REALiving Magazine

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While playing in a park with my nearly 2-year-old grandson, we hung on the monkey bars, swung, slid down the slides, played the bongos and xylophone, and walked on the balance beam. With each adventure, my heart would thump with fear as this little boy would try to show his independence with difficult and dangerous playground skills. Then, when he proved his independence with the skill, my heart would swell with pride and I’d calm down. The worry and fear followed by relief continued the entire time we played. After only 15 minutes, I was so tired I could barely chase him around! Later that day, I contemplated the situation. Why did my grandson so adamantly want to be independent and not accept my help to accomplish those obviously dangerous skills that he had not yet mastered? What is it that constantly pushes us to achieve goals and feel successful or not? And, does feeling successful make us happy? It seems like society encourages us to set our sights on an accomplishment, customize a plan to achieve it, and then get after it. The work is often stressful, complicated, and difficult, yet we continue on in order to achieve our goals, which put us on the path to BESTness. Then, once we do achieve it, instead of resting, we usually set another objective for ourselves that is even more stressful, complicated, and difficult. It dawned on me that it’s rarely about just achieving one thing for us to feel success. We’re constantly pushing ourselves to accomplish new tasks, gain new skills, and add to our library of knowledge. Our self-esteem and self-concept is dependent upon our achievements. It is apparent that human nature pushes us to accomplish things and then set the bar higher, so that we never get to the other side of that bar, where we’ll find success and happiness, otherwise known as your BEST. In the book The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor describes his philosophy of achieving success by paying attention to your happiness. He believes happiness does not come from success, but just the opposite. If you are happy, then you can be more successful. He urges that you are more likely to achieve success when your brain is “happy”

than when it is “negative or neutral.” Therefore, to achieve a happiness advantage, you must maintain positivity and happiness. Success will follow. Positivity, in today’s environment, is challenging but not impossible. It’s something you can learn and enhance. It’s a state of mind that encourages optimism, positive emotions, and behaviors (e.g., kindness, generosity, forgiveness). When I think about my grandson and his wish to achieve things independently, I realize that positivity is crucial to his success. He’s inherently positive. He has no barriers preventing him from thinking he can do something. He truly believes he can accomplish what’s placed in front of him. When he fails, it hurts or disappoints, but only for a few seconds. Then it’s over. The failure and experience fuels his confidence for the next thing. He celebrates achievements hard. His positivity never wanes. He is much more likely to succeed at things because he thinks he can. He does not have the years of experience with society and human nature to curb his positivity. He has the happiness advantage. Unfortunately, as adults we do have the years of experience with society and human nature to curb our positivity. Therefore, we have to work extra hard to gain the happiness advantage. According to Shawn Achor, there are seven takeaways from his research on The Happiness Advantage: • Focus on positives. • Happiness comes before success. • Turn negatives into positives. • Take control and keep control. • Willpower is not enough. • Social support is necessary. • Happiness spreads happiness. There are activities you can practice in each of those seven areas to try and obtain the happiness advantage. As you work toward accomplishing your milestones, think about where your brain is. Positive? Negative? Neutral? Do you believe that happiness promotes success? If so, what areas can you work on to improve your happiness and gain that advantage? Perhaps you’re already there! Wherever you are, remind yourself often that you can. Find that inner 2-year-old perspective and push yourself toward happiness. Success will automatically follow, and you’ll know you’re on the path toward your BEST self.

How do you navigate your ship out of rough waters? Through strong leadership, experience, and a whole lot of trust! If you want a wellfunctioning crew (or team, as the case may be), then trust is a necessary ingredient. It requires hard work and team members to take part. In the end, it cultivates a healthy and empowering workplace. shares five reasons that trust is essential in teamwork: 1. Trust builds psychological safety. If you know from working with team members that they won’t mock, embarrass, or punish you in some way as you interact, you are more likely to engage and participate at work. 2. Trust encourages questioning. Do you fear “rocking the boat” by asking questions? Or are you the type of leader who discourages asking questions? The reality is, questioning often leads to better decision making, enhanced results, and valuable clarification of communication. As Dana Brownlee writes in her Forbes article, “Trust isn’t just a feel good commodity—it directly impacts output quality.” 3. Trust creates goodwill and minimizes miscommunications. Remember in REALiving’s June Wellness Newsletter that the communication process includes decoding— the interpretation of the message. That means the message is being filtered through another person’s perspective. Two people may receive the same message and interpret it differently. Trust provides a “shield of goodwill,” as Brownlee puts it, so that misinterpretation doesn’t lead to hostile comebacks and strained relationships. 4. Trust encourages innovation and rapid decision-making. An environment with a high level of trust enables teams to take risks and move more quickly because they can assume positive intent. 5. Trust enhances morale. We’ve all seen work environments where morale is low. It’s like the song goes, “Everybody’s working for the weekend.” No one really cares about the quality of services or product when they don’t feel good, don’t feel trusted, or don’t trust others. When leadership demonstrates trust in their employees, and when you

personally act in a trustworthy way so that others can depend on you, morale becomes more positive. Here are some mistakes people make that erode trust: • Avoiding conflict. Addressing conflict promptly rather than avoiding it demonstrates a desire to hear other ideas and opinions and provides an opportunity to clarify purpose, procedures, and expectations. Failing to address conflict can leave people wondering. • Breaking promises. Be careful about promising things you may not be able to follow through on. Breaking a promise can cause others to question your commitment. • Focusing on compliance. Layers of rigid rules can feel like micromanagement and mistrust. Share the end goal and trust people to get there. • Failing to communicate. Being honest (even when the news isn’t good) and sharing information regularly can keep people from making up their own stories about what’s happening. • Assuming trust. Trust is earned and reciprocal. Show others you trust them and work toward good working relationships with others. The Trust Edge Leadership Institute shares these key qualities to focus on in order to develop trust: • Clarity. Provide a clear vision and role for team members. • Compassion. Leaders who care inspire trust. • Character. Choose to do what’s right. • Competency. Stay fresh, relevant, and capable. • Commitment. Stick with employees in the face of adversity and they’ll do the same for you. • Connection. Cultivate strong relationships. Find common ground. • Contribution. Produce results. • Consistency. What we do all the time shapes the expectations others have of us. Don’t miss your opportunity to improve relationships, morale, and productivity at work. All that is needed is a willingness to believe in the BEST of yourself and others!

As the day-to-day stressors in our careers accumulate, we often react with two common responses: zoning out or obsessing. Our human nature wants to protect us from the stress load, and these ways of coping are tempting—even if they are not very effective. Katharine Brooks, Ed.D., blogging on Psychology Today, says that writing (in a structured way) can help emotions surface, help solutions to become more available, and help open you to the intelligent voice within you. Brooks offers some ideas about making these writing exercises more effective. First, pick the medium you prefer (paper and pen or keyboard), keep it private, and don’t censor yourself as you write. Look at your writing exercise in the following areas (to name a few): situations, people-centered problems, job dissatisfaction/lack of meaning, strengths, and dreaming.

Situations—an event or sequence of events that has been troubling. • Write down what happened and name your feelings (it’s important to not forget this part). • Put the piece away and write about it again the next day (no looking back). • Repeat for 3-5 days. • Then reread all of your entries and look for what’s changed. Is there more clarity? Are your emotions different? Have solutions begun to emerge? People-centered problems—those tensions or conflicts that seem to get in the way of your productivity and drain you emotionally. •

• •

Again, write about the situation, including your feelings. Avoid just “mad, sad, or glad” and name other feelings to really look at all the ways this is impacting you. Repeat for 3-5 days. Now write about the situation from the other person’s perspective and compare what comes up. This can be challenging and requires that you suspend judgments you might be carrying about the other person. Are there different feelings or different solutions emerging?

Job satisfaction or lack of meaning in your work— you’ve found yourself wondering if you’re in the right place or questioning if your work matters. • Write about how you are living out the values you hold in life through your work. It may help to first list some value words that matter to you—integrity, passion, resilience, usefulness, honesty, to name just a few. • Name the ways that your work is not supporting these values. • What aspects of your work, or your contributions, need strengthening to align WHAT you do with what matters to you? What is working—even in the most stressful times it is good to focus on your strengths. • For 3-5 days, write about what went well that day. • Include all the ways that you brought your BEST self to your work and how that contributed to your good day(s). Dreaming—a safe way to escape that can also create new ways of thinking, creative ideas, better energy, and calm. Just like daydreaming of the sandy beach and warm air during a blustery winter day can bring calm, daydreaming about your ideal job can allow you to see things that may be getting obscured amidst the stress. • Write down the details of your ideal job, what it feels like to be there, how you are behaving differently, and how others might be seeing you. • Look for the clues on changes that you might bring into your present-day setting (e.g., how you might be communicating differently), and rate the level of your confidence. These writing exercises may seem challenging or just more stress on top of what you’re already dealing with. But they have real power to heal, reduce stress, open you to new possibilities, and let you see more clearly the strengths you bring to your work. It’s like looking out a window in your house that you rarely check and discovering a wonderful new view you never knew existed.

What is a milestone? “A milestone is a point in time that marks the end of a phase.” As a psychic medium and intuitive certified coach, I often discuss with my clients the importance of being mindful of repeating cycles that prevent healing and growth. Why is this important? Well, when we are presented in our personal and professional life with similar types of situations, experiences, or individuals that trigger us in a negative manner, then we continue to feel “stuck.” So how do you break cycles to meet that milestone?


Your vibrational energy can be adjusted through changing the way you feel, think, or act. Energy vibrating at a lower frequency can feel heavy, dark, and even confusing. Higher frequency vibration can make you feel happier, lighter, and more at ease. Self-care is important. Having healthy boundaries in your personal and professional life is imperative. Having YOU time is not selfish. Here are some things that can raise your energetic vibrations: • Being outside in nature. • Connecting to your higher self with meditation, yoga, or speaking with your spirit team, such as angels and spirit guides. Whatever allows you to quiet your mind and “see and hear” with your senses instead of your human mind and ego. • Owning and using your intuitive and human gifts that are innately you while grounding, protecting, and shielding yourself is also a great way to connect within! • Speaking your truth. Connect with a mental and/ or spiritual (religion-based or intuitive-based) counselor and/or intuitive coach to speak freely. • Making it a priority to have adequate sleep. • Limiting situations, events and experiences that are negative and low vibration, such as the news, social media, toxic individuals (family, friends, coworkers … anyone who drains you energetically).

BE MINDFUL OF WHAT IS TRIGGERING YOU If a person, situation and/or experience is causing you to feel less than, you are likely in a cycle that is occurring (or reoccurring) for a reason. While it may not feel great, it’s happening to wake you up so that you can heal that part of yourself.

For instance, have you had multiple “bad” relationships? “Bad” things happen to you that are different yet similar and it feels like you just cannot catch a break? These are examples of cycles that will continue to repeat and trigger you mentally and emotionally until you do the work for healing. Being triggered can bring about the emotions of feeling sad, stuck, angry, frustrated, disconnected, lonely, you name it—not good feelings for a reason! Be mindful of these cycles and remove that from your life which is causing your lack of growth. You also need to keep healthy boundaries in place to stand your ground no matter the situation or person. This will give you the safe space you need for healing and breaking the negative cycles. Going to say it again: speaking freely with a counselor and/or intuitive coach is a great way to not only “see” the cycles, but to work through them by discussing healthy tools for healing. This allows for growth, which then means you have leveled up and BOOM, hit another milestone. Look at you healing and growing and stuff! Nicely done! Moving forward, ask yourself these questions: • What milestone do I want to achieve? • What cycle do I want to end for growth? • What human and intuitive gifts do I have that can help in my journey? • Am I ready to level up and end a phase? • Am I confident and feeling worthy of this growth? • What mental blocks do I have that may be limiting my ability to break a negative pattern? • Am I willing to work on ME? As you learn to break negative cycles, heal, and grow, be gentle, kind and proud of yourself. YOU did it! No one else has achieved this milestone for you. YOU did by doing one thing different, being your BEST, and knowing you are pretty darn spectacular!

32 Fall 2022

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School District of Altoona “Home of the Railroaders”

“Offering large school opportunities with a small school approach.”






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. 1986

Why Choose Us . •


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The School District of Altoona is a school district with dedicated staff and students as well as supportive parent and community partners. The district sets high expectations for our students and staff and strives to improve each year to prepare our students to be successful now and in the future.



About Us .

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On the shores of Lake Waubesa, more than 2300 students call McFarland School District home.

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