Perseverance By David R, Otey

I wrote a piece recently about the struggle to accomplish any dream. A friend of mine commented with one word: perseverance. I sat looking at that word, sort of stunned because that was NOT my point at all. Perseverance was not the same thing I was attempting to describe. I was not upset with the one word comment but it revealed to me that I missed the clear communication goal.

It is too easy to say to someone, “you simply must persevere, never give up, keep on going, no matter what befalls you, regardless the storms and tempests,…..”. To say that to anyone is giving a quick pseudo-shallow cheer leading phrase. It lacks the depth of HOW do you persevere. THAT’s the challenge. What does it take to overcome the deeply inset beliefs to stop, to quit, to hold off, to give up, to think too long about something before acting upon it.  Many people have been consistently leashed by comments from their family and relatives. As one phrase goes, sort of: a prophet has no honor in his own country. Dragged through consistent doubt in all phases of childhood, and seeing consistent examples of quitting, complaining and moving away to “greener pastures”  (until it’s time to mow the lawn) from family members solidifies and enhances a weak will power.

Time goes by though and the calling from that natural talent and desire begins to scream for existence, for a place and space in the tangible world, to be seen, felt, understood, accepted and included into the lives of others. If the weak willed person has enough intelligence and drive to connect to people of strong will who share the same dreams and goals, then the healing and strengthening of that will can happen.

Perseverance comes from a trained mindset, unless one is born extremely stubborn and perhaps extrmely self-centered to the point of making darn sure they get their way no matter what.  Perseverance requires believing you deserve what you want to have or to be. Perseverance requires a positive obsession of completing the steps of every plan as soon as possible. Perseverance, for many of us, must be introduced to our personalities, to our subconscious, to our inner belief system by someone else who knows how it all works. Whether by accident or providence, we must connect with that aura, spirit and faith of perseverance. Then we will be able to do it and bring the dream to the table of life.   End.

When the Sun comes up. By Dave R. Otey

When the sun comes up the day is bright again. The paths are clear to see. The directions are easy to choose, the potholes and rough spots are easy to avoid. Clarity makes peace and progress possible and definite.  We have our sights set clear and wide, to change our directions to a happier life. Until the next set of clouds that form a storm that makes a darkness and a mood forlorn,

I wonder many times where the clouds come from: the ones within ourselves. What wind brings them in and how are they formed ? What sight or smell, or sound or touch, or taste can turn around our state of mind from joy to fear, from confidence to doubt, to hiding inside instead of going out ?  What pain within gives rise to pointing and yelling instead of finding the way to resolve whatever we think or know is the cause ? What makes us forget the peace and good we have to turn away into self-pity and spiritual depression ?

Hope is happy, the promise of a chance to see life get better, to feel connected to others who care and are waiting to give. Hope connects to the HOW TO, for knowledge of the steps to make, when and where. Hope points out the beliefs that must change to form the right empowering thoughts that must be focused on to provide the guiding insights that energize the desire and drive to confidently commit to the actions that are the steps from where you are to where you want to be.

Where does the rising sun of hope come from? From the right questions.  Why am I off the path of confidence and happiness ?  What needs to change ? What did I say or do that took me off the path ? What do I need to say and do to get back on the path ?  Is there anything I need to stop doing, to stop saying to myself and others to make that shift back onto the path ?  Who must I connect with to help me ?

Life is much better with good wise friends and sometimes strangers God provides along the way to help ”see” what we missed along the way and show us what we need to realign our spirits with peace and happiness.  Who are your sun rays of HOPE ?  Who are YOU a sun ray of hope for ?   Keep the lights shining every chance you get. Make every day glow for others and yourself.    End.

WHERE AND HOW DO I FIT IN AROUND HERE ? BY DAVID REID OTEY

We have to be right about some things to feel qualified to exist. That is why frustration is so strong when we’re wrong. Belonging to life means belonging to other people. Most of that belonging is to “fit in”. We fit in with clothing style, hair style, language/lingo, body marks or lack of, tastes in food, literature, films, hang outs for social fellowship, points of view with a degree of individual differences allowed, as long as intelligent discussion can take place, AND with being recognized as “right” about ‘anything’ once in a while. It’s a praise to hear, “Well, yeah, you’re right about that.”, as a ‘just scraping by’ acceptance from a member of the group.

The ‘being right’ part is more important than the rest because it’s easy to change or excuse something about any of the other elements, but to NOT match in mental blend means one of two things: you really don’t belong in that group by nature of who you are–and therefore should get out and find the group you really do match with—OR you are labeled as the ‘joker’ card of the group—and that is a social death blow for continuous social contact because ‘invitations’ to special events will not reach the joker, thus being cut off, and that action will become common knowledge among others and will eventually lead to the ears of the joker who will then be depressed, etc. Bottom line, the joker card spot is never a permanent position for anyone. If the joker doesn’t leave by half-way intelligent free will, the group will make sure the door is closed with a subtle ‘shunning’. The subtle shunning is far worse than the “in your face” shunning. Direct insults are always better because you can yell back in their faces regardless of being wrong or right about it. At least you get the satisfaction of standing up to the ‘mean ones’. BUT subtle shunning is cruel and feels like a knife being slowly pushed in. NOT GOOD.

There is strong merit to this idea that we REALLY DO need to be right about a certain percentage of things in life, to feel that we have a right to exist at all. Belonging to people as a group is the purpose of existing, perhaps. This can explain the extreme inner spirit pain that so many feel to the point of committing suicide. They really feel that they do not belong, that they cannot be right about anything, or what they want to be right about. And maybe they do not want to belong to a different group.

Their (our) perspective of which groups are important is where the wiring might be a bit skewed, twisted, off set. We gain much of our “opinions” through conditioning of facts and fictions mixed. The conditioning comes from family and friends, each being led by traditions and beliefs from private or social cultures and the current community culture of ‘what’s cool today’ in connections to music, clothes, political viewpoint, hang outs, lingo, etc. The fact is, every group—good or bad, sane or crazy– has a following, a fan club, a history and, especially in these times, an outlet of connection and fellowship through internet, world connections for chat, hook ups, you name it, it’s all possible. SO, the pressure is on “being where you are”, fitting in where you see actual people walking around you. It doesn’t matter, in a sense, if you DO belong to some group NOT physically represented where you live. What matters most is belonging to people you can immediately touch, see eye to eye and talk personally to while looking in their eyes and feeling the energies from their presence directly. THAT’S the winning card. It’s the big gold ticket like Willy Wonka’s chocolate bar prize.

I just have to be right about all of this. 🙂 Why ? Because sanity is extremely important if you want to hang on long enough to see the proof that we all belong, we are all important and we all have someone who deeply loves us for who we are because we match their energies in some ways, some of the times and that’s all we really need to belong, to be right in the connection sense instead in the fact sense.

You already belong. The journey of life is to find where and then to recognize and accept when to change, as you grow inside toward other groups that provide what you need next for your spiritual journey. Eventually there will be some groups you always belong to. Relax and enjoy the journey and be brave and bold when you walk where you live. Be true to your sense of yourself, and if you cannot find the group that matches you, start your own. Then you will see them show up from their own hiding places because someone was brave enough to give them permission to be ok.

The end.

Education’s Changing/Unchanging Cycle By David R. Otey

It is crazy the way the same road of education is taken over and over again. To me, it looks like only one road is traveled on.  At a certain point someone goes back to where we used to be and repaints that part of the road a different color, adding some new bushes and benches, new clocks and happy music from a speaker. Then they shout ahead and say to the leaders, “Hey, turn them around. We’ve got this section ready for them again.”  No matter how you dress up state standards, change the lingo to create the “new and improved” paradigms, restructure and repackage the curriculums to sell the same content for higher prices, tack on a “new and improved” state testing system worth billions to the geniuses behind that, present some very serious looking smart people in front of a camera for the ‘public display’ of intelligence at work, it’s STILL the same routine, the same interference of non-educators making the rules for “real” teachers. The content is the same, too.

What I understand from the articles and videos I’ve studied so far about the origin, the con-artist push for connecting to states with financial aid packages to accept the program without public involvement, and the methods of practice involved with the Common Core Standards and the multi-million dollar business creating matching curriculums and matching state tests, there are two main factors that stand out.

One main factor is the utopian idea of a national set of educational standards. This forces every participating state to accept new curriculums, making them replace very good already being used great curriculum  Every kid studying exactly the same thing at the same time so they all come out of the cookie cutter assembly line with exactly the same smartness and abilities for academic wonder kids. Imagine the kid assembly line idea Pink Floyd used in their classic film, The Wall (1982)-for their  song, Another Brick in the Wall.  Now is the time, I guess, for the country to try and do with schools what has been successful for fast food franchises. Uniformity for the sake of conformity, for the sake of having a stronger hold to ensure the survival of a dying system of education that has not met the needs of society for the past 50 years at least.

Is there really that much difference between the states for teaching Reading, Writing , language and Math ?  I was educated in New York, Florida, Georgia and Maryland when I was growing up between 1960 and 1972 when I graduated. I remember all the numbers looking the same everywhere I went. The letters for the words looked the same, too. Even their sounds were the same, give or take a slight difference in dialect for pronunciation. I was taught the same lessons for periods and commas and exclamation points–all of that stuff. It was all exactly the same in every blessed school I attended.

How about this ”new math” idea coming around with Common Core, driving the parents and teachers–I’m one of each–crazy. Guess what. It is NOT new math. It is another style, another method, another way of looking at how to process numbers. It’s been around a long time, taught in higher level course work. I feel like it was purposely chosen to alienate the parents from being able to have any control over the education process and direction. The programs disable the effectiveness of parents in relating to their children for school work.  My school recently sent a letter to the parents stating we are doing all we can to also master the new forced changes and will try to help them as much as possible, for the parents to please remain patient and to call with any questions and the teachers will collaborate with the parents.

I work a full time job in special education in a grade school, and I shake my head at this ridiculousness. I also foresee a great increase in the population of the kids I teach. Just watch the “resource rooms” blossom in population within the next 5 years. The only plan to prevent that might lie in the fact that our state has been requiring that by the year 2015, if I’m not mistaken, every special ed. kid is to spend 80% of his/her day in a regular class room. Combined with that has been the push to make every class room contain 2 teachers teaching along side each other, sharing the responsibilities of both groups of kids in the same room. You already know how that works, don’t you. The same as it always has worked. The main lecture of the lesson is given to all at the same time. This time with 2 teachers instead of one. Then the class is split into 2 or more groups according to “their abilities” (academic level). Forget “confidentiality”,  which is a joke anyway, as far as communities go, because everyone knows who can and who cannot “get it” in the academics kid world. So, this new set up can hide the weakness this program will create, is already creating.

An instructor of mine at the University I attended said this, I paraphrase. ” Every 20 years the system changes. First they had all of the special ed. kids in the same room. When the parents screamed about the hardships their kids were going through the system split them up into different rooms according to their abilities. Now, you watch..”, he said in 1995 as I sat listening in class. “You watch what will happen. They will put them all back into the one room again.” As he spoke, he placed one after another of those plastic transparency sheets on the overhead projector so fast no one could write the information down. His point was to simply show us the research already accumulated about this practice by that time. He had at least 30 of those sheets. I never forgot what he said. The shift didn’t start as soon as he said it would. it actually started five years later. But I saw him in a grocery store one day, knowing he retired, and I told him, “You were right. It’s happening now.” He smiled and nodded.

Another factor is this push for government control of the nation’s education system. It is another chapter following the fiasco of No Child Left Behind. This plan looks more innocent but the same “program” is  within the Core like jelly in a donut. State rights are being conned out of the public sector without any avenue for the public to fight for the protection of their statehood. State governments sell out their people for big piles of money to supposedly help the state in other ways. Governmental destitution and desperation override creativity and communication, as this wave of control freaks plug in their sales pitches to grab a whole side of the Monopoly Game neighborhood for long enough to drain more of the taxpayers money and local school districts money through forced purchase of those curriculum texts and new state tests.

The love, care and skill of real teachers and their administrators for their students, their schools and their communities will make them learn and guide others through this swamp. They know how to work through bad days and bad plans without giving up. They know how to handle sudden changes. Support your teachers. Ask what you can do to help all around. Be patient and also think about visiting your capitol leaders to encourage them to maintain state rights for their education.

The end.

If I start falling….. By David Reid Otey

If I start falling, don’t push me the rest of the way over the edge. Please grab my hand and pull me back into a balance, so I can have a chance to change my steps, my beliefs, my hurtful ways, my stupid and dangerous choices. I do not ask for codependency. I will not claim that you do not understand my pain and tortured thoughts.  I do not ask for entitlement. I will not claim to be so sick, stupid, ignorant, disabled or lazy that I won’t work to try pulling my own share of the weight in family and community.

I have already seen blind, crippled, maimed, diseased and severely burned people regain their lives independently to become a strong and proud part of their families and communities. They had the right to scream out, “You don’t understand” to many.  But they have the love and support of many by choosing to try, to give, to live among others instead of hiding away in a private world of pain. They allowed others to pull them up and forward and into a better place, better peace, better lives of greater joy and hope and success.

It is very hard sometimes to leave the mental room of self pity. There is a false significance, a twisted self-worship in pretending to be the most abused and misunderstood person in the world. There is no competition when hiding away from others. It is easy to make daily dark clouds of ”poor me” statements to sustain a personal package of pain and self-torture; to maintain a dreary, lost, hopeless, bottomless pit type of existence,  when being allowed to hide away from anyone who would tear it all down with talk of dreams, gifts, connections of love, personal growth and contribution.

I met a middle-aged lady outside a small town grocery store one chilly autumn day. She stood with her bicycle when I made the mistake of asking her, “How are you today?” She told of her leg pain. I tried consoling. She said no medicines work and no one cares. I offered ideas. She said she already tried every single one of them. She listed more complaints. I offered more compassion, nodding, saying more ideas. Soon I understood that her life will be a constant and consistent package of self-induced misery for all of her life because, for her, it is easier to feel important by spouting off how hard her life is rather then by making any effort to make it better. Sometimes laziness can become a disease. But it’s more than that. It’s a trained and conditioned helplessness. She pushes herself over the cliff every single day. Nothing will ever be good enough. No one will ever be able to do anything well enough for her. Yet she seemed genuinely unhappy, or maybe bragging about misery carries a perverted happiness of its own addiction. When I had enough of her glorifying tragedies to listen to I said, ” hope the day goes better for you”, and walked away.

The encounter led me to think about why I will never become like her. What is it that will protect me from sitting in self-pity beyond a heathy time frame ? The answer is my family and my friends. I have friends because I connected with those people through church,  through classes, through work, through creative events like open mic nights and through volunteering. I have a social job, teaching. I also extended my teaching to after school lessons for music and martial arts.  I believe in dreaming and forming the dreams into reality. I believe I have talents for a reason. Others have told me I am important to them when they said “thanks” for teaching their kids to be stronger. I felt empowered enough to begin a women’s self-defense class-Level one, as a contribution, to have in churches and social centers and for girl scouts. They said “thank you” for making their lives safer. I knew how to seek out the help I know I needed when life was changing, by talking to friends, by watching videos of speakers on youtube, by reading books by the speakers, by paying attention to the opportunities that appeared and by grasping them and working with them and becoming more of the dreams I want.

Life is action, creative action that leads to certainties mixed with unknown surprises and unknown results. A Successful and Happy Life is accepting two continuous constant facts:   1. You WILL make mistakes often and consistently, in differing areas at different times, because that is part of creating and personally growing in life.   2. You WILL survive the mistakes, learn from the mistakes, be stronger because of the mistakes, and be led by your corrections to becoming a better and more creative person.

There are two types of  “falling” : 1. The one where you missed a step, forgot a point, let go too soon, held on too long, forgot to stay in the kitchen when you cook, didn’t think before speaking or acting or temporarily forgot you are equal to almost everyone else.

2. The kind where you give up everything and everyone who loves you, who stood by you, who accepted you as you are–to think of only you and the misery you have, and to handle it all on your own in a pride seeking to prove yourself as a king or queen who needs no one for anything. You give it up  to be abused by your own self-world, one of a kind, not of this world, twistedly, pervertedly unique–because this disease of extreme loneliness makes you hate yourself as being not deserving of anyone else, but you want them all to see it because you really do need attention like the rest of us. You give up to be seen. You take yourself out of life to be missed.

If you can see that those actions are pleas for recognition, for validation that your humanness is needed as much as anyone is needed, that you are disconnecting instead of connecting, and that you need to give someone else a chance to hold you, to include you into their lives, to let them be blessed by who you are and what you have to offer to make this world, their world a much better and happier place, you can and will save yourself and save those who would be lost without you in their lives.

Every one of us has loving, good and creative value for others to grow in and with. We were made to be joiners to life, extenders of life’s creative possibilities. So, if you start to fall, fall into someone else instead of away from the world. Fall into arms that want to hold you, that WILL care for you and help you heal, who will give patience and peace. Fall into another chance. Fall into the risk of hope and maybe, instead of into despair and self-degradation. F.A.L.L.  Faith And Love Live.     The end for now.

Rub Down–A view of life actions. By David Reid Otey

One  summer afternoon I stood  washing cups, dishes, pots, pans, silverware and glasses, looking out the  window at the sunny, warm day, watching robins, finches, wind blown grass and waving tree branches. I smiled and had a thought-attack.  It started with a simple question: What am I really doing ? I was rubbing a soaped sponge inside, outside and along side each item in the sink. I use very hot running water, inspecting every speck of grime, food, spit, grease and stain to be erased with the help of  over head lights and  window light until satisfied it is disease-free, maintaining health for my family,  assuring everyone they sure won’t get sick from dishes I clean, that I care for their well being.

Then I thought, ” If this is such a noble thing I’m doing,  why have I  often felt like it’s a drudgery, like an insult to my station in life, an act that  made me feel angry at others: those who made more dirty dishes than me that I have to clean. Why do people argue about whose turn it is to wash ?   Why have I  rushed through washing a bowl and get mad when a piece of food is stuck to that bowl so that  I attack it,  splashing water all over everything,  frustrated that I can’t clean the bowl in  ten seconds, as though it were a state standard to prove intelligence.

I  realized that it really is sort of  a “beneath me” attitude that most of us respond with toward washing dishes,  cleaning the toilet, scooping the cat litter  box, lifting dog dumpings on a walk–not the stuff  people of class and wealth perform, but hire other people to do. Therefore, we do not like being our own hired help, so to speak. It’s a clash of self-image expectations. It came from conditioning, simply following the role models we had in our families: mom and dad, and even friends.

So, now, I wanted to change my mental perspective of this type of work to something positive. If I look at only the physical action of what I’m doing, apart from all of the ”added” perspectives, what I see is simply giving the items a ”rub down”.  It’s like a massage where you have someone rub down your central nervous system, rubbing out stress, bringing back the happy wonderful feeling of calm and peace. That human touch of healing, of giving, of sharing and caring for your emotional, spiritual, physical welfare.  Everything I do, everything I touch and everything I say has an effect, a result upon something or someone both directly and indirectly, especially upon myself.

The boy, Alladin,  rubbed a lamp to  make it shine,  and a Genie flowed out in a smokey cloud to take a solid form and tell the boy he could be granted three wishes. His action created an effect, an opportunity, an improvement, a hope.  Effort creates an opening to an unexpected opportunity.  Practicing guitar playing, for example, is an action of consistently rubbing the strings in patterns for melody and rhythm. The more frequently you do this, the more understanding, clear tones and perfect sound and timing you will gain, and that could lead to opportunities of making money through teaching and being in a band. Maybe it’s a crazy way to say it and see it. Rubbing the brain with thoughts and ideas from class room text books or from novels and newspapers. Rubbing the eyes with visions of colors and shapes and all sorts of art styles. Rubbing ears with speeches of great motivation, with stories of people who came through the toughest of times in life–such as incredible stories on the TED site.

If something or someone bothers us, they have rubbed us the wrong way. We can recognize that and straighten it out, somehow gaining an understanding as a rub down of sorts to bring ourselves back into alignment with peace and energy for the next step on the life journey.  There are far too many conditioned “downers” we switch our minds into playing out and shaping our days into a high percentage of depression. I think now of some of the news we see and hear daily. Why should I let a stranger’s life in the news affect me on the low depressing side of life. ? I can have an opinion without making myself sick or angry about whatever they did. I can pray for those who will be on the jury, for the lawyers, for the doctors, for everyone else directly involved in the decision making part of that story for that person. Some in my family let news rub them the wrong way. A famous person gets acquitted. They yell at the television. Sure, I agree it’s wrong in my opinion and according to my beliefs. But I’m not there. I have nothing to do with it. I cannot make a difference in that stranger’s life. So, I’ll rub all of my physical, emotional and spiritual energies onto and with the people and work I can affect where I live, where I am directly affected by those who share their energies with me. I’ll spend my time trying to make my home, town, city, wide spread area stronger, happier, safer, more productive. I think now that I really cannot afford to waste my time on unrelated lives and events elsewhere when I can easily do thinking and planning for where I am and toward what I want to do and become.

I rub away the dirt and grime off the plates with a tool that cleans. I rub away the weeds from my thoughts with tools that clear: great speeches, great stories, encouraging life coaches, volunteering, creating and planning times with family for fun things at fun places to empower dreaming and hopes that make a positive difference for all lives.     The End for now.

Life In Numbers. By David Reid Otey

I go to dreamland at 11 pm on my sleep number bed set for 5, unconscious for 7 hours, peek at the world at 6 am, use 3 gallons of water for flushing, bathing, cooking and drinking. I pull on my size 36/32 pants, size 15 shirt and size 9 1/2 shoes. I walk down 4 steps into the garage and stroll 15 feet to my 1995 Buick with 230,000 miles on it. I drive 27 miles one way to work, reading  25mph, 45mph and 60mph speed limit signs and license plate letters and numbers LV 0065H. I consistently notice my mph numbers between25- 65 and mentally work through my daily mental drills of 8 multiple intelligences, 5 love languages, 5  master evaluation steps and more numbered sections. I think of the 20 dollars camping as supply money in my wallet until pay day.

I walk into work at the grade school, instantly joining a herd of 300 plus children who roam through four hallways and occupy 15 class rooms during the day. In my class room I consistently look at the clock numbers, to make sure my multi-grade level special education students go where they need to be and on time for music, art, pe, lunch and therapies, as well as when to start and stop my own lessons. I teach math: counting, time and money, the four basic operations, order, sequence and fractions. When grading math, I’m calculating to check and correct, sometimes punching the tiny numbers on my cell phone calculator to speed things up and always to get the correct percentage. When the hour number for snack time arrives,  I divide the choice of energy-fix ( cookies, raisins, apples, oranges) per child.

In the grocery store on the way home I look at the printed dollar and cent numbers of what I need, tally my bill before I get to check-out, watch the digital numbers pop up on the screen, and I watch myself hand over a 10 and a 5 and a 3 dollars more. I carry my 13 pounds of groceries to my 1,850 pound car. I sit my 145 pound body onto the 5 1/2 feet long front seat, start the 285. 6 cylinder engine and turn the 10 inch steering wheel back and forth once in a while to take the right roads home. For my enjoyment at home I play guitar and I use numbers on guitar tabs for playing. When I exercise I use numbers to be sure I work out long enough.

I’ve asked my students a few times, “why do we use numbers?” It takes them awhile. I usually have to narrow the question to “where do you see numbers that you know of ?”   They come up with the street signs, the phone, the clocks, money and math papers.  We add addresses, thermometers, clothes sizes, food amounts in pounds and ounces,  measures of sound (decibels),  sizes and food portions for their school lunches. After twenty minutes it always feels overwhelming just how much we need numbers in our lives, to calculate for our health and wealth and welfare. Numbers give us a sense of control, a way to think ahead, to prepare, to know how long for any type of change–in seasons,  in healing, in anticipating and planning strategies,  a visually objective certainty of major differences and powers involved in our lives. Numbers are identifiers, locators, descriptors, determiners, advisors, judges, qualifiers and always have the final say in who wins, right or wrong.

Well, it’s time for me to go now. I say that only with regard to this writing, but someday I will have to say it with regard to being unable to wake for another day. I will be 60 years old soon. That’s not old. That’s perseverance and love of life. So far, all of my numbers, including my IQ, have been fairly decent. They seem to be vastly improving, too. Or is that an illusion ? I wish my mom and dad had lived longer numbers, but I also calculate they had some very bad habits in their youth that may have caused a diminishing of the possible number length.  I didn’t have the same bad habits, so maybe I will see a much longer number.   The end of this number of words.