the near future.

Notes:

 

Related article Here.

My story about Jackie was featured in A Celebration of Personal Heroes Produced by The Gratitude Book Project® Team, a division of Kozik Rocha, Inc. Smashwords Edition Copyright 2011 Kozik Rocha, Inc.

Review: Is your summer plan helping your child?


School Buses

School – Out for the Summer!

Many families put children into summer programs to “help” the child.  Sometimes you need to re-evaluate these programs. Are they doing what you want or need them to do?

Sometimes summer is better off spent in quality summer family time!

When I first started working with children, I would have said 99.9% of the time it is great to be five years old.  Now, I listen to kids…really listen to them.  It is just as hard to be five as it is to be fifteen.  Just different things matter but they still matter to the child.

Often a five year old will say his or her mind says one things but his or her mouth says another. This seems to be a common theme in teen years also. After working with some people, I have come to know it is also a common concern with adults often. How to teach a child to listen to their inner voice or mind, WAIT, and then let their mouth work is really hard work? You have to catch them in teachable moments so you can point out the skills they might want to have done instead of what they just did.

Research after research shows that this type of work is best done in small groups so each child can learn after each others comments, mistakes and successes. But it takes a very special person to do this group work.  They can’t preach. They can’t compare the kids in the group. They can’t expect their suggestions to be done the first time. They do have to be consistent. They do have to like each child in the group. They do have to have the patience to go over and over basic social skills.

Often parents put children into summer classes or situations hoping they will gain some ‘social skills’.

These classes seldom address what the child really needs. In fact, they often let the child try on more unsuccessful peer interactions and get away with more inappropriate behavior.

Children learn so much more with the interactions between themselves and their parents. This is when real learning starts to happen.

As a five year old told me…some fun things can be hard to do…and some hard things are actually fun!  Depends on the teacher!

Think about who is spending time with your child this summer – are they sending the right messages to your child?  If not, you need to step in and inform them that your expectations are higher and your child deserves more.

Don’t be passive when it comes to the role models in your child’s life.

Notes:  Photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/52462679@N06/5

Death: Overseas when the unthinkable happens


When a Family Member Dies Abroad

A  checklist for the most difficult of times.

The passing of a loved one irrevocably alters family life but it can impact an global family way more than you ever thought!

After a death, there is so much to deal with. Some things may be put on hold. But …This must be done, though, and it is better to do it sooner rather than later.

Status of Residency

Check with your embassy on the status of your residency in your host country. If the deceased is the ‘work permit’ holder things might move very quickly on your staus of being legally in that country.

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Death and Taxes: But what is just as certain in an Expat’s life?


With USA tax deadline looming, I can only spin it as I know how …the expat way!

repairs abroad
Repairs Abroad – HELP ME!

Benjamin Franklin said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.”

Taxes Worldwide

I have lived with USA taxes since I started working back in 1972. I was one of the lucky ones to get a summer job working at the local grain elevator. We would weigh the trucks going into the area full of wheat and then weight them after they dumped off the wheat. I got to check for moisture in the wheat which required crawling up into the bed of the truck and taking a random sample of the wheat. I often had wheat in my socks and shoes the rest of the day no matter how hard I tried to clean them off.

Recently, I was at an English class for non-native speakers, and we had five different languages improving their English skills. We were asked, “How many of you have driven a truck?” I was proud to be able to stand up and respond, “I have driven a truck.” This was impressive to many of the ladies in our group.

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Connections – My best buddy just left :(


It’s March and my child’s best friend just moved!  

jsimens Friends
What does a good friend mean to your child?

This was the panic call I received yesterday.  It is a very valid concern for many parents, even more so in International Schools where the population is so transit.

As an international counsellor, I have had many of our parents insist that their child be with their best friend in the next school year. Due to the movement in International Schools this means at some point in the near future, this child will seem friendless and so sad when their ‘best friend moves on.

Each and every child needs to feel connected and involved with other children. This is often through a common interest, gymnastics, after school activities, sleep overs and etc. This does not mean that during the school day that they need to be only connected to their best friend.

(more…)

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Connections – My best buddy just left :(


It’s March and my child’s best friend just moved!  

jsimens Friends
What does a good friend mean to your child?

This was the panic call I received yesterday.  It is a very valid concern for many parents, even more so in International Schools where the population is so transit.

As an international counsellor, I have had many of our parents insist that their child be with their best friend in the next school year. Due to the movement in International Schools this means at some point in the near future, this child will seem friendless and so sad when their ‘best friend moves on.

Each and every child needs to feel connected and involved with other children. This is often through a common interest, gymnastics, after school activities, sleep overs and etc. This does not mean that during the school day that they need to be only connected to their best friend.

(more…)

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How to Survive All Those Activities in 2013


Most parents want their child to have a better life than they have had. Yet, many parents don’t understand which skill is vital to instill in their children.

Picture 33

Perseverance

Building perseverance in our children is the most important skill we can show them how to master. Parents want their children to play sports, take dance lessons, practice the piano and attend art classes. Many parents sign their children up for religious activities or community services opportunities and academic activities after school.

Children who start an activity and then want to drop it can start a cycle of “quits” that will impact them forever. When a child begins this pattern or has a lot of “similar behaviors” in the long run and this can be a huge problem. It is important that children have a say in their life,but it is also important that parents set the ground rules.

This is key for global nomads since they have so many “stops” and “go” times in their lives due to their parent’s job. You want to give them everything you can to help them be successful.

Whether you are discussing the need to stop a team activity or an individual activity all families need to supply the following tips for future success with their children:

1. Clear Timeline of events that will happen

Example: Volleyball runs for 9 weeks and this also involves 5 weekends when you have games. Children need to know what to expect. This is often best in visual form so they really understand how big their commitment is. Parents should always show their child what it looks like on a calendar. Then the child should stick to what they committed to. Some sports do not have a natural ending point so parents and children should put on the calendar key times when they will sit down and review this decision. Children should not be able to change their mind unless it is at a review time, then they should have full say in what they do. Often children quit because of what a peer said, or how they feel in an isolated situation. They need to preserve for a while to make sure they are quitting for the right reason.

2. Understanding of parental expectation

Children need to know this prior to signing up to do an activity. Parents need to be honest about this and not “be wanting” their child to do something the parent always wanted to do when they were a child.

3. Successfully items of appreciation

Bribes still work well with some children. If you are trying to build a life long love for a sport or activity then it is OK to reward the child after a successful season with a special event. Achievement parties or completion of a successful season, should be planned in advance. Example: When the season is over we will hold a pizza party for the team. Or when the season is over you can choose a teammate and we will spend the weekend at the beach.

4. Parental involvement throughout the season.

Don’t expect your child to remain excited if you are only excited the first day of the season or at the award banquet.

5. Voice the behavior you want not the behavior you want to stop.

“Don’t be a quitter” will create a child that wants to “quit”. If a parent says, “Being committed to the end of the season will support your team mates,” these types of statements will help your child think about “the commitment”. It is true children only hear about half of what parents say so we need to say the positive outcomes we want.

These five tips work well with children of all ages and can make these hard decisions more enjoyable for everyone.

Note _ from book “Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child- Practical tips and storytelling techniques that will strengthen the global family”.

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