My Favorite….Poem

I’d like to share with you my favorite poem. It is by Edgar A. Guest and is about how your actions are more important than your words. Many times we tend to think that we can impact society the most by what we say. However, what you do speaks much louder than what you say you do. Don’t talk about it; be about it.

I’d Rather See A Sermon

By: Edgar. A Guest

I’d rather see a sermon

Than hear one any day;

I’d rather one should walk with me

Than merely tell the way.

The eye’s a better pupil

And more willing than the ear,

Fine counsel is confusing,

But example’s always clear;

And the best of all preachers

Are the men who live their creeds,

For to see good put in action

Is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it

If you’ll let me see it done;

I can watch your hands in action,

But your tongue too fast may run.

And the lecture you deliver

May be very wise and true,

But I’d rather get my lessons

By observing what you do;

For I might misunderstand you

And the high advice you give,

But there’s no misunderstanding

How you act and how you live.

It’s Up to You…

Many people I have listened to over the years are not happy with how their life is going currently. They don’t like their jobs, they have marriage problems, tons of debt, etc. I am in the same boat on some of these statements. I am not entirely thrilled with my job and I am paying off a house and student loans. We all have something that we wish we could change (especially prison inmates). Each one of us got into the situation that we’re in because of the same thing.

Choices.

Choices shape who were are and what we will become in the future. We are in control of our own actions. No one forces us to work a job that sucks the life out of us. No one forces us to keep buying things we don’t need that plummet us into more debt. We choose to do these things and we get to pay the consequences.

There it is….consequences.

As humans, we tend to make choices (intentionally or not) without first considering the consequences. The say goes “It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” We are also hindered by our own short-sightedness. As a school teacher, I try to get my students to set goals and work to obtain them. I find, rather quickly, that they haven’t truly thought about what is happening this afternoon, much less in their future. This sort of short-sightedness tends to lead to impulse decisions because there is no goal to help you make your decision. For example, if my goal is to lose weight (it is), then when in the grocery store, I would choose not to buy ice cream because it doesn’t align with my goals.

Now, I’m not saying all impulse decisions don’t work out, nor do I believe that only negative consequences result from choices. I’m merely stating that we have more control over our lives than we think we do. We don’t have to conform to a mold or be who the government wants us to be. It is truly our choice how to handle situations and decisions to arise in our lives. Just bear in mind that your choices carry consequences, good or bad. Make a list of what you want to accomplish in life, set goals that align with these beliefs and desires, and then make choices that help you achieve your goals.

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes…and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

The Open House (Do the Dishes)

I have ALWAYS been a slob. I have been known to discard my clothes on the bedroom floor when changing, resulting in a massive pile of dirty laundry at the end of the week.  There wasn’t a single room in the house I could go and not find one of my socks. Seriously. In the kitchen I tended to leave all wrappings and paper plates on the counter and deal with them when my wife demanded me to clean it up. There are many more ways that I didn’t clean!

This is why I changed.

  1. My Wife – Jessica is the sweetest person in the world. She loves me and puts up with me, even when I give her a hard time. She tells me all the time that she doesn’t want me to see her as a nagging wife. Naturally, this leads to her giving me subtle hints when she would like me to do something. I cannot read these subtle hints. At all. To get me to do something, you have to just tell me straight. That’s not her style and that’s okay!

I started noticing how stressed Jessica was getting and I wanted to know why. It didn’t take me long to figure it out once I actually paid attention. She was exhausted. She teaches all day long, comes home and immediately teaches 2 or 3 piano lessons, cooks dinner, and tries to clean a little. She was overwhelmed and I was part of the problem. I love her, wanted to change for her, and I knew EXACTLY where to start…

Dishes.

She HATES doing the dishes. It is the worst part of cleaning for her. So I decided to become a human dishwasher and let her focus on other things. She loves that I do that for her and she tell me all the time that she gets stressed less when she doesn’t have to wash the tons of dirty dishes in the sink. I also try to not leave clothes and paper everywhere. It has definitely helped our relationship!

  1. Minimalism – About a month ago, I stumbled upon a documentary about Minimalism on Netflix. It was the Minimalists documentary about their tour and their views on getting rid of the clutter in their lives. I decided to watch it because I love documentaries and it looked interesting. I absolutely LOVED their points about material possessions, bad relationships, and digital addictions. Many of their points stemmed from the Bible (even if they didn’t specifically point that out) and sounded like solid advice. I decided to try to get rid of the excess in my life and focus on what matters to me. I became a minimalist of sorts.

I was enjoying my results from de-cluttering, so I suggested it to my wife, thinking she wouldn’t go for it. She jumped on the bandwagon immediately. Since then, we have been going through each item in every room throughout our house to question whether or not we have used it or if it even has any value to our lives. Most things we encountered were a “no.”

We haven’t finished the whole house, but we have completed the kitchen, dining room, living room, and our bedroom. There is nothing on the floors and very few items on the furniture/counters. It looks bare and strange, but it feels GREAT. There is no stress in finding things, cleaning is a breeze, and Jessica is free to add simple decorations to make the house look terrific. Plus, I would feel guilty if I dirtied up a really clean house, so I help out all the time. We have donated and sold SO MUCH.

I would encourage you to go through your living space and get rid of things that you never use or that you have “just because you might need it.” Be proactive in keeping your house clean. We can’t take anything with us when we die and it will just accumulate and stress you out. Ironically, possessions are sold to you with the promise of happiness, but ultimately end up causing you stress and discontent. Let go and be liberated from feeling like you have to own all that stuff. It’s your choice and only you get to decide what brings you true joy. Good luck!

Can’t Stop Losing…

On January 4 of this year, I bought a brand new scale at Wal-Mart. I had always avoided buying a scale because I knew I would not like what it would show me. My wife really wanted to get a scale so I went ahead and purchased her one. We took it home and when I weighed myself, I couldn’t believe the number before me. 412 pounds. I was crushed and very embarrassed. I had known I was overweight, but I hadn’t realized how far I had let myself go. My wife wasn’t pleased with her results either. (I won’t be posting those because I value my life). We decided right then and there that we were going to turn our lives around and become healthier people.

The first step was to join a gym. I’m lazy, but definitely more motivated if I am paying for a membership. My paycheck is not impressive, so I can’t afford to waste too much money.

The next, and most important, step we took was to purge the house of all junk food. Get it out because temptation is a powerful thing! I bought a bag of grapes and froze them so that anytime I became hungry, I could pull a couple of them out to satisfy my sweet tooth. I also switched to almond milk. I thought that I would hate it, but it has become one of my favorite beverages. In 3 months I have lost 39 pounds (373 pounds) and I am psyched to see how many more pounds I can shed within the next year!

Mind games. I am my own sugar pill! I read one time that losing weight and keeping it off isn’t about going on a diet, it is about changing your life-style. To keep motivated and focused, I visualize my journey as a life-style adjustment instead of a temporary diet. My life is changing in ways I knew were possible!

While mind games work for me, my biggest motivation and inspiration is my beautiful wife, Jessica. She is my accountability and workout partner. She kicks my butt when I am feeling lazy. She reminds me of my goals and refuses to let me be content with my progress. She is my rock and I would not be making the progress I am without her help.

I am not going to blog exclusively about my weight loss journey; I will only talk about it here and there depending on epiphanies and milestones that I may encounter. This was just an introduction to where I am at currently and I hope some of the things I share can help you somehow in your own journey! I’ll be checking back in on this subject from time to time. Keep losing to win!

The American Education System…One BIG Fail

The American Education System is not new to criticism. I have read many posts and articles about just how it fails. They are all correct! However, as a classroom teacher who experiences school everyday, I feel compelled to add my two cents. I could go on forever on this subject (just ask my wife) but today I will choose to focus on how the schools do not prepare the average student for college or a contributing part in society.

Schools today are all about memorization and reciting information. Sure, some subjects like history have always been fact-heavy and a bit dry, but even other core areas such as math and science have become academically bulimic. The teacher expect students to remember everything they have been taught and make excellent scores. There is no room for creativity and progress this way. School is one big assessment that constantly measures your progress without giving you time to actually make progress. “Yep, still dumb.”

Listen to me though….

This is NOT the fault of the teachers. I am a teacher and I have tried everything. I have been taught how to differentiate instruction and modify and make things “fun”. The STAAR test (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) is to blame as well as the State Board of Education. We are so focused on the results of the STAAR, that we exchange REAL vital information for a few facts. We are the epitome of mediocracy.  Instead of cultivating a generation of self-reliant, innovative, and skilled workers, we have instead bred a generation of wimps content with mediocracy and dependence. Everyone is mediocre at everything.

We should teach kids the basics and then steer them on to a learning environment that suits their interests. If they want to weld, let’s get them on that and make them an incredibly skilled welder. I would rather have less well rounded people and more skilled craftsmen whether it be a welder or a doctor.

That is all I have today, but I will definitely be talking about the education system more in future posts. Let me know how you feel about the system and how it could be improved!