Para volar has nacido…

Herring_in_Chanute_Oscillating_Wing_Glider_1902

                                                            Douglas Palacios

Para crecer llegaste…

y es entonces tu turno.

Tu cuerpo te ha enseñado

desde que tu naciste.

Hoy,

le toca a tu mente,

la decisión es tuya:

O serás lo que sueñas,

o vivirás durmiendo…

¿Cuál es tu sueño niño?

¿Cuál es el tuyo niña?

¿Y usted, señor? ¿Señora?

¿Cuál es su sueño?

Porque aunque no lo crean

soñar no tiene edad…

Y aunque parezca loco,

tengo que recordarles,

que es posible soñar,

y realizar un sueño

es igual de posible…

¿Cómo puedes lograrlo?

No sé,

nos toca a cada quien

descubrir ese método–

ese secreto ardiente

que nos quema por dentro

y una vez descubierto

nos impulsa, violento.

Yo apenas he empezado

a descubrir el mío.

Si a caso te sirviera,

pues aquí te lo digo:

He descubierto,

Que todo lo que quiero

puedo lograrlo.

Todo.

Todo.

Y he descubierto también,

que no es así de fácil.

Cuesta.

Cuesta.

Pero no es imposible.

Pero requiere esfuerzo.

Y mucha disciplina.

Es como aquella magia

que muchos de nosotros

realizamos un día:

el caminar.

¿Te acuerdas?

Al principio, sólo veíamos a los grandes,

paseándose comodamente,

equilibrados en sus enormas patas…

Qué envidia que nos daban,

que hasta nos inspiraban…

Y así empezamos pues

a controlar el cuerpo

a coordinar las manos,

nuestros agüados pies

y esa enorme cabeza

para aprender poco a poco

a arrastrar el pellejo.

Y luego…

con gran esfuerzo

(y gran satisfacción)

nos arrastramos.

Después,

no conformes con nuestro andar de culebras,

nos dio por desafiarnos nuevamente,

hasta que al fin

nos sentamos…

y acumulamos práctica,

y poco a poco llegamos

a levantar el cuerpo

y a sostener el peso

sobre pequeñas piernas…

Y mientras tanto,

de reojo veíamos

el andar en dos patas,

del resto de los grandes,

vagando por el mundo,

como si nada.

Y un día de repente

nos  pusimos de pie…

Y habían unos cuantos

que al vernos celebraron

y con gran alegría

nos invitaron a más

nos convencieron con risas

con amor y entusiasmo

a que avanzáramos más…

Y motivados,

pata pa´lante echamos

Y probamos muy pronto

la solidez del suelo

y algunos de nosotros

hasta vertimos sangre

y nos dolio el fallido

y el golpe fue tan duro

que hasta algunos lloraron

y se sintieron mal…

Pero tras la caída,

volvimos a intentar

Y otras cuantas caídas

y otros vasos de llanto

Y otros nuevos intentos

hasta que un día,

al fin,

imitando borrachos

emprendimos sonrientes

nuestro propio camino.

Ya nada nos detuvo

Ya nadie.

Y entonces fuimos libres

y por fin prescindimos

de aquellos que aún querían

cargar con nuestro cuerpo

Pero ya no podían

porque en aquél momento

ese fue nuestro cuerpo.

Y empezamos ahí

a dominarlo

y  a entrenarlo

para así que entendiera

la voluntad secreta

de nuestra propia mente.

 

Hoy,

le toca a tu mente.

Se ha llegado la hora

para que la despiertes.

Dale vida a tus sueños

transfórmalos por fin

con toda tu energía,

con plena voluntad

para que al fin empieces

a dictarle a tu vida

la historia que te mueve,

y sueñas desde siempre.

Es hora de ensillarla,

amansarla,

y encaminarla así

hacia esa realidad

que tu siempre has ansiado…

No va a ser fácil,

esa mente es salvaje.

Pero puedes lograrlo.

Ha de tirarte al suelo.

Una vez y hasta mil.

¡¿Y qué?!

¿Qué importa?

Te romperás la jeta

Y el ego.

Pero si te levantas

cada vez que te caigas

Vas a volar

Vas aprender por fin

el método secreto

que ya muchos conocen.

Tu los has visto–

son tantos

los que ya viven tu sueño.

Que nunca se te olvide

que como ellos

un día tu aprendiste

a caminar por el mundo

este mismito mundo

por donde ellos hoy vuelan…

“Para nacer he nacido”

dijo Neruda.

Pero además de nacer,

el poeta voló.

¿Qué esperas?

Para volar has nacido.

Inspírate en la cría

que ha de caer mil veces,

pero mil y una vez

se ha de poner de pie,

hasta que al fin camine.

¿Qué esperas?

Dale,

¡Salta!

¡Vuela!

Para volar has nacido.

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Top Ten (Teacher-Recommended) Ways to Improve Your Child’s School Experience

by Douglas Palacios

Warning (legal disclaimer):   There is no research behind the following recommendations/claims.  The author takes no responsibility for whatever results from your use of these “recommendations.” Each child’s performance in school will be determined by many factors, including, but not limited to, how you (parents) raised your child and what he/she got stuck with in the genetic department (the old nature vs. nurture thing). You may experience slight dizziness or cramping while reading this.  If your symptoms become too painful to bear, please stop reading immediately and quit searching the internet for ways to improve your child’s performance in school: you obviously can’t handle it.

So heeeeeere we go….

#10. Ask your child’s teacher if there is something you can do to help him/her.  Even if you think there is NOTHING in the world you can do to help a teacher (which is usually never the case–teachers can be quite creative and may figure out a way for you to help), just ask.   Some suggestions: “Can I help you post work on the bulletin board?; straighten out the cubbies?; feed the cobra?; maim that pushy parent so he/she won’t be able to walk up the stairs to your classroom to tell you what a bad teacher you are in comparison to last year’s teacher?; come read to the class or help with “centers,” etc.?”   Teacher’s appreciate your time and see the offer as a sincere attempt on your part to be involved in your child’s school experience.  Your child will see that you care about her/his classroom and that you value the space and people he spends much of his time with during the day.

#9. Even if you decide that you don’t like your child’s teacher (chances are the teacher hates your guts as much as you hate her/him already),  have a conversation early on in the year in which you explain to her that you want to support her as much as possible so that your child can have a good experience and be the best he can be in her class.  NOTE: this doesn’t mean, of course, that your child will get the grades you want him to get.  Most teachers I know are in the profession because they love being with children and because they care.  Ideally, they want every parent to see them as advocates for their children.  So do your best to make it clear to the teacher that you’re both on the same team even if you don’t always agree with/like her modus operandi.

#8. Schedule playdates with other children in the class.   A good idea is to ask teachers who your child plays well with.  Often, parents end up setting up these playdates with the children of parents they “like,” such as neighbors or people they have things in common with (socio-economic background; car make; wardrobe; political persuasion; sexual orientation).  This works and is convenient,  but your teacher’s recommendation may turn out to be a pleasant surprise.  Children don’t care about the superficial stuff we adults get stuck on when choosing “who we play with.”  Think about it this way:  Would you let your parents choose who you “played with” on any given day?

#7. Make sure your child does his/her own homework! (Otherwise, teacher assumes she is brilliant at home, but somehow, once she’s in class, the lights go out inside her brain and her IQ drops significantly.  If the homework is too hard for your child,  write a note to the teacher asking him/her to help your child–an email would work best as, no matter how responsible your toddler is, she is likely to lose the note!)

#6. Communicate important messages by e-mail.   Your child is not the only one in the class.  Teachers have tight schedules,  tons of preparation to do, children’s emotional fires to put out, administrators’ loops to jump through, pushy parents to deal with, etc. (some of these teacher are parents too!)  Telling a teacher that Johnny doesn’t understand what the hell is going on in Math class this week and that he’s been crying his heart out because the homework is too difficult  is not a good idea.  By the time class starts,  the teacher has forgotten the whole thing and Johnny will not get the help he needs in spite of your morning’s strong and direct “Message.”   If you send that e-mail (and please don’t expect a reply by lunch-time.  Give them at least 24 hours to reply),  the teacher knows they have to reply.  If you want to make sure the teacher will reply,  cc the message to the Principal or the teacher’s direct supervisor.

#5. If your child tells you that they are not enjoying school,  ask questions and share the information (e-mail again with a cc to the principal is a good idea).  Usually,  if a teacher knows that one of his/her students is having difficulties, they will ask colleagues/staff to keep an eye out for him/her.    I often noticed that many of the students I taught had difficult days (weeks even) when things at home were out of whack (parent was away doing business travel; dog was about to be euthanized; a relative was in trouble; grandma was ill and wasn’t coming by as often; parents were divorcing, death in the family, etc.).

#4. Anytime time there is unusual change/hardship/stress at home, please let your child’s teachers know.  Let the Principal know as well (again, e-mail with a big URGENT!!! heading).   Last year, our family went through some trying times.  In the space of six months, our 10-year-old had to deal with a new sibling, the loss of the only house he had ever known (we were foreclosed, the house was sold and the new buyer showed up at the door with a 3 day eviction notice) and loosing his best friend because the boy’s parents could not resolve a problem they had with us in a mature manner (they tried to involve the children…).  The result could have been disastrous for our son.  Fortunately,  I communicated our situation to his teachers and the school counselor and maintained communication with them throughout the duration of the ordeal.  The support we received was incredible.  For them, it was important to know what our child was going through so that they could address any behavioral changes appropriately, in a way that would support him and help him do his best in school.  Life happens, and regardless of how difficult your problem is, letting your child’s teacher know that things are not going well at home (you don’t need to share the details) will make his/her teachers more sensitive to your child’s need.

#3. Stop asking your child “How was school?”  or “Did you have a good/bad day today?” on your drive home.   If you do, be ready to hear “Fine; good; or bad” in response to your question.  Chances are they will be tired at pick up.  The last thing they want to do is “revise” what they have just “completed.”   Give them a break.   A colleague of mine suggests the following exercise:  during dinner or once they are relaxed and ready for bed, ask them to list 3 things they enjoyed about the school day that day;  and 3 things they would change.   If you get them to list 1 for each category, consider yourself lucky.  The idea is that you do this repeatedly,  like a game.  You should also play the game by doing the same (about work or staying at home).  It’s a great way to reflect on what went on during the day and is quite productive if you focus on the positive. “What would you change?” is certainly a healthy, hopeful approach to life’s setbacks and gives children the comfort of knowing that setbacks or bad experiences are not permanent but can be surpassed. On the other hand, “What was bad about your day?” forces them to “re-live” an unpleasant experience without any beneficial purpose.  This will help you identify aspects of school that your child is enjoying and having difficulties with, so that when meeting with your child’s teacher, you can highlight both the positive things that the school is doing and the areas where you feel there could be improvement.   As a rule, we all like to be recognized for some positive aspect of the work we do even as we are being asked to make some improvements in other areas.

#2. Vary your child’s lunch and make sure he knows what’s for lunch.  Last minute surprises suck–especially if she’s starving mad and, upon unzipping her lunch-bag, she finds that you packed her the one thing she had mentioned she was getting sick of. (I’m guilty of not doing this, by the way. The consequences?  a) Food comes back looking quite ugly b) Child comes home looking/feeling like crap c) You’ve thrown food/money away d) You’re not very happy because of a) thru c) and end up feeling/looking as bad or worse than your child.)

#1.  Make sure your child is getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep… Really: 10 to 12 hours of sleep. Let me repeat that:  10 to 12 hours of sleep.  Let me write it on the board for those of you who will forget it by the time you leave the room you’re in: 10 to 12 hours of sleep.  You get extra points if you search the web for sleep and its impact on school performance.  You get SHARING points if you share this post with other parents who may find this helpful or funny, or who have too much free time on their hands!!!

Doug Palacios has officially defrocked and no longer teaches.  He is now a Realtor in the Piedmont and Berkeley/Oakland Hills and sells beautiful but expensive homes to the parents whose children he miseducated.  Now that he is done teaching, he claims to have learned more from his students than he ever taught. In 2011, he co-wrote and published a satirical novel on prejudice, ignorance and the politics of immigration in the USA.   

Got the giving bug?

So I’ve been getting lots of love from family, friends, relatives and even people I have never met.   It got me thinking that giving is truly a virtue and, for those on the receiving end, a reminder of what we should be striving for in life… Enjoy and THANK YOU to all of you GIVERS out there.  You do make a difference!

For all your generosity:

Thank you! Merci! Gracias! Obrigado! Danke! Cảm ơn bạn! ありがとう! 謝謝! Your generosity makes a difference in the world!

Testing for human kindness

The guy holding the sign at the corner of 51st and Shattuck, in Berkeley, looked like a healthy,  White, middle class man with no apparent sign of physical handicap and the demeanor of a typical American youth traveling across the country on whatever change he can gather from drivers stopping at his chosen corner.

Testing for human kindness

And people felt almost compelled to drop a buck in his bucket.   But, just across the street from him, an immigrant family–seemingly of Arab descent, was not getting as much kindness.   Never mind the little 3 year old in the stroller or the dejected look of the young woman holding her own sign.

I wandered if the young man across from them noticed them.  And, if he did, I wonder if he tested for his own kindness.

So what did I do?   I drove past the guy with a smile at his clever sign, made a u-turn and came around to where the family was.  I figured my dollar would go a lot further in their pocket.  Oh.. and I gave them a card with the 211 number on it, telling them that by calling it they might be able to get help with housing, food and clothing for all of them.

Times are hard,  and I wish I had enough to give everyone.  But the reality is that me and my family have been on the receiving end of generosity.   And so,  this entry is my way of saying that there is no need to test for human kindness–it exists,  I’ve gotten so much of it recently.

What I do need to test for, actually, is my ability to find in me the kindness to think of others who are in even worse shape than I, and to act on it–even in the smallest way possible.

To all of you who are already doing your part to help others,  THANK YOU for proving that kindness requires NO testing to manifest itself.

Teacher Recommended: Top 10 Things to Do With Your Child This Summer

by Douglas Palacios

Every year, just as the school year is about to end, parents ask me (not exactly in these terms) : “Is there something you recommend I do with my child this summer?”

While I know that their question refers to “academic” activities, I do my best to avoid recommending a book, or a set of exercises, or a Kumon-like intensive summer-camp to keep their child’s math pencil sharpened.  Instead, I suggest they sit down with their child and make a list of:

  1. Things the child would like to do (places to go to, activities, camps, etc.).
  2. Things the parent would like the child to do (places to go to, activities, academic camps, music lessons, etc.).
  3. Things they both would like to do together.

The best answer will be arrived at based on circumstances particular to each child and family.  But sitting down and giving the child an opportunity to have even a small say in how his/her summer will unfold, is certainly something I would hope every parent does.

But some folks like to be told what to do anyway, so here’s my list  of 10 Things To Do With Your Child This Summer:

  • 10.   Read him/her your favorite childhood book.  For me, it’s The Little Prince.  Even if your child hates the book, he/she will always remember the summer you forced him/her to  listen to you reading that terribly boring book. (More than likely, the opposite will happen.)
  • 9.   Go fly a kite. Or tell your child to Go Fly a Kite! (The more often you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
  • 8.   Cook a meal together and offer it to someone as a gift: ideally, a neighbor, a relative or a friend.  Whatever you do, don’t invite the recipient of your gift to your home or they’ll expect you to eat it with them.  Be smart. You know what’s in it and how you prepared it.  Deliver the meal, make up an excuse for not staying, get the hell out of there quickly, take your child out for a burger or tacos, and laugh together at your culinary skills.
  • 7.   Have your child read you his/her favorite book.
  • 6.  Watch a foreign movie with sub-titles.  Ideally, one about death, orphans or poorly-behaved children who get into trouble for going against their parents’ wishes.  The more depressing the movie, the more likely they are to listen to you in the future.
  • 5. Watch a comedy–a real one, not the kind they think of as comedy! Chaplin is always refreshing (and it will make them read).
  • 4.  Go to a free concert and support the artists by buying their CD and giving it to your child as a gift.  When you get home, tell him to burn 100 copies and sell it to friends–I believe this is how Steve Jobs and Bill Gates got their business skills.
  • 3.  On a hot day, tell your child to invite a few friends over for a movie. While they’re watching it, go  buy them all the ice-cream and toppings you can imagine (add a few bananas and cherries if you’re the health conscious type) and surprise the sweet tooth out of them.  Make sure they eat ALL $50 worth of low-quality ice cream.
  • 2. Take 10 pictures in 10 different cities, doing something you’ve never done together. Make sure it’s legal.
  • 1. Tell your child you love him or her at least once every day of the summer.  Here’s the hard part:  Every time you do it, put aside everything you were doing and put away all thoughts that may keep you from being fully there for your child. If you’re the busy type and think Texting, Tweeting, E-mailing, Messaging, or Face-booking “I LOVE YOU :)” will do the job, question your motives and your love for your child. Face to face works best, but if you have to, using Skype or the good old telephone should be your only alternatives…

Enjoy your summer!! But, more than anything, enjoy the privilege of having a child to enjoy your summer with…