Wisdom from Sheep

The book Sheep, By Valerie Hobbs jumped out at me as I browsed the Young Adult novels at the library last week. Sheep caught my eye because,

sheep=yarn

yarn=knitting

knitting=relaxing.

This all seems like a perfectly logical reason to check out Sheep.

The book is about Jack, a sheep herding dog, and his life of adventures. It was written in 1st person from the view of Jack.

When Jacks’s father finally acknowledged that he was big enough to join the working dogs, he wrote this:

“That was before I saw the sheep. Sheep everywhere! The truck stopped, and they closed in all around us like a big gray woolly blanket, bawling and baaing, stinking like, well, like sheep.”

How nice to be content in your own environment.

Encouragement inspires us to be more of who we are. I wrote about being more of who we are in this post. Jack made the same observation in the animal world of sheep and dog.

“When the sheep were right, you had that deep down good feeling that you were making a difference. You were doing what you were meant to do, what you believed in, what you were really good at.  I’ll tell you, nothing in the world is better than that.”

Another connection is that encouragement takes away fear.  Here is Jack’s version.

“Out was what I wanted. It was a stronger feeling than fear, that need to be free of the cage.”

Encouragement is everywhere!

Encouragement from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

I love children’s literature. It brings out the commonality of human nature in a simple and often hilarious ways. I
love stories because they help us laugh at ourselves.

A favorite story is Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes. The story is about Lilly and her new purple plastic purse that makes music when you open it. Lilly admires her teacher Mr. Slinger. One day, after a shopping trip with her grandmother, she brings in her new glamorous sunglasses, and purple plastic purse to school. While sharing her new treasures at an inappropriate time during the day Mr. Slinger gently takes the new items and holds them in his desk until the end of the day. Lilly gets very upset and angry. However, that evening she realized her mistake and apologizes the next day. Then all is well again.

Here is a walk through Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse with some editorial comments about encouragement and human nature.

Lilly’s teacher encourages others by example. He was not like the other teachers.

 (#1 Encouragement is intrinsically good. It brings out the best in others.)

Mr. Slinger was sharp as a tack.

He thought that desks in rows were old-fashioned and boring. ‘Do you think you can handle a semicircle?’

‘Wow,’ said Lilly. That was just about all she could say, ‘wow’.

Lilly loves her teacher and want to be one just like him. He did it through example.

Lilly felt good about herself with her new items in tow and wanted to share that feeling. Maybe she was encouraging others to get their own purple plastic purse, maybe not. (#4 Something good for me may not be good for you.)But she definitely wanted to share with others what was making her feel good about herself. She wanted others to notice her joy and perhaps help others to find their joy.

Lilly wanted to show everyone…Lilly really wanted to show everyone.  Lilly really, really wanted to show everyone.

“Not now,” said Mr. Slinger. “wait until recess or Sharing Time.”

But Lilly could not wait.  “Look,” Lilly whispered fiercely. “Look, everyone. Look what I’ve got!” Everyone looked. Including Mr. Slinger. He was not amused.

“I’ll just keep your things at my desk until the end of the day,” said Mr. Slinger. “They’ll be safe there, and then you can take them home.”

Because Lilly shared her overflowing joy at the wrong time, she temporarily lost her treasures. And she lost her joy.

Lilly’s stomach lurched. She felt like crying….Lilly longed for her purse all morning.

Not only did she loose her joy, she became sad, angry, and furious. She lashed out at Mr. Slinger with insults. She drew a mean picture of Mr. Slinger and put it in his book bag. She wanted him to feel her pain.

Lilly’s reaction made me think about how I react when my special things are taken away.

Mr. Slinger had put a note in her purse before returning it to her at the end of the day. It read, “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.” When Lilly arrived home she felt horrible. After telling her mother and father everything that had happened, she wrote an apology note.

I thought it was very mature of Lilly to think of writing an apology note all by herself. I’m sure her parents would have encouraged her to write one if Lilly had not come up with the idea on her own.

Lilly seemed to be very aware of the situation. Although she did not like what happened at school, she wrote the apology anyway. She also made some treats to share with the class. This makes me think of another encouragement principle to be added to my list, encouragement takes courage.

In the morning, Lilly gave the treats and the note to Mr. Slinger before school started. And the day went much better.

Lilly shared her new treasures during Sharing Time. She also kept the treasures in her desk.

Throughout the rest of the day, Lilly’s purse and quarters and sunglasses were tucked safely inside her desk. She peeked at them often but did not disturb a soul.

I love having special things close to me during the day. When I was first engaged, and sometimes still, I love to glance at my engagement ring and smile. It is such a fun reminder of how our family started, just Chris and me. I can go days without thinking about my ever present ring, but it is a fun reminder when I take the time to look at it and remember.

At the end of the day,

Lilly ran and skipped and hopped and flew all the way home, she was so happy.

We are happy when things are in order. We are happy when we have the courage to make things right.

Do Cookies Encourage You to Buy?

I recently received this catalog from quill.com in my office mail. We do not order from this particular office supply company. However, the cookies were really tempting me. I actually checked my printer to see if the cartridge on sale would fit  my printer. It was interesting to see that this offer encourages new orders with a monetary discount AND yummy cookies.

Would these offers compel you to buy?
Would these offers compel you to buy?

I was a bit disappointed in myself when I realized that the cookies were more tempting than the $20.00 off. Really, that sounds a bit shallow. But it is what it is.

Ultimately, we are sticking with our current office supply company.  I do wonder how many people ordered just to get the cookies.

The First Letter of Your Last Name

Sometimes we encourage others to do something, to make a change, to up the game. We strive to make a change that

Remembering my walk at the end of the diploma line

will make our world better. We appreciate encouragement to get there. Other times we just need to acknowledge the truth and know that it is what it is. [Nature of Encouragement #2: Plausible change is necessary for encouragement to be effective.]

Today I witnessed behavior based on something that, for most of us never changes. It is written in stone, or at least on our birth or marriage certificate. It is our last name, more specifically, the first letter of said name.

Recently kid #4 “graduated” from 8th grade. I say “graduated” because really she is just moving along to 9th grade in the fall. When I was a kid there was just as much pomp and circumstance with the 8th to 9th grade transition as there was for the 3rd to 4th grade transition. I guess we need another occasion to buy balloons and eat cake.

So, there I was sitting in the stands. A friend sitting next to me was there to watch her daughter graduate as well. My friend’s last name starts with A. My last name starts with B. So as they started calling the students names, we were both very attentive, and had our iphones ready to take a picture as the girls received their certificate. Then we relaxed and even (every quietly) chatted just a bit.

After hearing about 350 names, I saw the line of 8th graders coming to an end. (See picture above.) It jolted my memory of being at the end of the line with my fellow V’s. I grew up a Vansteenburg. I mentioned to my friend that those kids were me throughout my school career. There was usually a Vetch or a Zimmerman behind me so I was never the last kid.

We were talking about how the kids at the beginning of the alphabet had to pay attention at the beginning of an activity, and then could relax while the rest of the students took their turn. Those of us at the end of the alphabet didn’t always catch the directions, but could watch the kids in front of us and know exactly what to do by the time it was our turn. I’m not sure what the kids in the middle of alphabet did.

Also there was a geographical aspect to last names in the classroom. Most teachers started assigning seats to students from the front of the classroom to the back, starting with the A’s then B’s and then everyone falling into place. This meant for me as a V that I was usually in the back left corner of the room. Again, the A’s and B’s needed to be a bit more attentive to action in the classroom than the V’s and W’s.

My friend mentioned that she grew up with a B last name, so she was always towards the beginning. She shared that recently she took her motorcycle license test. She was one of the last ones to take her test, and failed. The next time she took the test she made sure she was one of the first ones to test. Her belief is that the waiting made her nervous , she just wasn’t accustomed to waiting, she performed best when she went at the beginning. Just like she had been patterned to do from all her years in school.

Do you notice your attention or ability to wait is connected to your last name?

P.S. Just starting to wonder if there is a there a correlation in behavior between being an oldest, middle, or youngest kid, to your last name being at the beginning, middle, or end of the alphabet. Oldest kids tent to be more attentive, like the A’s and B’s. Youngest kids tend to get away with more, and do a lot of watching the older kids, like the V-Z’s.