I Might Be Crazy…

ARRGH!Every so often I find myself in a position where I ask myself, “Why did I do that, am I crazy?” While you may not be interested in my mental health, if you’re on the site looking for something, you might find things a bit out of whack. Let me explain. (The good news is, I can explain–so I’m not irrational. At least at the moment.)

My two primary sites are currently undergoing significant changes. This Brain Leaks and Musings site is in the process of being migrated to a different server. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that migration means lots of updating and changes are required because not everything migrates. I’m discovering lots of opportunities (not using the word “problems”) for change. Some will improve the visitor’s experience, some will make my job easier. All will take some time. So, in short, if you can’t find something on the site or find something broken, please let me know.

The reason I might be crazy is that I selected absolutely the worst month of the year to undertake this. This is the month when fall courses must be scheduled and planned. It’s also historically the month I do much of my course development and improvement work. Taking on an additional project of this magnitude might be crazy, right?

In an interesting way, the decision to do this at such a “crazy” time is linked to mental health. As most will know, I teach a number of subjects in addition to real estate and, in my spare time work with kids. Several years ago I became a NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) certified mental health specialist for youth and adults. Since I am also gatekeeper trained, I began offering a suicide awareness and prevention course. Suicide is a serious public health concern. Maine is not an exception. Our state averages 196 deaths by suicide each year; in 2009 alone, 2,800 high school students and 4,000 adults attempted suicide while 6,700 high school students and 27,000 adults considered suicide.

In part because of this, a law was passed several years ago that request anyone receiving a paycheck from a Maine Public School system to complete this research-based course. Since I also teach a substitute teacher’s course, it made sense for me to offer the required Suicide Awareness Course through several adult education programs where I teach the Substitute Teacher’s Course.

This year one of those adult education programs opted not to offer the program and I needed to find a different venue. In that I have succeeded– and I’m really excited about the possibilities it will create. However, since the courses I’ll be offering at that venue will be sponsored by my company, Abbot Village Press. That means I will be handling the course administration responsibilities usually handled by the course “provider.”

So I need to develop an “online” system that will allow students to register for those courses. I’m working on it. But in the interim things might look a little messy and confusing. One of my many goals is to avoid creating confusion. So bear with me… and if you have any questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Substitute Teacher Classes Announced

classroom-658002_1280This fun one-day program is designed  to prepare people interested in serving as a substitute teacher or ed tech.  There will be plenty of “hands on learning” that will include important classroom management techniques and teaching strategies. We’ll also cover some legal aspects and help you develop your own “sub pack” of resources and an action plan that will get you started on the right foot! If you’ve been subbing, this is a great opportunity for a “refresher” and some new ideas. Attendees will earn a certificate recognized by many local districts. One student comments, “…very engaging with a lot of real life scenarios. I came away with new information even after subbing for a year.” The program is taught by Walter Boomsma, an experienced substitute teacher and adult educator.

There are currently two opportunities to learn scheduled:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

RSU 19 Adult Education
Nokomis High School, Newport
Call 368-3290 or visit http://rsu19.maineadulted.org/

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative
Penquis Higher Education Center, Dover-Foxcroft
Call 564-6525 or visit http://pvaec.maineadulted.org/

Both courses are likely to fill up quickly… reserve your spot early!

Paying It Backward, part two

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“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”   (Robert Schuller)

When I wrote Paying It Backward , I’m not sure I really expected some of the results I’ve experienced. Of course my hope was two-fold. First, I hoped that some descendants of a man who greatly impacted my life would know about it. Second, I wished that the story might inspire readers to consider how small actions can have big impacts.

I’m happy to report that I’ve heard from my bus driver friend’s son and some grandchildren and great-grandchildren! I’ve learned that Otis was born in 1899 in New Hampshire and moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1924. He operated trolley cars long before driving busses. It has been great fun to compare impressions and memories of him. The word “kindly” seems to be used often.

It seemed a bit odd to learn that Otis’s son is now 84 years old! Time does march on, I guess. And even stranger to realize that if he was still alive, Otis would now be 117.

One result of  writing about the experience I didn’t expect is that the “Otis story” would become the apex of a presentation I would develop entitled, “Finding Dead Rainbows–where you stand makes a difference.” Initially, I was thinking that finding hope is often a matter of perspective–where we stand can make a difference in what we see. It was later that I realized Otis not only rescued me by letting me stand in front of the line; he also gave me hope.

Offering hope need not be complicated. I recently taught a class of adults and discovered one student who was my rainbow. Every time I looked her way, she was looking at me with a slight smile, clearly engaged and enjoying the learning experience. Anyone who has taught or spoke to groups knows how easy it is to focus on the person who has dozed off or is clearly not paying attention. But who can resist a rainbow?

After once telling the Otis story in a presentation, one listener approached me, admitting he almost cried. “Do you realize how different your life might have been if it were not for Otis?” he asked. I thought I did until he speculated, “You might have become a very different person… or in jail or maybe even dead.” My first reaction was that he was being a bit dramatic, but later I thought perhaps not.

A bully hurts. A bus driver helps. A smile makes a difference. We can decide what shapes our future. We can also help shape the future of others.

Thanks again, Otis.

A Few Course Updates…

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Spring’s just started, but the learning opportunities continue!

I’ve conducted my newest course offering on Suicide Awareness and Prevention twice and the results have been rewarding and exciting! Not only have educational professionals attended, but students have included church employees, agency employees, and several who simply wanted the information for their own use—one attendee came all the way from Hermon!

My ego enjoys the ratings of the instructor and positive comments, but there are a couple of observations that are far more important. As a result of attending these two classes:

  • 85% of participants either agreed or strongly agreed they feel more comfortable talking about suicide.
  • 93% of participants either agreed or strongly agreed they feel more confident in their ability to recognize suicide warning signs and risk factors.
  • 85% of participants feel better equipped to help someone who might seem suicidal.

Currently, there are two more classes scheduled:

  1. Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at the Penquis Higher Education Center in Dover Foxcroft, sponsored by PVAEC, 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Call 564-6525 for information and to register.
  2. Thursday, April 14, 2016 at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, sponsored by RSU 19 Adult Education, 3:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Call 368-3290 for information and to register.

As promised in the classes already taught, I’ve started a website page of resources for developing good mental health and preventing suicide.

April is a busy month with Real Estate Classes–both licensing and continuing education. You can find a complete calendar on my real estate blog.

Due to increasing requests for learning opportunities, RSU 19 Adult Education is adding a second wave of classes in late spring and this summer this year. By request, I’ll be developing and offering an overview course, The Why’s and Where’s of Blogging The course is scheduled for Thursday, May 19 at Nokomis High school in Newport. We’ll also be offering the Substitute Teacher Course late in the summer.

The best way to avoid missing an opportunity is to sign up for the Learning Opportunities Newsletter. Since I know how annoying a flood of email can be, you’ll only hear from me about once a month at the most!

If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.

I’ll text you…

cell phoneLike it or not, texting has become a huge part of many people’s lives. At least one estimate I saw recently suggested that the average high school student sends about 300 texts in the course of a day! While some of us haven’t adjusted to this way of communicating, it is growing by leaps and bounds. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover an amazing person and an amazing resource that’s all about texting. The amazing person is Nancy Lubin. The amazing resource is the Crisis Text Line.

There are some similarities to the traditional Crisis Phone Lines, but there are also some amazing differences. The program has already handled nearly ten million text messages ranging from addiction to sexual abuse to suicidal thoughts. Anyone can send the simple message “go” (or “Hello” or “start”) to 741-741. It’s confidential, anonymous, and free. An automated response will ask about the crisis… and here’s where this gets really amazing. Thanks to data and algorithms, the response  to the question will ensure that the text goes to a counselor trained to handle that specific type of crisis.

I discovered the Crisis Text Line while preparing for the upcoming classes I’ll be teaching. I also just learned that an agency in the area is sending some of their employees to one of those Suicide Awareness Classes and that’s encouraging! These classes are not just for school employees, nor do they demand or expect more than you can give. Just helping make information like the crisis text line available can be effect support to someone who’s troubled. (Information will be distributed during the class, but you can also access it at http://www.crisistextline.org/. There’s even a flyer you can post with the number to text as a tear off portion.)

Someone who may not want to talk may be very willing to text. Let’s get this number out and available: 741-741.

You can learn more about this incredible program and the woman who started it by watching her ten minute TED Talk. I’m comfortable guaranteeing you’ll be impressed!

Hotline Numbers

Crisis Text Line: 741-741

Suicide Prevention… an awareness session focused on youth!

Yes, this is about suicide prevention… but it’s also about mental health! Learn some of the signs that a person is troubled and how you can make a difference. You’ll also receive resources available and materials produced by the Maine Suicide Prevention Program. (Click the image to see a larger size.)

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Dead Rainbows?

RainbowsI’m honored to have been invited to speak at two Kiwanis Club Meetings in February: Orno on the sixteenth and Dover Foxcroft on the twenty-third. Since both invitations offered a fair amount of latitude regarding my topic, I decided to come up with something new!

Finding Dead Rainbows – where you stand makes a difference will be both thought-provoking and fun. Rainbows are about hope and promise. Where we find rainbows has a lot to do with where we look. And where we look has a lot to do with where we stand.

“The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.”

Walter Boomsma (“Mr. Boomsma”) writes on a wide array of topics including personal development, teaching and learning. Course information is also available here!