Wednesday, May 23, 2012

10 places most often blamed for school-refusal or futokoism

It's not your fault.

It's not your kid's fault.

It's not your kid's teacher's fault.

It's not your spouse's fault.

It's not the school's fault.

It's not society's fault.

It's not the grandparents' fault.

It's not the principal's fault.

It's not the dog's fault.

There is no fault.  There may be an issue, a problem to be solved, even.
But there is no fault, no blame to lay.

Kids who miss school are most often more sensitive, more self-aware than their classmates who get by because they wait for the next bell to ring and tell them where to go, what to study.

Futoko, school refusal kids are often on their own journey of self-reflection and self discovery.  Give them time and trust.  And love.  And an environment that remains open for communication.

Don't blame anyone, even yourself.

Who knows, someday you may want to take credit for this time in your kid's life...

Charlie Stratton
Freeschool I CAN
Niigata, Japan

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

10 x 10 = Dream List 100!

Taking the Powers of Ten idea to the next, exponential level!
At the request of my Monavie mentor, I was asked to re-write my list of 100 Dreams, my own "bucket list."

Well, I'm glad I revisited the list!  It came together over many months, and still hides, in a binder, amongst the piles of papers in this office.  Now, a copy also resides as an Excel document in my computer, and also on this blog.

Re-typing the list immediately got me in to a great, even excited mood.  LoA people would say my "vibration increased."  I felt it almost immediately as I REMEMBERED what it was I wanted to be doing with my time on this planet.

I was happy to note that 2 of the goal/dreams have already happened, almost without even trying: "Have a family (wife and 2 kids)" happened exactly like that (so far...?!) and I've been bungee jumping twice.

Some of the goals are still a bit nebulous: "accomplished guitarist" is at what point accomplished?
"Great Cook" is at what point great?

Others, I've kind of achieved, but not really.  "Raise great kids" is still a work in progress, and I don't know if a few mini tomatoes warrants checking off "Raise own Vegetables."

As I re-typed the Dreamlist, I noticed that some things could be grouped together.  Riding on animals.  Visiting places.

Nearing the end of the list, I noticed a pretty obvious progression from "Have" to "Do" to "Be" to "Feel." And I think that is the value of having 100 items on the list.  When we have all that we could possibly want, we start to think of what we want to experience.  Then who we want to be.  Finally, what we want to feel.

Open up an Excel sheet and see if you can get to 100.  You don't have to do it all in one sitting.  Keep it out prominently on your desktop or phonetop.  Open it often.  Remember what you are here to do. be. feel.

Here's the list:

1    Nobel Prize
2    Climb Everest
3     Have $1000000
4    swim with a whale
5    swim with a dolphin
6    write a movie and get it made
7    BE in a movie
8    Family (wife and two kids)
9    read Moby Dick
10    Go down the Amazon
11    Go on an aircraft carrier
12    Own a bar
13    Fly on a trapeeze
14    50-day hike
15    write my book
16    Ride a Harley down a mountain road
17    I CAN 100 kids
18    bungee jump
19    ride a killer whale
20    live in a log house on a river
21    see the Earth from space
22    drive and own a Jaguar
23    meet a president
24    visit the South Pole
25    Read all of Shakespeare
26    Be an accomplished photographer
27    Sail around the world
28    Raise horses
29    See the Mountain Gorillas
30    Grow my own vegetables
31    ski jump!
32    Learn about car care
33    see 5 Olympics
34    BE in the Olympics
35    go big game fishing
36    Visit Egypt
37    visit all 50 states
38    Go on an African Safari
39    run a full marathon
40    Go on Alaskan fishing trip/cruise
41    Learn to write Arabic and Korean
42    write a movie and get it made
43    become an accomplished guitarist
44    Get a masters degree
45    become a great cook
48    Get a PhD
49    Build a house
50    ride the trans-siberian railroad
51    donate $1,000,000
52    be in a rodeo
53    to to India
54    make $100,000 on the internet
55    ride a submarine
56    own a café
57    eat all 31 flavors
58    experience a sensory depravation tank
59    raise great kids
60    go hunting
61    stay in an ice hotel
62    go jet skiing
63    go ballooning
64    experience weightlessness
65    pilot an airplane
66    have personal eyesight
67    have my own personal chef
68    develop psychic powers
69    walk across the USA
70    date a model
71    ride an elephant
72    have 100 people attend my 100th birthday
73    make bread from my own wheat
74    achieve higher states of consciousness
75    see my kids graduate from high school
76    go river rafting in the Grand Canyon
77    see the aurora boreal
78    become a vegetarian
79    make good beer
80    Las Vegas high roller weekend!
81    See More Bears in Nature!   
82    buy a diamond   
83    go hang gliding   
84    Cycle across Japan   
85    sell an invention   
86    visit Paris with Emiko   
87    ride in and control a steam shovel   
88    sell something on ebay
89    Visit Russia
90    have a pet iguana
91    see a ghost
92    be on late night TV
93    live in a traditional Japanese farmhouse
94    Ride a camel
95    Be 68 kilos and strong
96    feel healthy
97     feel respected by peers
98    feel loved by family
99    leave a legacy
100  feel healthy, wise, happy!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

10 best things about summer in Japan

Okay, this is a bit country-specific, but since I'm right in the middle of a sweltering summer, without wife and kids, here in Japan, I thought I'd take some stock. It's a great place to spend summer, if it weren't for the damnned heat.

10. Festivals. Right. "Matsuri" are everywhere, yet these "parties in the street" can be further broken down, and in fact account for quite a bit of Japanese summer goodness. For instance:

9. Fireworks shows. These things are amazing. Go on for what seems like hours. One thing they could lose? The "sponsorship announcements" before each blast.

8. Girls wearing Yukata. The cotton "kimono" is of course less formal than its silk cousin. Fun. Easy on the eyes, too.

7. High school baseball. Right, seems strange, right? Imagine "March Madness" in August. In Osaka. With young high school guys going for it, giving their all, then crying at the end. Crack open an Asahi and turn on the Koshien tournament.

6. Iced Coffee. I swear. This is, aside from beer (and water with a lemon squeeze) the best summer drink around. In Japan you can buy it in cans ("Georgia" or "Boss") cartons, plastic bottles. But perhaps the best way is prepared by your favorite Kissaten (coffee shop) master. In Japan they have "gum syrup" to pour into your iced coffee so you don't have the problem of undissolved sugar crystals in the bottom of your glass. Actually, I kind of like that part. Another best part? The sound of the ice tinking in your glass as you take the first sip...

5. And now that were half way home, and have broken into the food/beverage category, I'd like to submit: SUIKA BARS! Suika (Watermelon) is of course a summertime treat. Leave it to the geniuses at Lotte to come up with a frozen ice candy version, which includes chocolate seeds! Definitely top 5. Maybe higher.

4. It will end. Right. One of the best things about experiencing the hot, swealtering humidity of Japanese summers is remembering that October is now just around the corner, with blue skies, cool air, colored leaves and feasts of the harvest. It's coming. I promise.

3. School's out! Well, yeah, for just about a month. And the schools give mountains of homework. Then you've got the semi-mandatory (read: "socially enforced") Radio Calisthenics starting at 6:30 every morning in the local parks. So yes, there's room for improvement, but summer vacation is still SUMMER VACATION!7

2. Music Festivals: Fuji Rock, Kodo, etc, etc, etc. Get sweaty grooving with strangers.

1. Did I miss anything? Kingyo sukui (goldfish scooping)? So-men (child thin wheat noodles in sauce)? Fu-rin (little wind chimes to make the breezes seem breezier)? Summer vegetables? Those puffy, summery cumulus clouds? Cicada catching? Swimming in the pool?

Let me know what makes your list for the best things of summer in Japan.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

10 more for Wednesday

10. Yuki called today to say he was sick with a cold and would take the day off. That, by itself, is not a good thing. It does, however, open the day up to other possibilities.

9. Getting Things Done: Family car needed to go in for "Shaken," the bi-annual check up, registration, oil change and tax bilking. Never cheap, at about $1000 US. But the car got in, and out, without much fuss. Check 'er off.

8. Ayumi the Volunteer continues to comunicate her feelings, thoughts, concerns. All while helping fill out a grant application. I think this girl, "raised" at I CAN since 15 years ago, is a keeper!

7. Getting Things Done (II): with 40 free minutes before 5:00, I thought I could sneak in a trip to the mall (JASCO) to submit our grant application. All recepts put in the "I CAN" box on the 11th of each month are totaled, and 5 percent is given as a voucher to spend as we like. Great for printer ink, games and toys for I CAN. Though the man in charge of the program was not in, it felt good to have the application out of my hands and into theirs full weeks before the deadline. I also snuck in a visit to the Board of Education with a similar result: the man whom I promised to bring Free School data from the Tokyo conference was not in, however, one more pile of paper moves from my desk to his. Promise fulfilled.

6. Pick up kids and dinner together! Dinner together is (sadly!) a rare event in our house. Emiko's stewed hamburger steaks were excellent, to boot.

5. Show me the Money!: When I tried to make an airline reservation in the morning, the representative said, "OK, fine, please deposit your money by Friday." After a flurry of phone calls, 3 people came by to give me wads of cash. Excellent!

4. One of the homestay participant mothers is a native of Kumamoto, and knows the actual island where I CAN is trying to set up a support school system. Dolphins galore, she says. New consultant?

3. Asking Emiko for help getting the kids ready for bed. While not a "best 10" item, this exchange colored the evening for us: When I requested she postpone her blogging till after the kids were asleep, she exploded with "After all I do around here!" noise. She is not feeling herself lately, and work issues and childcare issues are not easily dismissed for her. Anyway, asking for help had this benefit:

2. Kids in bed a bit earlier. This has been an issue because the next morning is determined by what happens at bedtime. This has helped.

1. My own bedtime more reasonable, a rare 11:pm futon entry. Alarms set for 7:am.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Discipline (self-)

Here we start another set of consecutive blog posts. I wrote here earlier that "Powers of Ten" are important and valuable because that number, that nice, round, 2 digit number 10, is just enough items to make us stretch...just a little. So here are my 10 best from yesterday:

10. Good poo-poo in the morning. Yes, showing my age as an old(er) fart. However, as starts of the day go, this and a hot shower make for a pretty good one.

9. Smooth, non-demanding Monday at work. This week, for me, started slow...which was about the pace I needed.

8. Winter Olympics on TV. A nice change from the usual silly Japanese "comedy" that otherwise would be blaring.

7. Deepening friendships. My Canadian friend, B, is a giant of a man who has been living here in Japan for about as long as I have. J-wife, 3 "half and half" kids. We kind of pass each other in the office between English lessons, but we had a first real conversation today. First, messaging via Facebook, then in real life. Seems he has decided to send his kid on our I CAN's homestay program this year. (see #1)

6. Good conversation with Y at our English school. Spending an extra hour there, instead of just rushing in and out for lessons only, leads to better communication, better relationships between staff, better English lessons and school overall. (Duh.)

5. Winning a game of backgammon. Not a biggie, but better than losing! Doubles rule.

4. Getting home before 9:pm. This means 1) I kept a promise to my son -- when in fact there were chances to break it. I was glad to have the chance to test my keeping of boundaries, and glad to pass the test. 2) More time at home: more hugs with kids and conversation with wife (see #2)

3. Nibble from I CAN potential member. We will be graduating our last, best member this spring, so I am "requiring" 3-4-5-6 new members for our free school in the spring. I still love it when the phone rings with these kinds of calls. "I found your website..." she said.

2. Good practice of spousal listening! Wife E. had a crappy day today, and wanted to vent about it. Sure, the Olympics were on. My "impulse" was to grunt agreement/condolence while my eyes were on snowboarding, but I suspected that this was important. I made a conscious effort to keep eye contact, to listen to her story to the end (hint: it was not short). Result: she felt listened to, and even said thanks!

1. Along with Canadian B. above, a late night phone call led to two more homestay participants meaning: at present we have 6 members, meaning the trip is a "GO!" I will close the applications this evening, but there still may be 2 or 3 or 4 more coming. AMAZING how much energy I got from that call. Hell, I was washing a sink full of dishing literally singing a tune when E. came in and said, "Are you OK?" Made for a great end to an excellent day, and good payoff for 2 months of hard promotion work.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

10 Ways to Feel Better

Tupelo and Janey are two
Law of Attraction proponents AND folk musicians.

What they put in my mailbox today was too good not to share:

Thanks to Iain Legg for these common-sense tips:

1. DON'T give away your power to people. Take responsibility for
your life. If things aren't going as hoped in your life, re examine
your deepest beliefs. Swap limiting beliefs for empowering ones.

2. DO get a pet! According to Power vs. Force, a purring cat
vibrates at 500 (anything over 200 is good..) . . . Janey's cat,
Pooder, must vibrate at least 800 - so fast, it makes his hair fall

3. DON'T watch movies that drag you down. According to Power vs.
Force, this is most films. Watch movies that will make you feel
good. Listen to music that fills you with positive emotions. Read
books that empower you. (Control the input to your brain, and
you'll control your output).

4. DO focus on what you want in your life, not what you don't
want - remember the law of attraction... You have the power to
create the life of your dreams - even if the world around you seems
messed up, don't lose focus...

5. DO imagine that what you dream of is in your life now, and
feel grateful for it now ...and after that think of 10 more things
to be grateful for.

6. DO have fun. Life is about being happy. Don't wait until you
have this, or that... Don't put off happiness. Live now. Enjoy now.

7. DO seek to discover the truth about the meaning of your life.
The answers are there if you look for them. Awareness and peace of
mind are high vibrations.

8. DON'T watch the news on television. It is filled with
negativity which lowers your vibrations. (Why is 95% of all news
all the time focused on bad news? Hint: It's about marketing and
control.) If you want to keep abreast of current affairs search the
internet for independent, unbiased news. Seek the truth. Trust your
intuition. This will also help you give you a much more balanced
view of reality. There's lots of good news
out there if you're looking for it...

9. DO help other people. Forgiveness, compassion
and understanding are good vibrations.

10. DO use tools and strategies to help you achieve higher
levels of consciousness, such as meditation and the free Alpha
audio you can get here . . .

(Hint: The direct link is in the P.S.)

There are lots of other powerful tools available there, so look

Celebrate Life,
Tupelo and Janey
Laughing Bird

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Monday, June 22, 2009

10 easy lists to create health, wealth, wisdom

List your 10 favorite sports. Do one, by yourself or with a friend!

List your 10 favorite places in your town. Visit one this weekend.

List your 10 favorite qualities of yourself. Then list 10 more.

List your 10 best friends. Do you have their phone numbers? Call one now. No texting!

What 10 things could you do today to SAVE money? Do one now.

Do you have 10 ideas to MAKE money? What is one thing you could do this weekend to put $100 (10 times 10) in your pocket?

What 10 countries will you visit while on this planet?

Make a list of ten things you eat too much of.

Next, make a list of 10 foods you love that will also nourish you.

Write down 10 ways to say, “I love you.”