Parents, don’t forget to teach the basics for physical and mental health!

Ok, that sounds silly, right?

But some things are so basic we don’t even think about them, and then we can forget to teach our children.

What’s more basic than good health?

Study after study has been done showing how important it is to  eat good healthy food. For general health, for fitness, for immunity, for heart health, and there is a recent study which includes a balanced diet as part of a healthy lifestyle in preventing dementia.

Interested? Here is from an AP article on July 14, 2019:

LOS ANGELES — A healthy lifestyle can cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia even if you have genes that raise your risk for these mind-destroying diseases, a large study has found.

People with high genetic risk and poor health habits were about three times more likely to develop dementia versus those with low genetic risk and good habits, researchers reported Sunday. Regardless of how much genetic risk someone had, a good diet, adequate exercise, limiting alcohol and not smoking made dementia less likely.

But do we really teach our children what good healthy eating is? Of course we are the models and it’s more than likely our children will just imitate what we choose. So how good is your diet?

Without going off on a tangent (that’s not really what this post is about), suffice it to say that eating whole foods, with minimal processing, minimal sugar and unhealthy fats is a good start. Load up on the veggies….we all know that but do you share the reasons why with your kids?

And stay away from artificial sweeteners! A number of studies have shown how detrimental these and other “chemicals” are to our health.

Stay moving, stay healthy!

This is more likely to come up in everyday conversation. Especially when you’re already involved in karate, or any other sport. 

I think we all think more in terms of exercise and activity level for kids, or for us when we’re trying to “get in shape”. We need to teach our children that exercise and activity is a life long essential element of a healthy life. 

Not just heart health, but increased immunity, disease prevention, reducing stress, and per above – also wards off dementia! Isn’t it important for our children to be taught this – not just in words but by what we model for them?

Smoking, drinking and drug use

Sometimes we think it’s so obvious that we might forget to instruct our kids. Especially if you aren’t commonly around anyone who smokes, you might forget to talk about why it’s the number one culprit in stealing our health (and our money!) Need more info? Click here

Alcohol has become incredibly controversial with some saying a glass of red wine a day is healthy, while others advise none is the best amount. Being a consumer of red wine, I am prone to believe the first!  I would encourage you to watch a documentary The Truth About Alcohol. It is currently available on Netflix. Fortunately for me, they discovered that there is ONE group that a very small amount of red wine is actually good for — women over 55! 

We live in a world where drugs are prescribed all the time. While drugs can be life saving, we also want to teach our children to be wary. Even life saving drugs become dangerous when used inappropriately or combined with the wrong food or other medication.

Make sure you talk with your children about these important topics: regularly, casually, and not reserved for a one time THE TALK. 

 

 

 

Leading Ourselves So We Can Lead Others: 7pm Wednesday 20 Feb

Leadership is an Action
To lead is to take an action. It is a verb. Something you do.
Leading is easier for some; harder for others. For some, the fear that we will do it wrong will discourage us, and cause us to shrink from the challenge. But even if you do, you must remember that leadership is still happening. Leadership can be something you do without even knowing that you’re doing it, and whether you’re consciously leading or not, there’s someone following you. They may be your kids, your siblings, your cousins, your friends, your colleagues and co-workers, and of course your fellow students in karate-do. They may look to you for guidance, to be an example, for reassurance, or for any number of other things…but like it or not, they need you to lead them the right way, in the right direction.  Whoever they are — whoever you are — they need you to lead them with purpose.
Leading by example
Last month in the Warriors of Grace Leadership Institute, we talked a lot about what leadership really is, and what it is not. As a team, we talked about what makes leadership different from power or authority, and the importance of being confident and deliberate in who and how we lead. Easier said than done!
Understanding Ourselves as Leaders
This month, our focus will be a little different. Rather than focusing on the verb  we’re going to focus on the noun, the person doing the leading. You! Understanding ourselves, our identities, our goals, and our missions (big or small) is essential to the task of conscious, deliberate leadership….and to understanding how we may be influencing those who we lead less consciously. To truly lead with purpose, you must be able to understand your genuine self. Only then will you be able to bring your unique strengths and experiences to the forefront when they’re needed. In short, you need to know yourself and lead yourself before you can lead others on purpose.
With all that in mind, I’d like to challenge our new and returning Leadership Institute students to do a little homework before our next meeting. Please bring a short paragraph about who you are. Try a few sentences, or even a bulleted list. Though it may be tempting to do so, don’t try to imagine how others might see you, or try to write about the person you wish you were. Tell us about how you see yourself — who you are today. I’ll be sure to do the same.
See you soon!

Love is patient, love is kind

We’re all at least somewhat familiar with the popular poem from the bible that is often read at weddings.

It’s interesting that the very first descriptive word of love is patience. Hmmmm, must be that it’s a pretty important aspect to love.

What do we need patience for?

I know no one actually has to ask that! 

We all come as a mixed bag of good stuff and not so good stuff. You have to take the not so good stuff along with the good stuff, or else you’ll be very lonely.

Yes, it’s true people can change. But the ONLY person YOU can change is YOU. So you need to get used to that not-so-good stuff in your friend. And maybe have a little compassion for what they have to put up with in you – to help motivate you to work on something you know irritates your friend.

Is patience a muscle?

In January we showed the kids a Class Dojo video which teaches a growth mindset. It’s really important to understand that we all can grow and changed and that who we are is not FIXED. 

In the video they had the brain doing exercises to get stronger in math.

But we can think of everything we want to improve as a “muscle” that can be exercised.

How to exercise patience?

The next time you’re late and stuck in traffic, think “this is a perfect opportunity to exercise my patience muscle.”  Ok, that may be like jumping straight to world champion muscle building.

How about the next time you’re waiting in the grocery line behind someone who’s having trouble searching for all the loose coins in her large tote bag?

Or when your child is all excited about something that he is desperately trying to tell you about, but having a hard time spitting the words out. Breathe, give him time to collect his thoughts (and exercise his own patience muscle) without jumping in and forming the words for him.

Every problem is an opportunity

That’s one of the mottoes that Sam Lariosa, our mentor in Michigan, lives by. Every problem is an opportunity.

In this case, every time you naturally would go to losing patience, is an opportunity to build your patience “muscle”. Take advantage of it, develop it, and it will impact everyone around you.

Kids learn from their primary teacher – YOU. And they learn more from what you DO and how you ACT, than what you say.

So as you’re strengthening your patience muscle, they’ll be watching and learning as well.

One more note

If you want to help your child develop patience, give them opportunities to exercise their patience muscles.

Intentionally providing opportunities to wait for things is an act of love to a child.  We need to learn patience and self-control at an early age. Start small, and they’ll learn.

For a short article on teaching kids patience, click here.

Take advantage of Warrior Week! It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss

What’s so special about Warrior Week?

Hopefully people enjoy coming out and gathering with greater numbers than they normally do, whether it’s to watch a grading, attend a shiai (tournament), or enjoying all the delicious food there always is at our potlucks!

But Warrior Week can be a unique opportunity to learn some life lessons.

Be prepared

Being invited to grade offers a lesson in planning and preparing: bringing in the required paperwork, completing required written tests and character sheets. As your children get older you can begin to shift the responsibility over to them.

(We apologize for the delay in some grading invitations going out this time.  Thank you weather! We’ll allow extra time to get your paperwork in.)

Shiai (for us, it means friendly tournament!)

The shiai are an important opportunity you don’t want to miss. Watch your son or daughter carefully to see if they are behaving up to your expectations and if any emotions are coming up during the tournament. How do they handle winning? How do they handle losing? Did something seem unfair to them? The drive home will be a wonderful opportunity to address all of these things. Many critical life lessons or skills have only rare opportunities to develop or address. The shiai during Warrior Week might be one such time.

If you are an adult karate-ka — this is an opportunity for YOU, too! Notice what comes up, what feelings arise. Maybe you’ve never been to a shiai and you’re nervous about going. Why? What’s that about? Push yourself! Broaden your experience! Maybe the opposite is true. You can’t wait to go and kick butt! Really? Examine that!

Let’s eat together!

We want to encourage everyone to come to the potluck on Saturday. It’s always a great time to socialize, have the kids “on stage” (developing courage!), as well as learn new things about karate, our specific style, or some other topic we feel is important to share with you.

All students are asked to wear their gi to the potluck (pants and a t-shirt during lunch, adding the gi top and belt after eating), as we will have the classes do demonstrations after we eat.

Looking forward to a great week next week!

 

 

 

Emulating the most humble man who lived

Yes, it’s Jesus. If that’s offensive, I’m giving fair warning so you can stop reading now.

Was Jesus the most humble man to ever live?

The most humble man who lived? Isn’t that a bit unfair, given that he was actually God? A good answer comes from blogger Matt Perman:

“The truth of Jesus’s humanity is just as important to hold to as the truth of his deity. The apostle John teaches how denying that Jesus is man is of the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 4:22 John 7). Jesus’s humanity is displayed in the fact that he was born as a baby from a human mother (Luke 2:7Galatians 4:4), that he became weary (John 4:6), thirsty (John 19:28), and hungry (Matthew 4:2), and that he experienced the full range of human emotions such as marvel (Matthew 8:10) and sorrow (John 11:35). He lived on earth just as we do.”

So why do I say he was the most humble man to live? We’ve been talking about humility as putting others first. Caring more about others than yourself. While he lived and taught, he was always teaching and healing, regardless of what others thought and said. His concern was for the person right in front of him, no matter what the conventions of the time said about that same person. 

And of course, as we are getting ready to celebrate on Good Friday, he went through excrutiating pain and suffering, all for us. 

So, yes, I think it’s fair to say he was the most humble man to live.

What’s a convenant?

Before Jesus came into the picture, God had already made two different covenants. The first was with Abraham and it was one way. No matter what Abraham did, God would make him a nation and bless the world through him. 

Later, to develop a nation that would be light in a dark world, he made a covenant with the whole nation, through Moses. This was convenant which laid out all the rules and told the people: if you obey the rules, I will bless you; if you don’t obey the rules, you will be punished.

What happens when there are a lot of rules?

Yep, that’s right. We break them. We find loopholes. Somehow, the more rules there are the more tempted we are to work around them.

Andy Stanley shares that he basically narrowed down the rules for his kids to two: honor your mother, and don’t lie. Those two rules pretty much covered everything. (He and his wife Sandra also had the goal that teaching their children was all about maintaining relationships. You can watch a wonderful talk given by them on parenting here.)

So, how does this help us emulate Jesus?

Jesus brought a whole new covenant. He gave himself FOR us. The new covenant signaled a new relational agreement with God. The new arrangement completed and ended the old covenant. It replaced much of what had been in place. Jesus came to fulfill all the law and the prophets.

People were expecting him to do something for the nation of Isreal. But he came to do something for YOU. And for me. And for the whole world.

What were the new terms of the new covenant? Jesus distilled all of the laws and prophets down to ONE law! 

John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Can you imagine how transformational this would be if everyone just focused on this one command that Jesus gave us? 

THIS is how we emulate Jesus. 

THIS is how we are known as Jesus followers.

Is it easy? No, of course not. But it IS simple. If you love God, your love for God is best demonstrated by how well you love others. Will we ever be able to do that well? Maybe not. But is IS something to keep striving towards. 

Finishing out our month of looking at humility, it seemed only appropriate to look to the one who was most humble, and how to follow him. It wasn’t planned this way, but God is good, and had us finish this topic as we’re getting ready to celebrate Easter!

(I want to remind everyone that the karate school will be closed Good Friday, March 30, through Easter Monday, April 2.)

 

 

Generosity – Giving and Money

Combining a couple of ideas into this post, I wanted to share the recent mat chats with everyone, AND share some tips to how to teach your kids about money.

Mat Chats for Generosity

The mat chat is focused on giving, or generosity. It’s timely for the season, but really the goal is developing the character trait of generosity, rather than the actual giving of gifts. Because of the season, it does make sense to acknowledge the gift giving aspect of generosity, and use it as an opportunity to talk about money.

We started this theme as a direct segue from our last theme of thanksgiving. Ideally generosity flows from a thankful heart. It’s not really generous if you give something you’re forced to give!

We then made sure the students understand that giving doesn’t have to be about giving THINGS. Our most precious gifts to others are not about things we can buy, but rather what we share of ourselves. We can give a smile, a word of encouragement, or lend a hand. But in order to do those things we have to notice others.

Moving from self to others

Thinking about others instead of ourselves is a process that takes our whole life. We start out as infants with a world that only extends to the edge of our body! Gradually mom, dad, siblings and other relatives enter the infant’s world. But the center of that world is ME! As I grow, it’s a painful process realizing I am NOT the center of the world. Painful for me AND for those around me (as any parent of a 2-3 year old knows!)

We sometimes think that by the time a child is 4 or 5, they understand their separateness and relative place in the world. But really, it is a process that I don’t think ever ends. We at Warriors of Grace want to do everything we can to get the students to think of others first. But even over 50, I have to admit there are times I revert to just paying attention to my own needs and wants, without regard to others!

The conversation about becoming generous is really all about being aware of others and thinking of what they can give others. We won’t give an offer of help, if we’re not aware that someone could use help! We won’t give a smile unless we’re aware of the other person in the first place!

Sometimes it can be easier to do something RIGHT when you better understand the consequence of doing something WRONG. In this case, we describe a person who does NOT notice others, and is NOT a giving person. Most kids can understand selfishness and know they don’t want to be thought of as selfish. Thinking of others is an antidote to becoming selfish!

So how to tie generosity in a conversation about money?

First, I want to encourage you to have regular conversations with your kids about money. The more you are open and able to talk about it, the smarter your kids will be on the topic. It’s important to have age appropriate conversations, and ideally in natural responses to situations as they occur. Older kids can have specific “lessons” when they’re ready.

Here is an article worth reading if you haven’t given any thought to these kinds of conversation.

God says…

In the Judeo-Christian worldview (and in fact many other religions), we are encouraged to give our money away. Imagine how much small the safety net from our government would need to be if we all made regular contributions towards meeting the needs of those who can’t meet their own needs. Wow! It would be a different world, wouldn’t it!!

If God says it important to take care of others, maybe we ought to consider it important, too! We’re always talking about putting others first, so let’s extend that to be the first thing you do when you receive money (your paycheck, for example.) Set aside money to GIVE.

Then pay yourself. In the form of savings for the future or for large items requiring saving. Yes! Imagine a world without debt! That would be a totally different world too! And it can be done. By saving before you buy rather than putting anything on credit.

After you’ve given, after you’ve paid yourself in the form of savings, then you know what you have left over and you can budget from there. Give – Save – Live. The secret to living a financially healthy life!

I recognize that this is way too simplistic for a lot of you and everyone is in different situations. People do need help to get through hard times (that’s why we give in the first place!)

But this is a pretty simple message that you can over time teach your children. I feel confident that everyone can agree that generosity is a worthwhile trait. Giving can be in any number of ways.

We believe in God, and we believe he blesses our giving. We believe he loves us immensely and will not fail to take care of us, even in our darkest days. When we give, we are trusting that God will provide what we need. But whatever your beliefs, teaching your kids about giving and money is important.

Thanksgiving Every Day!

Yes, the best way to stay healthy and happy is to make EVERY day Thanksgiving! No, not eating all the food we look forward to every Thanksgiving holiday, but finding something to be thankful for ALL the time!

Thanksgiving – The Big Things

We have in our display case the BIG things that our students wrote down that they are thankful for. And it is important to remember those things and it’s wonderful that we set aside a day to really think about all the blessings we have.

But even more important is developing an “attitude of gratitude”. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s a good one to remember!

Thanksgiving – The Small Blessings

We need to be open to seeing the small blessings that we receive every day. A friendly smile from the clerk at the store. A new song that lifts your mood. An old song you haven’t heard in a while which brings back wonderful memories. The way the sun shines on the last of the Autumn leaves. The wind carrying the clouds quickly across a clear blue sky. The warm head of your pet resting in your lap. The look of accomplishment on a child’s face when they “get it” for the first time! (Whatever “it” is!)

Every day has gifts in it and we need to have the mindset to receive those gifts. We need to focus on what is good, rather than what is not so goods. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t.

Thanksgiving – In Hard Times

As we get comfortable developing this first step, we can even develop the ability to find the gifts in the midst of tough times. It is a real treasure to be able to find the silver lining in every situation. And will lead to a happy and fulfilled life.

Didn’t get that promotion you were hoping for? Maybe there is some relationship that needs to be developed in the current job. Plans for vacation fell through? That can be the perfect time to spend quality time with the kids doing things close to home you never have a chance to do! Your buddy isn’t at school/work today? That’s an opportunity to reach out and get to know someone new!

And as Senpai Josiah shared last night — a virus has you out of commission? It might be an opportunity to enjoy settling in on the couch and watching shows you don’t usually get to see (or reading books you don’t usually have time for)!

As we head into Thanksgiving week I want to encourage everyone to develop an attitude of gratitude and find something to be grateful for in every situation!

Three Strikes for Anti-Bullying

We are an antibullying school and we have taught anti-bullying to many school.  We teach children a simple yet effective way to stop bullying in schools. We have been teaching this for years and teachers have let us know that it is working! This week we have been reviewing it with our own students in classes.

What’s Three Strikes?

It’s funny because in some classes when we ask what 3 strikes mean to them – they might say bowling! Well, yes, there are strikes in bowling, but that’s not what we’re talking about!  Right now with the World Series just finished, hopefully you understand what we mean by three strikes!

When to use the three strikes anti-bullying method

We always tell children that if someone is hurt or in danger of getting hurt they need to go to an adult right away. This Three Strike method is to stop the SMALL mean behaviors that can grow into full-fledged bullying.

We used to use the metaphor of a match accidentally dropped. If there’s some dry grass around, a fire starts. If there are bushes nearby, the fire grows. Trees….you get the idea. Suddenly, you’re dealing with California wildfires that can’t be put out, but can only be restrained. In this analogy, we say before each spread, what if no one was there to see? What if there was nothing around to put it out?

Those small mean behaviors, if ignored, grow just like that fire. It’s because no one says anything, and either the perpetrator gets more desperate for a response, or she grows in confidence that she can do anything she wants and no one will say a word, that leads to a full-fledged bully. So we need to call out small mean behaviors just like we need to blow out that match, or douse the first flames.

What is the Three Strike method?

The first time someone does or says something mean, the response should be (calmly): “Please don’t do/say that. I wouldn’t do/say that to you.”

Now here’s the thing. A lot of us do things that hurt others without realizing it. As soon as someone points it out, we’re likely to apologize and that’s the end of it. Kids are the same way. They often just need someone to calmly point out that what they did was not acceptable. End of story.

The second time it happens the response should be (again, calmly): “Please stop. I asked you to stop once. If you do it again I will have to report you.”

What is reporting?

Well, it’s not continually running to whatever adult is nearby and whining and complaining that so and so is always doing such and such, waa waa waa!

The big idea here is that we want to HELP our friends to NOT become bullies! We are NOT trying to get anyone in trouble!

So reporting is, again, CALMLY, going to the appropriate adult and clearly state what has been happening. “Mrs. Smith, I don’t want to get Susie in trouble but she ……….. I have asked her to stop and she hasn’t. Can you please help?”

That’s it. The Three Strike Method to anti-bullying. When kids realize they can speak up and say no, it goes a long way to changing the environment so bullying doesn’t develop in the first place.

The best time to start this?  IN PRESCHOOL!!! That’s right. The younger the better. But 1st and 2nd graders also do well with this simple strategy. The older kids tend to be “too cool”.  They become more entrenched in ideas like “boys will be boys” or “there’s nothing I can do about it anyway” or some other mindset that actually feeds into bullying.

If your child begins to use the three strike method, others will follow. And you know who might be saved from becoming a bully? Your child!

What do you really want to say?

I stopped using facebook as the country became more and more divided. At our core, we have much more in common with each other than the media would have us believe. And yes, I mean media. That includes social media.

There are powers in the world that are only too happy to see us divided. And it can be oh so appealing to jump on a bandwagon and add my own two cents. Forgive the allusion, if you will, but we certainly can behave like sheep.

Do you want to contribute to division or unity?

If at your core, you really believe it is essential to put your “truth” out there and you really don’t care whether you are contributing to division, well, then so be it. Carry on.

I would only ask you to think through this: is your message really going to convince anyone of anything? Or are you just strengthening your “side” because it would be oh so horrible if your “side” were not strengthened?

However, if at your core, you want to see conversation restored and true understanding between people, is your post a help or a hindrance?

Don’t give up on truth.

I am not asking for anyone to change their mind or not hold to their perception of truth. We all want to get to the truth and not be lied to. I am just very skeptical that anyone actually discovers truth through posts that are insisting we are on opposing sides and each thinks the other is evil. That just is not helpful for anyone.

If there are two view points on any topic, it is likely that one is more “truthful” or “in alignment with reality” than the other. The best discourse takes place when both parties are respectfully and lovingly able to give and take, share their views as well as their sources, and because love is present, are willing to really listen to the other’s thoughts and ideas rather than dismissing them out of hand. This is the kind of discourse that can create true healing, find real solutions to real problems, and maintain dignity for all parties. It is through disagreement that we find better solutions!

What do you want to say?

So, next time you’re about to post something that ANYONE might find hurtful or offensive – ask yourself: What is it I want to say? Am I ok with someone feeling like I hate them for their alternate viewpoint? Is this really going to change anyone’s mind? Is this information that the people I agree with just HAVE to have and is worth the potential harm I cause?

Or, do I want to be uplifting, encouraging and loving to ALL people who might read it, not just those who agree with me?

Think – Integrity In What You Say

Think

Integrity has been our theme for the past few weeks in class.  We have talked about what it means to you, how you know you are acting with integrity and why it is important to do so.  This week the dojo is closed for summer break.  We will open again Sunday the 9th.  But that doesn’t mean our lessons don’t continue.

Integrity

Integrity is what you do when know one is watching, right?  So even though no one is at the dojo this week, we want to continue our subject on integrity with a short lesson on thinking before you speak or for that matter thinking before you write something on social media.

Social media has become such a huge part of our lives that sometimes what we say or write there is automatic.  We type it and hit send before we have truly taken a moment to THINK it through.

THINK Before You Speak

Before you hit send either in spoken words or written take a minute to ask yourself these questions.

TRUE

Is what you are about to say true?  Because we want to live with integrity it is important that we always speak the truth.  On social media this could be even more important because what we post can spread so quickly. If we post a lie, even in a joking way, it can be seen by 100’s or 1000’s of people before we have time to retract it.

Helpful

Have you ever been with someone who talks incessantly?  Someone who talks but never really says anything important.  Now think back to the times you have had a good, honest conversation with a friend or family member and how much that conversation still means to you months or even years later.  When you speak keep these two conversations in mind.

Do you want to be the person who talks just to hear the sound of your own voice or would you rather be the person who people listen to because when you speak they know it is going to be something worth listening to?

Inspiring

When I first saw this list and saw the word inspiring I wondered, how often do I say something inspiring.  Does it even make sense to be in the list.  But then I started thinking about the negative comments I see on a daily basis.  Whether people are talking about politics, the latest celebrity news or even about their work lives, they are filled with negative comments.  Negative comments are the very opposite of inspiring.  While most of us will not come out with words that are inspiring enough to change a person’s life, all of us are capable of using words that will bring a smile to someone else’s face.  That’s inspiring.

Have you inspired someone to smile today?

Necessary

This may be a do over.  Above we talked about helpful.  Is what you are about to say helpful or necessary? But let’s go further into it here.  While not every word that comes out of your mouth is helpful, sometimes speaking up is necessary.  Sometimes by starting a conversation with someone even when you aren’t sure what you are about to say is helpful is necessary.  Because sometimes your conversation may be the only one that person will have that day.  When you see someone who is sitting by themselves or looking sad, a kind word from you may be the very thing that makes them feel included and happy.  While we want you to think about what you say, we don’t want you to be stingy with your words.

Consider saying hi to someone who looks down today and see how you can change someone’s day.

Kind

At Warriors of Grace Karate School we almost don’t have to mention this because our students have this one down so well.  Kindness is part of what makes our students so special.  But today we want to challenge you to try something new.  When you are out for your next run, walking through the grocery store or even in your own home, pick one thing to compliment someone on.  I love to do this when I am running.  As I pass someone I will give them a compliment, even something as small as “those are some cool socks.” What amazes me is that this small compliment never fails to make the person stand a little taller and run a  little faster.  Kindness goes a long way.

When was the last time you received a compliment that made you stand up taller and feel a little better?  Do the same thing for someone else today.