Thursday, November 4, 2010

Porter's new focus

One of the things I have accomplished was a regrouping with Porter.  I knew he wasn't working as hard in homeschool and in Chinese as he could.  The one thing Porter is known for is his work ethic.  The coaches always adore Porter for that.  He may not have the most natural talent, but he works circles around most of the other kids.  He always get the award for hardest worker or most improved.

Porter and I went to lunch on Saturday.  I took a notepad and these are some of the things we discussed.

- we wrote down all his activities, subjects in school and responsibilities
- I asked him what his three favorite were (one was swimming of course, but then shocked to find out that math and science came before any other things I'd consider fun.  What an amazing kid)
- I asked him which things he'd like to have the most improvement in
- I asked him which ones he's needing the most help with
- we discussed if there were any he would rather not be doing
- we discussed what he liked about each one
- we make a weekly calendar fit in the things he wanted to do
- we came up with an incentive plan to stay on task (an i-pad, he'll have to work diligently for 6 months to earn it, but he's excited)
- I asked him how things were with friends
- I asked him if there was anything he was concerned about with our family
- I asked him if there was anything he wanted to talk to me about

I'm proud to say it never got confrontational and we came to some great solutions and l learned more about Porter than I knew before.  We came up with a point system to help him earn his i-pad.  He truly has important things to do in this life.  I'm so blessed to have him as my son!!

Last night he asked me if I had his chart made up for him.  He's been getting up earlier and seems to be acting more like the Porter I knew was in him.  He also told me he was going to ask the swim coach if he can practice longer sets.  He has added 2 longer sets a week and wants to bump it to 4.  He also had his homework for Thursday done by Tuesday without being reminded.  Things are on the up swing with him!!  Woo hoo!!  Now time for me to do my job and follow up.  He will also spend some time this weekend on the computer looking at the i-pad and all the things it does to keep his motivation up. 

Then comes mercy, God's tenderness and confirmation

As hard as I tried I couldn't get out of my funk.  I was getting discourage at my lack of energy and enthusiasm for much of anything.  I couldn't get myself back to the gym, I didn't want to work on my "regroup" project anymore, my spark felt like it had been blown out. 

Monday night Neil mentioned that one of our original salespeople had called him and told him that he had tried to get out of his comfort zone and make new contacts.  That was a delight to hear.  But then Wednesday the phone rang and it was this same salesman, "Michelle, I just called you to eat a little crow."  I laughed a little and said "Oh yeah, I heard you had a good experience yesterday."  "Well yeah, but today was actually even better."  He proceeded to tell me about his day and how some of my advice that he had dug his heals in against had actually helped him.  I didn't do any "I told you so's" like his was worried I would, but congratulated him with a great deal of enthusiasm.  I was simply thrilled for him.  One of my greatest joys truly is to help others find success in what ever goal they may have.  I was so thrilled for him!!! 

I knew our new salesperson was having an appointment that evening so I called him to wish him luck.  He later called that night to tell us that the appointment was a success, that the farmer wanted to meet with Neil and get just a little more info, but the meeting was a success!!!  Things were finally starting to look up.

I after talking to both of the other two salespeople I kept getting the feeling I should make a call to the third salesperson to see how he was doing and if there was anything we could do to help.  As a side note, the salespeople had all given me a little bit of a hard time about knowing much of anything that they hadn't already heard before.  I just kind of laughed to myself and thought, "They'll feel differently after I share what I know and understand."  All our salespeople have both regular jobs and then have taken on this as a "privately contracted salesperson."  We got to talking about his regular job and asked me basically if I thought I might be able to help him in that area too.  It was a huge compliment!!!!  I told him I'd love to and was scheduled an appointment to get together. 

In addition to having some good reports from our salespeople, I had taught my youth class on Tues.  As I walked into class the girls had written on the board, "Success skills rocks."  They are so cute.  Each girl had commented that this was their favorite class.  As great as that is for my ego, the greatest gift yesterday was when I asked them to write down their top three goals.  Most people are a little nervous about sharing their goals in front of others.  These girls were of course the same way in the beginning.  I called on one of the girls and asked her if she'd share her goals.  She said quickly and with a smile, "sure!"  I was in shock.  These gals had come so far, they trusted not only me but also each other and they were excited to dream, set goals and make those goals happen.  I had them each write on a calendar exactly when they were going to do the activities they needed to to fulfill their goals.  There was no hesitation and they worked diligently.  I was brimming with joy.  I'm truly looking forward to finding ways to do more "group" teaching.  I knew how one on one teaching worked, but it was the confirmation I needed that a group setting could work too. 

By last night I was finally starting to feel more like myself and had hope that I'd finally figure out "what I was suppose to be when I grew up."  LOL  I have wanted to be able to train people in any area of life when it came to goals in addition to any area of sales.  I love training and it gives me such a natural high.  I feel like I'm moving in the right direction and am so grateful for the tender mercies we are offered when we are in a low place. 

I'm happy to say I've continued to keep the TV off and been on FB very little. Last night Porter had been reading comics in the newspaper and had found a sudoku puzzle.  He came and asked if I knew how to do it.  For anyone that knows me knows that I am really lousy at sitting down and playing games.  I'll even avoid baby showers because I hate games so much.  But I can tolerate many games if they involve numbers.  I'm such a geek!!  Porter and I had a delightful time together figuring out the puzzle.  I'm quite certain that wouldn't have happened had the TV been on.  Those little successes are things I'm going to be proud of myself for and get back to my 30 day regroup.  Life doesn't always go smoothly, but how well we ride the turbulence can make a big difference.  For anyone feeling discouraged like I have been, another one of my favorite books is "Failing Forward."  I listened to it this morning as I worked out.  It was great to be reminded that there are no failures in life, just learning experiences.  And if we are seeing something as a failure, that surely doesn't make US a failure.  We are all children of our Heavenly Father. 

I knew it wouldn't be all smooth sailing, but honestly......

After day eight I was well aware I wouldn't accomplish much on my "regrouping" project.  I knew when I started this that even though I was committed to not taking on more projects and saying no where I could, that I still had several commitments that I needed to fulfill.  Tues-Thurs was back to back appointments, meetings and social engagements.  I was getting through those days pretty well.  I loved the things I was doing, from classes I was teaching on Success Skills to meetings and events with Soroptimist.  I then was blessed to meet a gentleman who wanted to clean my carpet.  At first I was simply excited to get that off my check list.  But as we talked I realized that he might be a great salesperson for Neil's agronomy business.  We chatted for a bit and as I realized that he had a farming  background and a MBA, I looked at him and said straight out, "Listen, I believe that sometimes we are meant to meet certain people in our lives.  Can I tell you a little bit about what my husband is doing?"  He said sure and as I explained to him he seemed rather interested and I invited him to the training on had the next night with the other salespeople. 

He arrived before the other salespeople arrived and that gave him and Neil some time to talk.  He showed him the program and he was texting people about it before he even left the room.  It was exciting to see his proactive way of going about things. 

We then met with him and his brother the next day to see if it was something he's be interested in.  It was great to see the enthusiasm and "go get 'em" attitude they had. 

On Thursday as I ran about doing the Taxi driver thing and holding the appointments I had, I received an email on my phone just 30 mins before a Soroptimist "new member" meetings I was attending.  I had 2 guests coming and wanted to be on my game.  As I read the email I was a bit taken back.  Let me step back and explain a few things.  Currently a majority of the students I have are homeschool students that participate in programs connected with the state.  By doing that they receive funding to help pay for classes, activities, books, learning programs etc....  That is how most of my students are thus paying me.  But I was having the "World Language House" bill them.  I was a teacher for the WLH and thus they bill the homeschool organizations and WLH keeps a cut for doing the paper work.  I was teaching both classes at the WLH and private one on one classes.  Back to the email....  I get an email from the WLH stating that my private students weren't covered under her liability insurance, so she wouldn't do the billing for me and all the work I'd done that month outside the WLH wouldn't be paid for and neither would any in the future.  There was absolutely no discussion of options, phone call anything.  It was dropped like a bomb and then an email went out to the parents directly after mine and so within 5 mins of getting the email I was getting phone calls from parents asking what was going on. 

I felt like I'd been hit by a truck.  These students mean the world to me and I put my heart into my work and love to see the kids develop their talents. 

To make a long story short and went and confronted her face to face because I was so discussed with her lack of professionalism and sending this out as an email.  She expressed her concerns basically accused me of not being qualified to do what I did and even questioned what it is I teach the students.  This after helping her with her business for months for free. 

I wanted so much to not let what she had said bother me, to just roll with it.  I stopped and thought about each and every student I'd worked with.  I knew the successes each had had.  I knew the comments the parents had made and their feelings on the changes their children had made.  I know I always can learn more and do better, but I also knew I had provided good service and made a difference.  I had to slow down and digest and brainstorm.  I watched several movies, ate too much chocolate and cried for 24-48 hours then put on my thinking cap. 

I love working with homeschoolers and I can get licensed so that I can bill directly for the homeschoolers.  That can all be "fixed" but I can go back and be paid for the work I've already done.  Oh well......  But as I thought about who might want this kind of service I then decided that the private schools might be where I want to attempt to advertise.  I called a friend of mine whose children are in a private school and she works there.  She let me come over and pick her brain which I was very grateful for.  It at least got me thinking and brainstorming instead of just fussing. 

Nonetheless, I still just felt so blue.  Neil and I were trying to work some things out and come to some understandings and that wasn't going very smoothly.  And I just didn't feel like eating any "FROG" what so ever!!! 

I knew when I started this thats one I was very busy and I was going to have to be deliberate about making time to get things done.  And I even knew challences would arise because Satan always tries to mess up our good intentions.  Sigh..... 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 8

I'm so excited I started my day off right with exercise!!  I wanted to last week and just wasn't making it happen.  I've been off my groove but  want to run the 5K on Thanksgiving.  So I set a goal for myself this morning of running one mile without stopping and I did it!!  I really needed that "little success."  3.1 miles, here I come!!! 
Then I came home and turned into "ugly mom."  Dang it and the day started out so well.  I ran Abi to school then came home to pick up Porter and Hayden for their schools.  I asked Porter to grab his history book so I could make some copies while I waited for him.  He grabbed last years, (seriously????) and then couldn't find this years.  I just lost it.  One I was mad at him for just flat out not knowing where his materials were and frustrated because I was trying to be organized and proactive and it wasn't working the way I'd hoped.  We went up to his room which was such a disaster.  We looked for it and couldn't find it so I told him he'd have to miss karate and we needed to get this room and his schooling better under control.

He was not happy about missing Karate and tore in his room.  It was about time.  I decided that his room just wasn't functioning well.  He has a full size bed that he doesn't want to share with Hayden and a dresser that is falling apart.  I'd got a check unexpectedly from a mixed up tax return and some money from students so I didn't need to take much out of our account to go and buy the boys the bunk beds they'd been needing.  I had already been looking, so I marched in the store, told them exactly what I wanted and bought what the boys needed. I felt like I'd bit the head off that dang frog and was close to downing the rest of him.  I'm starting to just attack projects and it feels great.  The boys are so excited!!

I picked up Hayden from school, took the kids to Chinese, picked up guitar picks and bought a bunk bed and dresser all in about 90 mins.  I then met with one of my students and got a phone call while I was with him. 

It was a mom of one of my other students, I asked her if everything was ok, and she said not really.  I told her I'd call her back.  Do you ever have times in your life when someone elses challenges help you figure out your own?  I knew I wasn't doing a very good job following up with Porter and wasnt' exactly sure how to handle it.  This mom was telling me about her daughter and the challenges she was facing.  As I talked to her and discussed some possible solutions, it helped me figure out what to do for Porter.  I started sharing with her some things I'd learned on leadership.  Are you all ready for a whole new list of books, LOL!!??  The first one I love is called "Bringing out the best in others."  It teaches that people will do what ever it takes to get attention.  But the worst thing we can do to any human being is to no feedback at all.  It is better to give negative feedback than none.  In fact it is used as a torture method, put someone in a room with no lights, no stimulation and no human contact and they will snap far faster than someone being physically tortured. 

As we talked I shared with her how she needed to not react at all when she was doing something that would constitute a normal negative response, but give her a system for getting a positive response and respond big then when she did accomplish "X."  So for example, if she does her math homework sloppy, just ask her to re-do it until it's done right with not reaction and then when it is, sing her praises.  We also talked about that everyone needs different kinds of positive responses or love.  Thus a discussion on the "5 love languages" began.  If she understood what her language was, she might behave less needy she not constantly crave attention and affirmation. 

As Abi has been in the dual language program, the last thing that clicked for her was the speaking part.  I made a calendar for her with 1-5 in each box.  Her teacher would then circle one of the numbers to represent he effort. After she earned so many points she got to pick a reward.  We discussed this further and how important it is to praise "hard work" vs "intelligence or talent" because it has a huge impact on how they handle challenges as they arise.  The one who knows they can work hard, stick to a challenge.  The one who thinks they are "smart" will get easily discouraged when it no longer comes easily. 

So, I decided for Porter I'd make him a chart and for each things he needs to accomplish each day he'll get a a score that reflects his efforts and we'd come up with a reward in the end.  Of course, this is yet another habit that I have to create and follow up will be essential!!  Luckily if the reward is big enough, they remember to bring the work and chart to you.  I'm so grateful for the phone call today!! 

One of the things on my list is to have the carpets cleaned.  I love how the universe will help you when you are focused on your goals!!  I got a knocked at the door and a gentleman was advertising for carpet cleaning, I invited him in and discussed what he could do for me and set a date for the cleaning!!  Woo hoo, I can't wait!  As we talked I learned more about his background. I shared with him what Neil does and told him that we were looking for salespeople.  Him and possibly his brother are going to come to our business training tomorrow night.  This gentleman had a MBA and had grown up on a farm.  Thus he has the farming know how and is good at business.  This could be a great fit.  It will be fun to see how this turns out! 

We carved pumpkins tonight and before I could do that, I did something I'm not good at, getting right up and cleaning the kitchen after dinner.  It felt great to have it done and to not have to think about it the rest of the night.  New habits, woo hoo.... just have to keep at it!! 

I am proud of the fact that I tossed so much out this weekend the I filled the garbage can that was just emptied on Friday.  Hmmmmm, maybe I should say I'm embarrassed to say I had that much to toss out, and quite frankly I know there is more to go!!!  LOL 

To bed I go so I can keep at those goals tomorrow.  I hope you enjoy this week; carving pumpkins, making caramel apples, playing dress up and trick or treating!!  This is my favorite time of the year!! 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

systems and/or habits

One of my favorite books is called, "The Power of Focus."  I have to give a thank you here.  My dearest brother Matt bought and sent this book to me years ago.  He is truly a great example and inspiration to me.  He is one of the best!!  I've poured over it so many times its starting to fall apart.  So I was incredibly thrilled when I found "The Power of Focus for Women" the other day.  I haven't gotten very far into, but the parts I did read were great.  It even has a small comment on each chapter on "How men see it."  I love it, it helps me to understand where they are coming from and how to better support them in their goals. 

What I love about my job is how I teach people, any thing you want to do differently involves making changes.  So many people are hard on themselves when they feel like they fail at starting a new exercise routine, a financial plan etc....  But creating a new habit is difficult and we can only stop a bad habit by replacing it with a new one.  When one understands this, we can all be kinder to ourselves and simply take the time to learn the skills to make those changes. 

My days are very full (as is everyone), so I desperately need to take my list of "to dos" and figure out if there is a specific time I can do each thing and make it a habit or what I can do to make some parts of my life a little more systematic. 

The simple fact is that I have to start getting up earlier!!  It just has to happen.  So I'm so happy I've been able to stop watching TV because I have to get to bed earlier to make that happen.  So I'm am part way there already. 

Some areas of my life I want to create some systems/habits for;

-food prep
-house cleaning
       -bill paying
       -retirement preparation
-work - my business
-cleaning the car

Just like everyone, there are some things I'm doing well in these areas and yet there are things I'd greatly like to improve on!!!

Day 7

The kids were sick so we stayed home from church.  I took that time to keep working on my office.  I made a bold decision and have chosen to finally get rid of all my Jewels by Park Lane supplies.  I took a deep breath and tossed everything that was old and called a gal I knew who is selling and told her that if she'd just come and get them out of my house, she could have all my business supplies.  Big sigh.......  I really love working with my students and hope to find more and more students.  Having this "maybe" career hanging in my office wasn't helping me go after my goals.   I have an empty shelving unit now that I can work with. 
I went through lots of paperwork that had been in piles.  I don't know what I was thinking or rather not thinking.  I've got to get some systems in place.  I'm working on it and it feels good. 

I updated my calendar between my phone and my computer, looked at my up-coming week, and list of things to do tonight.  In addition, I make a menu plan and chore schedule for the kids.  Now I've just got to get my self to keep doing this weekly!!  I'm going to set myself an alarm on my phone and remind myself.  It's all about habits! 

Neil and I had an agreement to watch our favorite shows together on the weekends, so when he got home from his trip we watched football and Castle.  Its a small thing, but I know I need to keep my word about stuff like that. 

My week is so full, not only the days, but I have something scheduled every single night, but hopefully I'm a little more prepared.  I've also written in time to keep working on my "regroup" and my Saturday is completely open.  Bring on the new week!!

The scrapbook supply delema

As much as I at one time loved to scrapbook and as much as I need a hobby and a creative outlet, it's just not going to be scrapbooking ever again.  Well, I would actually like to do some online scrapbook booking and have books printed, but they definitely don't cost any more than the supplies do and I think after practicing it would take less time. 

What I'd love to do is learn more about taking better and more creative pictures.  I loved scrapbooking at one time and I love to look at others work!  Its fun, creative and preserves memories.  But I want to learn how to take a more captivating picture and worry less about the embellishments that go with it.  That just where I'm at. 

Now what do I do with all the stuff I'm accumulated.  Scrapbooking and stamping has served me well in the past.  I made a living with it, made lots of friends and even did some traveling because if it.  I've got most of my stash at a discount, but I still have accumulated way too much stuff that I doubt highly I'll ever use or miss most of it.  I want it out of my house.  I seriously don't want to take the time to do a garage sale or ebay it.  I wonder if Craig list is easier and/or faster.  I'd love for someone to come buy the whole stash and they can ebay it to their hearts content etc...  I have lots of stamps, stickers, paper, die cuts (fonts and shapes), embellishments, the list goes on!  I think I'll start with getting in all in one spot and then think about advertising on Craig's list.  If anyone has a better idea or even wants to take it off my hands, let me know. 

I know I'll keep some of the paper, that I can use for dream boards with my students, but the rest needs to go. 

Why do we hang on to stuff?  There is nothing like going through a box, a drawer etc... and finding stuff we forget we ever had.  Sometimes I think any box I haven't opened in the garage for over a year I should just toss without even looking inside.  If I haven't needed if for a year, I probably won't ever need it.  Hmmmm....  I have some tough love to do with myself.