Category Archives: Causes and Friends

Posts regarding causes–mine and those of some friends.

Few Are Free…

What follows is the work of friend and colleague Jack Falvey–who many will recognize as the author of the “blurb” on the back cover of my book, Small People–Big Brains. Jack’s authoring this online investor program for Saint Anselm College… a free daily investor brief. See the bottom for additional information… try ‘em! The price is right and I think you’ll enjoy Jack’s style. As a bonus you’ll learn a lot! Subscribe here.


The best things in life are priceless. Few are free!

There is a balance to the universe that theoretical physicists attempt to codify as a theory of everything. They may be in a bit over their heads, but they are far enough along in their quest to indicate that actions have consequences and, while sometimes difficult to see at first glance, that there is an order to things which may appear to be unconnected or random.

As we seek financial stability in our economic lives, it becomes obvious that our efforts are somehow related to our results. We do not have to study physics to see cause-and-effect relationships between hard work and return on that investment. We know that goals and focus pay off. We accept the discipline of economic life without fully understanding everything involved.

There are, however, other aspects of our lives that produce a different kind of return on investment. Our challenge is to attempt to gain the rewards of economic prosperity at a price that does not blot out the sunshine of a healthy existence.

Our culture dictates that we divide our lives chronologically into play, education and work. It has been suggested that things may work better by mixing all three all the time. Our income producing years do require focus and dedication, but the priceless parts of life should not be the price we pay for financial progress and security, such as it is. We mix play and learning naturally as children. Education leads us to our work life. Those who learn to work hard at continuing to mix the three aspects of life seem to do better at all three. Intellectual curiosity should always be with us. Physical health does not require organized athletics, but it does require dedicated time and some discipline. Work discipline is better defined as knowing how to stop! So financial planning requires life planning. See if you can get all the aspects of life working together. Perfect balance is not the objective. Try for the mix. That’s a reasonable goal.

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Investor Education Briefs is an online investor education program provided by the Institute for Politics at Saint Anselm College. It goes out each business day of the year at no charge. The editorial opinions of Jack Falvey, a Fellow of the Institute and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, are provided for investor education only and are not offered as financial advice. Anyone may enter or exit the program at any time. There are no tests or academic credits involved. It is designed as a free program which will recycle and be updated every twelve months. Subscribe here.

“Yesterday…”

handprintsI’ve never been a big fan of the lyrics to the Beatles’ tune even though I enjoy the melody. “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away… now it looks as though they’re here to stay… I believe in yesterday.”

No thanks, I prefer to live in the present.

But there was a yesterday and my yesterday was one of the more interesting ones I’ve had in some time. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a lot of detail. Suffice it to say it was one of the more difficult days I’ve had a substitute elementary school teacher. At one point, I caught one of the kids doing something out of the corner of my eye. I turned so my back was fully to her and said, “You kids should know that I have eyes in the back of my head and I can see what [student’s name] is doing.” Admittedly, this might be considered “lying” to the kids–something I don’t do, but I was also at my wit’s end. They were getting on my last nerve.

Later, while we were lined up waiting for bus dismissal, one of the kids came up and tugged on my sleeve. “Mr. Boomsma, you need to open those eyes in the back of your head so you can see what [another student’s name] is doing.” I’m laughing even now as I consider the possibility that he went home and announced to his parents that I really have eyes in the back of my head. Let’s hope his parents find it equally amusing.

As I reflect on yesterday, the troubles are growing faint. I find myself remembering the good stuff and the funny stuff. It was a long day–in the evening I attended an award’s assembly for grades three through six and saw a number of “my” kids honored for their academic accomplishments. Some were nervous; some were acting like it didn’t matter but beneath the facade you know they are proud of their accomplishments. So am I and I’m willing to allow myself to think I might just have contributed to their achievement in some way.

I know that the challenges I had yesterday will continue to grow dimmer and dimmer. But before they are totally gone, I’ve reflected on the day–a habit that’s pretty deeply ingrained. Part of the reason for reflecting is to decide what I can do differently tomorrow. Some of it is to relive the fun and good stuff. Thinking about yesterday, I came to this conclusion–not for the first time, certainly, but in another way that has even more meaning. I am so lucky to work with these kids. I don’t want to forget that they are that–kids. Small people with big brains… and (this might be the title of my next book) small people with big hearts. For the most part, any aggravation they cause is purely unintentional on their part. In the adult world, people like that are a lot harder to find.

In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. Every day, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”

County Teacher of the Year?

apple iconAs a strong supporter, Bangor Savings Bank just announced that nominations for teacher of the year are open.  One of the exciting changes to the program this year is the selection of sixteen (16) 2014 County Teachers of the Year, one of whom will ultimately be selected as the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year.

Since we have some GREAT teachers in Piscataquis County, I’m thinking you’ll want to “get with the program” and nominate your favorite. The winner of the Maine Teacher of the Year award becomes eligible for the National Teacher of the Year Award.

According to the Educate Maine website, “The County Teachers and Maine Teacher of the Year should be committed to excellence and to nurturing the achievement of all students.  The nominee should bring to the classroom exemplary skills that are recognized by students, colleagues, parents, and all other members of your school’s community.  To be considered for nomination, a teacher must hold at least a four-year degree and be employed by a Maine public school, including a public charter school; or be employed by a publicly supported secondary school (a private school that enrolls 60 percent or more publicly funded students, sometimes referred to as “the academies” or “the Big 11″).”

To recognize a teacher’s role in engaging his/her students positively to improve student achievement, click here for the online nomination form and eligibility requirements or visit any Bangor Savings Bank branch to pick up a nomination form. Deadline for nominations is 5:00 p.m. on February 28, 2014.

 

 

http://www.educatemaine.org/

Who Cares?

One of my old jokes was, “There’s a lot of apathy in our society but who cares?” I’m the first to admit it’s both funny and it’s not. I’ll also confess that I’ve been making the joke long enough that I stopped thinking about whether or not it’s actually true. Granted, it seems like people are less interested and less engaged, but is it due to apathy?

Last fall I self-appointed myself as a volunteer promoter and advocate for the “Pirate Specials Program” developed for our middle and high school students in M.S.A.D. 4. One aspect I’d like to share with you is the extreme lack of apathy I’ve encountered. I started out with a belief that it would perhaps be challenging to get members of the community to agree to participate. What I found instead was enthusiasm and pent-up energy. Most of the folks I talked to wanted to sign on before I’d delivered half my pitch. Sometimes there were logistical challenges such as scheduling, but I considered it my role to make things as easy as possible for those who wanted to volunteer.

Of course I’m still campaigning, but it has been rewarding to see people want to get involved with our schools and our kids. As far as I know, no one’s been avoiding me and I now find myself re-thinking my old joke. Maybe there’s not as much apathy as we think there is. 

Coincidentally, I was introduced to a Ted Talk entitled “The Antidote to Apathy” by David Meslin who calls himself a “professional rabble rouser.”   His formal bio describes him as “Multi-partisan and fiercely optimistic, Dave Meslin embraces ideas and projects that cut across traditional boundaries between grassroots politics, electoral politics and the arts community. In his work, in Toronto and globally, he attempts to weave elements of these communities together. (His business card reads “Dave Meslin: community choreographer,” which feels about right.)”

The video is only eight minutes long so I’m not going to make this post a spoiler. Yes, Meslin talks about Canada, but I think you’ll agree there are plenty of similarities in the United States. This definitely should be required watching for anyone who’s involved with a civic organization, political party, school, church… if you’ve found yourself complaining about people not getting involved in things that matter, watch this.

It’s that time of year!

The holidays are a great time to say “thank you!” I’ve enjoyed your confidence and friendship this past year and it is satisfying to know that a lot of people have achieved success as a result of our work together. As we near the start of a new year, this is also a great time to look back and ahead with an annual update.

You’ll recall last year I announced my intention to increase the emphasis on the training and education aspects of my work. I also announced that I would be substitute teaching kindergarten through grade six at Piscataquis Community Elementary School.

A few weeks ago a fourth grader came to “my” classroom to visit after a day of subbing. In the course of chatting he informed me that “pre-k and kindergarten” were the best years of his life. When I asked why he replied “Because there wasn’t really that much I had to do…” I managed not to chuckle.

I suppose it could be considered cool that at nine or ten years old (going on forty) he’s figured out what’s important to him, but I really want to tell him “the best is yet to come.” At least that’s been true for me—while my life has been good, I can’t recall a period of time that was more fun and more satisfying than these years I am now living.

A big achievement this past year was the release of my book, Small People—Big Brains: stories about simplicity, exploration and wonder. In the obligatory about the author section, I noted, “I’ve effectively started a new career as a substitute elementary school teacher. The kids haven’t run out of things to teach me. They may be small people, but they really do have big brains.”

In support of the book and my future direction, this year I created “Abbot Village Press,” with the idea that we’ll be “Maine’s number one publisher in Maine’s number one town” by publishing books and blogs with purpose. Several publishing projects come to mind and I suspect there will be a volume two of Small People—Big Brains. Perhaps I should issue a warning: “I’m a writer. Anything you do or say may be used in a future article or book.”

I have, of course, continued to offer real estate courses in association with the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate. Class enrollments continue to climb. This may well reflect a growing confidence in the future of real estate. While it’s not a focus, I also continue my affiliation with Mallett Real Estate and work with select clients on a somewhat limited basis. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are going to be involved in a real estate transaction as a buyer or seller.

This past fall, the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative invited me to develop and teach one day classes for others who want to substitute teach! The class was offered in Milo and Guilford and we will be repeating it in January in Dover Foxcroft and Dexter. RSU 19 Adult Education (Nokomis) has asked me to offer several courses. I’m also having a lot of fun helping out with the Piscataquis Secondary School Pirate Specials Program designed to connect middle and high school kids with community resources and individuals who will help them explore career options.

One of the stories that didn’t make it into the book happened a few years ago when a second grader became exasperated with me and said, “Mr. Boomsma, you need to focus.” It helps if you picture her with hands on the sides of her face mimicking the blinders horses wear. At the time, I thought I was very busy. She rightly recognized I wasn’t busy. I just wasn’t doing such a good job of handling multiple priorities. (You can read the entire story on this site.)

Unfortunately, I’ve lost a cartoon I had that showed a fish climbing out of a lake and saying to an animal standing on the shore, “Outta my way, pal. I’m evolving.” I’d like to think that while these are some very good years, the best is yet to come. I’m evolving!

Thanks for your confidence and support. Have a meaningful holiday and a new year filled with health, happiness, and prosperity — make these the best years of your life! Evolve!

Merry Christmas,
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(aka “Mr. Boomsma”)