Highlights of 2007: Part 1

Click here to see Highlights of 2007: Part 2

January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

Welcome to my blog, year #10!! I’ve been off for a few weeks and thoroughly enjoying being home for this stretch.

Here in New Mexico, we are up to are ears in snow! In the 26 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen anything like this, even when I was traveling to teach up in the mountains north of here. Parts of the city got two feet of snow. We got slightly less but were still pretty much stuck, as the neighborhood streets were a mess and very hard to navigate, even if you could get your car out of the driveway.

Normally I’d be delighted to have a few days with no appointments or running around, but instead of using the time to really get things done here, I started feeling a bit of cabin fever. Spent most of the past few days pretty unfocused, sleeping weird hours—almost every night up for several hours around 3 or 4, and then falling back to sleep again. Not sure what that’s about but I’m attributing everything weird to the holidays and hoping to get back on a more normal schedule now that they are offically done!

What’s Happening with 21st Century Discipline?

I closed out last year’s blog with the same information I summarize here below. As I mentioned, this has been so hard to write about, and is so convoluted and nasty, that I decided to create a separate page to keep folks updated specifically on what’s going on with this book, and when—and if—a third edition will be available.

I’m not sure, from a legal standpoint, how much I can share, but I do believe that as long as the information is factually accurate, there is no reason I can’t answer this question.

The bottom line is that School Specialty, the publishers who bought the company that brought this book out (and also Being a Successful Teacher) is refusing to revert rights back to me. This in spite of the fact that they put both of these books out of print almost as soon as they acquired them, and (to the best of my knowledge) before they sold a single copy of either one. In addition, they have expressed no interest in the book or in me, and in fact had no idea who I was when I finally got them to respond to my requests for a termination agreement.

Yes, that’s right: They don’t want this book, but they don’t want anybody else to have it either.

The update page will contain additional details, progress, and comments about my feelings about all this. In the meantime, I still have copies of the second (“discontinued”) version of the book available and promise to keep site visitors informed of progress on this book.

So let’s review resolutions and plans…

Some of these go back to 2005. Let’s see how much progress I actually made.

Seeking balance and moderation in my life

I see this particular point as one of continual challenge in my life. It has helped that I took off time over the holidays and cut back on my speaking commitments. I followed through on my commitment to take Fridays off whenever I could and managed a good bit of play and fun in my life. Still—and this may be more a matter of timing than anything else—this particular holiday season has offered more than its fair share of sugar and my fitness ambitions seem to have totally gone to hell. But hey, it’s a new year…

Clear out the rest of the closeout inventory.

Done!

Create new products.

The Book of Article Reprints is out, and even better than I originally intended. (In addition to all the articles available individually, I found several articles I had forgotten I had written. I updated a few and included them all in this book.) The cover includes a composite of pictures I’ve taken of kids around the world.

In the coming year, I am still hoping to bring out my Teacher Tapes on CD, bring out the CDs for counselors, and put a number of our products (“Pads” on the Back, TeacherSaver Memo Pads and the article, “Positively Positive,” among other things) on a CD as well.

I’m also starting to cook a few ideas for what will hopefully be the next incarnation of Being a Successful Teacher but that’s a ways down the road and will depend, to some extent, on what happens with the publisher I’m dealing with. (See my update on a future edition of 21st Century Discipline.)

Maintain and develop the Web site for High School’s Not Forever

Continual progress, in part due to some wonderful contributions from kids. Click here to visit the site.

Set up a shopping cart on this site

I started, messed something up in the code for the shipping and can’t untangle it. Never got to it in 06 but maybe this year…

Create an account with Pay Pal

Not yet.

Create a link with Amazon.com. Maybe…

Still a maybe.

Create a data base and site map for this site

This site has so much information on it, on one hand, a data base would really help. On the other, every time I’ve tried to lay out this site, I get really bogged down. Still a possibility, perhaps for some time when I actually would have the time to explore this. In the meantime, I did develop two different site maps, one listed by topic, another listed alphabetically.

Clean out my office files, my garage, my studio

Ongoing. Major cleaning in the studio and office, also my closets, my kitchen, and other parts of the house.

Get my studio files up on this site

I’ve started working on the graphics but have nothing to share yet.

Keep walking (I love shooting for 10K steps a day!) and avoid eating stupid when I’m on the road

On and off. This is a bad week to ask about this.

Enhance and improve the Links section of this site

Ongoing, but BIG progress here.

Actually set up the idea sharing sections in our various Forums

Resources are in the piles in these boxes so maybe this year.

Write more articles

No time. Really. But… I recently got a question from a parent via email that inspired me to start thinking about doing something on encouragement and reinforcement. Stay tuned…

Revisit the possibility of revising Parents in a Pressure Cooker

Very far down my priority list but not off the table.

Create a place for visitors to this site to sign up for notification of new products, for example, or a newsletter, perhaps one day

Not yet. It’s a data base thing to which I’m still looking forward.

Clear out the clutter I threw into boxes and crates a few months ago when I “cleaned” my office. This means a lot of filing, sorting, tossing, stuff I really hate doing.

I’m actually working on this now. It sucks.

Get new business cards printed.

Did it. I had to get my friend Laura to help me, but they came out great.

Work on marketing the High School book.

All my books need a lot more marketing than they get. I have sent copies out, did a few book signings, wrote a few letters, but it’s sort of felt like pouring time and money into a black hole. I’m not giving up, but this is one of the least satisfying and fun things on this list. I may well look into hiring a publicist and have at least one contact worth exploring.

Create a search function for this site, which takes me back to a data base or at least a site map.

The site maps (topical, alphabetical) are set up and functional. I would like a search function at some point, but this is a nice bridge to help people find stuff on the site for now. (2013 Note: It’s fascinating how many of these goals were accomplished once I set up this site with WordPress nearly 6 years later!)

Father Sky Studios: the Web pages.

I started working on the graphics to set up the pages. I’ll work on it as I can. I haven’t had as much time to do crafts but I have a number of projects I finished that I’d like to get up to share.

Handouts and articles in French.

I now have 12 pages in French and the same pages in Spanish.

For 2007…

    • My main priority, work-wise, is bringing a new version of 21st Century Discipline into being. The book is written, reviewed, edited and ready to go to press. If it means changing the layout, the title or the format, it will happen. (2013 Note: It did happen. It was messy, but this is where The Win-Win Classroom came from!)
    • Continuing to block off two months at the end of the year to rest and recharge.
    • More order, less chaos.
    • More focus on creative outlets. Complete projects I’ve started.
    • More visibility, greater impact; more efficient use of my time, talents and energy.
    • Better body stuff.
    • Learn new computer stuff.

There’s probably more, and I’ll share whatever ideas come up. Right now, I’m just working on stuff in front of me and trying to get unstuck. I might actually get an idea or inspiration or something worth writing about once I get past where I’m at right now.

Jan. 27, 2007

Wonderful Break!

Other than a week in Hawaii in December, I have been home for the past two months. It has been one of the best breaks I’ve ever had, and very badly needed. I often can’t appreciate just how exhausted and burned out I get being on the road and presenting. I wish it didn’t take as much out of me as it does, but I really needed this time to recharge and am grateful to have been able to do so.

Last year, I took time off from the road, but ended up spending the entire two month period writing. I decided to do it right this time, and although I did spend some time in the office (I had contracts, handouts, and travel arrangements for upcoming jobs, and I did make a small dent in the papers and clutter), it was really quite limited.

And I did work on this site quite a bit, though most of my time was devoted to structural and organizational bits (like refining the site maps and the directories for the articles and handouts and separating my blogs from my professional biographical information), and adding a bunch of pages to the humor and “fun stuff” section, things I never have time for otherwise. I also posted links to podcasts and presentations I’ve done that you can listen to or view online.

Perhaps the biggest break has been emotional (with heavy psychological and spiritual aspects to it). Even with the issues around 21st Century Discipline still being messy and unresolved (see update), I have, for the most part, been pretty disengaged during most of this time. While I’m looking forward to having a new editor assigned, and to finding out how Corwin plans to bring out this book, I’ve been more detached— and more willing to trust that this is, even now, in the process of working out— than I ever would have imagined possible.

The occasional voices of panic or anger aren’t mine, and I’ve been pretty good at blowing them off when they start up. (I have worried about whether or not I’m actually treading into denial territory but frankly, I don’t care.) This just will work out, though clearly not on my schedule. I have a feeling this limbo is going to break soon, though, so as always, stay tuned…

Play Time!

It has been so good to be home. I have been very aware of how much I enjoy just being here, in this space, and spending time with Jerry and Shadow.

I spent a great deal of time socializing and entertaining. I had a lot of people over at various time during the holidays in particular, and loved the time I could devote to meeting friends for lunch or hanging out at the cafe in Borders after running into a friend there.

I also spent a lot more time than I’ve had in years working in my studio and on various crafts projects. Nothing really challenging, but it was very satisfying to finish a couple bracelets, a beaded pouch, about a dozen knitted scarves (many of which became holiday presents) during the past few weeks.

Laura and I took a knitting class and I’ve been feeling inspired to challenge myself with some new techniques, different types of projects, things I’ve never attempted in the 45+ years I’ve been knitting.

I’ve had a couple of “play dates” in the past few weeks with friends Laura and Linda, both brilliant crafters in a variety of media. I’d been struggling with a beaded crochet project I couldn’t get started right and discovered that Linda had finished several, so we started with her showing me how it was done and then started working with polymer clay after that and in subsequent get-togethers.

(Note: It has been so nice being with others with “Artist’s ADD”, people who are interested in different media and like to jump from project to project! Made me feel a whole lot less crazy and, frankly, quite inspired!)

It has been so deeply soul-satisfying to just have my hands in this stuff, and working together has given me the idea of sharing this space more often (possibly even commercially at some point). I love having the energy and creativity of other crafters in this room, and have really come to appreciate how important this part of my life is.

I haven’t gotten back to the beaded crochet activity, but do have a better sense of what I need to do that I couldn’t get from the 2-dimensional instructions, now that I’ve actually seen Linda’s hands doing it right! (I love how I continue to learn about myself as a learner, and how this all ties in with how we explain and show things to kids!)

I’m also getting antsy to put up the Father Sky Studios portion of this site. Although it has nothing to do with my teaching-work life, it has, at the same time, everything to do with it. (And it will be separate enough from the main site that unless you’re specifically looking for it, or come across links on these pages, it won’t be much of a presence for those looking for reference material for educators or counselors or parents, for example.)

I don’t believe the professional essence of this site needs to be compromised, and at some point, the non-educational sections may end up with their own unique domain name, but in the meantime, I intend to utilize this site to express what is most important and meaningful to me. And there is no question that what I do here, in this very tactile, three-dimensional world, helps me be better in the work I do in other areas of my life.

Going Back Out on the Road

Mixed feelings. Yes, I’m ready. Sort of. I’m more conflicted about leaving home, Jerry, Shadow, the studio, and the very unstructured days I’ve had the luxury of enjoying. I did notice that any time I did an interview or roundtable over the break (and I did several, including two podcasts you can link to from this site), that I still get extremely excited about the work I do.

I still feel, quite clearly, that this is what I’m meant to do (and what I’m meant to be doing right now), and am very grateful about having a number of wonderful opportunities to do it. It’s hard to get excited about the realities involved in living out of a suitcase or dealing with a string of airports and hotels, for example. But in a lot of ways, I am, mentally and emotionally, in the best space I’ve been in in years and know from past experience that once I’m up in front of my first group on Monday in Louisville, it’ll just start happening again.

I have one more day at home and, as usual, about a week’s worth of stuff to do before I go. And since I’ve only had about two hours of sleep so far tonight (even at home, this is still a problem), I’m gonna go try to catch a few more z’s before I start this day.

March 5 , 2007

Hello from Atlanta!

What a crazy week! By the time I get home tonight, I will have covered 10,000 miles in the past 9 days. The biggest challenge was managing a jog over to Honolulu between my presentation in Long Beach on Thursday and this program today. Lots of crazy details to negotiate, a complicated flight home (two different airlines and overlapping tickets), sorting out my bags, one of which I had to actually ship home because I couldn’t check bags on the flights out here, and many many hours between my 4:30 wakeup call and when I crawled into bed at this hotel late Saturday night.

It all worked out, much better than it could have, in fact. And I ended up having a day off yesterday. (I was supposed to have flown home on Saturday but couldn’t get a flight out to Atlanta on Sunday for less that $1250, so I ended up switching in LA to a direct flight out here.) I slept until almost 11:00 and barely got out of bed all day. I watched three different movies and called home a couple of times, but that was the extent of my accomplishments for the day. I wasn’t even focused enough to knit…

It’t been a fantastic week. I’ve had great audiences all week, stayed in really nice hotels (some great beds and some wonderful sleep!) so no complaints. Still, I’ve been moving around a lot and covering a lot of ground. I’m really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight.

Not much else going on…

I’ve been traveling or at home, alternately sick with a variety of weird stuff (colds, flu, sinus infections) that Jerry and I have been trading back and forth. Most of my concerns have been logistical ones (as above) and just sustaining the energy to do these presentations coherently and enthusiastically.

My other concern has involved the agreements involved in publishing what started a year or two ago as the third edition of 21st Century Discipline and which will now be released sometime this fall as The Win-Win Classroom. Details about this process are on the update page. I have not yet started the revisions that will make this release possible, but that is clearly the next priority for me.

So there hasn’t been much to report otherwise, which is why I haven’t bothered to update this page. But I did just want to say hi again!

April 30 , 2007

Too much fun on the road

I’m in San Diego. I’ve been home for about 48 hours in the past 17 days. Considering the fact that I leave for three weeks in Europe on the 9th (Danube cruise with my mom), I’m definitely feeling more homesick than normal.

But sometimes opportunities sneak up on an already-crowded schedule and sometimes the guidance says, “Go for it.”

This run started on Long Island on Friday, April 13th. Although I had another job in Newark the following Monday, I tried getting home for the weekend but was unable to make a decent connection. I took advantage of the proximity to visit a cousin on that Saturday (my birthday).

I hadn’t seen her in nearly 20 years and it felt really important for us to reconnect. I had a lovely time seeing her and getting turned onto her latest passion— scrapbooking— particularly in the areas that the tools and materials overlap things I do.

The rest of that week involved a full day of work, a drive to the next city, and dinner with friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades, some of whom go back to kindergarten with me. I spent the weekend with a former college roommate and another friend, the first time the three of us had been together since 1973 or 1974.

The up side, of course, was reconnecting with everyone, and how powerful the sense of community and connection was, how strong these tapestry “threads,” despite the changes in our lives and the passage of time. The downside is the fact that I had no recharge time. Even on the nights I wasn’t sitting up talking until three in the morning, I’d be waking up to work or travel (or both) a little more depleted each day.

Today, I slept until 11, and probably would’ve slept later had my hotel phone not rung, other friends ready to pick me up for lunch. When I got back to the hotel, I never actually got off the bed. I’m basically staying over an extra day and a half for a 5-minute television interview tomorrow morning.

June 3, 2007

Too much time on the road!

I’m in Huntsville, Alabama. I’ve been home for about 48 hours in the past 26 days. I’ve been in 4 time zones, 8 hours apart, in the last week. I can’t seem to stay awake past 9 p.m. and keep waking up around 2 or 3 in the morning.

I have two more jobs left on this run— one day here tomorrow and then two days in Columbus, GA, with a long drive down there from here in between. (I used to love driving and road trips and have lately found them pretty tedious and exhausting, although that could be more about where I am in general.) I looked into flying this round of seminars and it turns out I can go to back to Europe for less, and that’s first class!

When I get home on Thursday night, it will be for most of the next two months. That I am actually looing forward to having time to clean out files and closets says something kind of pathetic to me! And yes, barring some immediate billing and paperwork, I do plan to take off several days and not go anywhere near my desk.

A Wonderful Danube Cruise

Part of this time away was spent on a really fantastic vacation with my mom. I flew to her place in Florida on the 9th and the following day we flew together to Budapest. I’d never been to Hungary and was very excited about this trip, despite being away from home for 3 weeks.

One of the very first thing we did was take a taxi to a bookstore in Buda (from our hotel in Pest) to pick up a copy of one of my books, Daily Riches, which has been out in Hungarian for a couple of years. As I understand it, this is a bootleg copy, according to my publisher, which means that the publisher in Hungary never actually contracted for the rights to bring this book out. This may be why the Hungarian publisher has been so cagey about responding to my efforts to contact them, set up a book signing or visit while I was over there, or even about giving me the information I needed to buy a copy from them directly. Although that’s certainly a cheesy thing to do, not to mention completely illegal and karmically tacky, at this point, I just wanted to buy a copy for my library. Which I now I have.

The book is possibly the prettiest copy of any book with my name on it to date, with a hard cover, full-color paintings between chapters, and beautiful layout. I offered to autograph the three other copies they had on hand, and was a bit amused when they looked at me as if I had offered to toss the books in the toilet. Evidently this is NOT a custom in Hungary, or perhaps they didn’t quite understand that I was actually one of the authors. Weird.

Vacation Blog not Forthcoming

I had intended to blog the trip but simply never had time. This isn’t easy to do on any trip— between downloading the photos from the camera, selecting and resizing shots to include in the blog, and finding the time, physical energy, and mental space to detail the events of the day, it can be really hard to keep up!

For some reason, this trip seemed to be even more jam-packed than normal and I rarely seemed to have much time to myself that I wasn’t sleeping, so it was easy to get farther and farther behind. In addition, I was off-line for the whole time we were on the boat, which also kind of killed my motivation.

BUT… I have selected a few photos from each country we visited and you can see them on my photo pages on my .Mac pages.  You can check out where we went and what we saw in Hungary and Slovakia, Austria, Germany and in Prague (pretty much the only place we went in the Czech Republic). You can click on the thumbnails to enlarge individual photos or click on the icon to run the slide show, advancing each one by clicking on the arrows that appear on the lower right-hand corner. You can also send me a note letting me know what you think. (2013 Note: These pages no longer exist and I have not yet recreated them.)

A Note about Being Off-Line for 10 Days…

One of the reasons I got the phone I did (notes on that little fiasco below) was because I knew I would not be able to get online once we boarded the ship. When I got to Europe, I discovered that the email and browsing features my phone was ABSOLUTELY supposed to be able to do simply didn’t work, so I ended up not even being able to check email or browse for more information about a place we were aboout to visit, for example, for that entire time! (And with international roaming charges at $1-$2 a minute, not to mention the 8-hour time difference, it wasn’t always convenient to call Jerry and have him read emails or look something up for me.)

I’m a little concerned at the actual WITHDRAWAL I experienced over there. At one point, our ship was tied up next to several others and while I was downloading the pictures from the day, I started picking up a wireless signal from one of the other ships. (We didn’t even have a computer on board to look stuff up online. They had a laptop from which you could send or receive emails at $3 a pop but no browsing capability!)

I actually boarded the other ship and tried to beg the reception people there to BUY a password for a couple of hours. No go. I swear, I felt the irritability and desperation I’ve felt coming off stuff like nicotine. Kind of creepy.

Although I talked to Jerry every day and was able to stay on top of things that came up for business, I just felt so disconnected from the world, and frustrated by my lack of connection to information I usually have at my fingetips.

Phone Tech Blues

Well before I left for this trip, I spent two weeks trying to get a phone that would work in Europe. I spoke to three different sales people at AT&T, asking for a recommendation for a phone that would be able to call (and receive calls from) the States and, as important, also be able to send and receive email. All three people recommended a particular phone and right after I ordered it, I happened to call International tech support and discovered that the phone wouldn’t actually work overseas.

It took a couple of days to sort that all out, and I’m talking 3- and 4-hour phone calls to secondary sales. Why bother? Well my rationale was that I wanted to set up an account that I could eventually transfer to a new iPhone, which is supposed to be out later this month.

So I finally got this phone that seemed to work fine until I got to Europe, where I simply could not get online. My third call to a tier-3 tech support guy determined, after yet another hour on a help call, that maybe it wasn’t the tower (as this was the 10th city in which I tried to get online with a very strong signal), so “there must be something wrong with the phone.”

Dealing with this company was the single most stressful part of the entire trip, and the first thing I did when I got back home was to call and cancel my account. Even that process was aggravating! The guy kept insisting that I just needed to take the phone back to the nearest AT&T store and they’d find it on their computer, and that I wouldn’t need a cancelation number or documentation. (He also wouldn’t give me an address to mail it back.) Of course, when I got to the store, they refused to take the phone back because I hadn’t bought it there. Grrrr…

The fact that (currently) AT&T is the ONLY place you can set up an iPhone account really does not bode well for the possibility of my upgrading, much as I’ve been salivating for this product. One thing that might make a difference will be if I can actually buy the phone and set up the account directly through Apple and deal with them when I have a problem. (Years ago, I dropped AT&T after similar frustration with inept, unintelligible, and inaccessibile support personnel. This may explain some of the problems I had this past month).

I don’t like being lied to, and as nice as some of the people I spoke with were, as as helpful as some tried to be (although this was not always the case), the degree to which the people I dealt with, both in sales and support, did not know their merchandise or just told me what they thought I wanted to hear makes me VERY reluctant to work with them. For ANY reason or product.

I may change my mind once I get an actual iPhone in my hot little hands, but for now, my little, old-fashioned Verizon phone is working just fine for my purposes.

There’s No Place Like Home…

I’m watching the end of one of my absolute favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz, for the zillionth time.

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