The Brick Magazine - February 2020

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Steiner School


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Publisher • Sarah Whitsett

Assistant to the Publisher • Tanja MacKenzie

Art Director • Jennifer Knutson

Copy Editor • Angelina Bielby

Marketing Director • Steve DeBruler

Online Creative • Bridget Baker Cover Photographer • Jessica Gliesman

Contributors >>

<< Fredi Baker Gail Barker Monica Brancheau Liz Crowe


Morella Devost Kristen Domingue Beth Johnston Kellie Mox

Marilyn Pellini Jan Pringle Lisa Profera Maria Sylvester

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THE BRICK MAGAZINE makes every effort to provide accurate information in advertising, editorial content and placement; however, we cannot make any claims as to the accuracy of information provided by advertisers or editorial contributors and will accept no responsibility or liability for inaccurate information or placement. No content can be duplicated without the permission of The Brick Magazine, LLC 6 | The Brick Magazine


Is It Love? Or Is It the Bourbon?


Growing Bigger Minds at Steiner School


Travel Is the Best Education


For Personal & Planetary Thriving Balancing Sandpaper Goals & Fluffy Vision-Boards


Listen, Let Go, and Learn in Relationships


Goal-Setting that Resonates with You


Learning Is the Goal


It's Never Too Late


No Silver Bowl for Me


Be That Person


A New Style of Parenting


Is There a Safe Vape?

“If it excites you and scares you at the same time, it probably means you should do it.� looking for the perfect gift for yourself or someone else? Specializing in Boudoir, Maternity and Modern Headshots 320 s main street plymouth, mi 48170 248.291.7704 @vavavoomboudoir

Welcome to Booze 101 with


Is It Love? Or Is It the Bourbon?

by Liz Crowe Photo by Tim Krauss

8 | The Brick Magazine


h bourbon…there you are. Come here. Let me hold you.

We’re socked into one of my least favorite months, when the nights last forever, the sun hides more than it shines, the holidays are totally over, and taxes are almost due. Or, as I like to refer to it: brown liquor season. When the bourbon comes out, drinking means business. Tequila might make your clothes fall off, but bourbon only does that after you’ve been mistaken for a diva at some nightclub and you’ve danced on at least one table. You might be naked and on the express train headed for Hangover City, but it was classy. It’s a much misunderstood libation, bourbon. There are some rules around it. Horses don’t drink it, but you drink it while you’re watching them… Alright, let me back up a minute. First off, “bourbon” is a specific type of distilled brown liquor. Its mash (the base from which it is distilled) must be made up at least 51% corn, which gives it that distinctive — for lack of a better term — “whang.” That sort of slam into your taste buds and throat that some folks never really get used to, or care for very much. That’s okay. I have the same reaction to Scotch whiskey — which always tastes to me like I’m sipping the liquid distilled off a smoking peat bog. Bourbon is not bourbon if it’s being aged in a barrel that’s not charred. Nor is it bourbon if that charred barrel has already been used once. If you’re enjoying the latest and greatest bourbon whiskey from Ireland, or Japan, or wherever, you’ve been had. By law, bourbon is a distinctive product of the United States of America. But NOT just Kentucky, as much as we native Kentuckians like to make that bourbon-snob claim. Kentucky was, many argue, where it began. Is was the result of a perfect storm of way too much corn, the soft, limestone filtered water in Kentucky, and a bunch of Pennsylvanians looking to avoid the Whiskey Excise Tax. A lot of familiar names abound when you dig into the history — Evan Williams (opened the first commercial distillery) and the Reverand Elijah Craig (came up with the concept

of the charred barrel aging) being a couple you might recognize from your last trip to the liquor store. The one other rule about bourbon is this: it can contain no additives. So in order to make a particular bourbon stand out from the crowd, the distiller can’t just toss in some spices, or blueberries, or any other weirdness. The differences are made at the basic ingredient level. A traditional bourbon is 70% or so corn, the rest equal parts rye and barley. This gives you sweetness and spice (some Famous Commercial Examples (FCEs): Jim Beam, Wild Turkey). In wheat bourbon, wheat replaces the rye, which makes the final liquid much smoother, less likely to heat your chest once you swallow it (FCEs: Maker’s Mark, Old Fitz). Rye (sometimes called “high rye”) bourbon is the “burniest” of all the options, and uses less corn, almost no barley, and double the rye. Make no mistake, this one has bite (FCEs: Basil Haydon — yours truly’s absolute fav; Woodford Reserve, Bulleit. FCE Note: another one called Whistle Pig is a fairly new rye brand from Vermont. It’s pricey. And worth every dang penny). But let’s not do history or any more factoids, shall we not? Let’s do some chocolate with our bourbon. In order to do so properly, I reached out to one of my favorite experts, Aaron Goldfarb, booze columnist for Esquire, PUNCH, and many others. He’s also written a couple of awesome books about brown liquor and cocktails in general. More on that in a minute. Let’s get some pairings going, because “Valentine’s Day” and all that. As with most booze and food pairings, there are no hard and fast rules. But there are some guidelines, and Aaron and I are here to guide you through this one. Like wine and beer, some types of bourbons are going to complement or contrast with certain chocolates in ways that will make that whole Ratatouille thing happen in your mouth again (you know what I’m talking about, don’t pretend like you don’t). I’ve got Aaron’s brown liquor and chocolate tasting chart with specific commercial examples, and will add my own after each entry. Ready? Set? Drink…

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Photo by Thomas Park

Milk chocolate — Uncle Nearest 1856 This new-ish Tennessee whiskey brand not only offers strong chocolate notes itself, but hints of berries, nuts, and buttered pecans. It’s a candy bar of a whiskey already, and a perfect pairing.

Liz says: try something spicy to contrast the smoothness — maybe a Bulleit 10 Year? Or even my previously stated favorite, Mr. B. Haydon. Dark chocolate — The GlenDronach Original (12 Years Old) This Highlands single malt is matured in Spanish sherry barrels (Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso), which I find leads to some really creamy, dark chocolate notes, along with hints of raisins, cherries, and spice. A perfect after-dinner pairing with dark chocolate.

Liz says: Definitely want to crack that wax off a bottle of Maker’s Mark for this one. Salted caramel chocolate — Old Forester 1920 This “prohibition-style” bourbon is rich with notes of caramel, toffee, and even crème brûlée. Be careful though — it goes down easy despite being 57.5%!

Liz says: Liz approves. But watch out — keep your clothes on for this one! 10 | The Brick Magazine

Peanut butter chocolate (peanut butter cups or whatever) — Booker’s Bourbon The intense peanut butter notes in this Jim Beam small batch product pair perfectly with peanut butter cups. The high proof of the Booker’s assures that Valentine’s Day is not going to last deep into the night!

Liz says: I still have a bottle of Booker’s from Christmas, and it’s by golly time to break out the Reese’s Cups from Halloween right about now. White chocolate — New Riff Straight Rye Whiskey Since white chocolate is so buttery, you need something drier and a bit more aggressive to cut through it. This four-year-old bonded rye from one of Kentucky’s newest distilleries is perfect — intense notes of cinnamon and other baking spices elevate the white chocolate.

Liz says: I love it when Aaron tosses out something I’ve never heard of (and now have to go find). Sounds like a great excuse for a trip home to Louisville! A few bourbon chocolate tangents for your Valentine’s Day/Month reading pleasure: A pie made with pecans, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and a couple or more tablespoons of bourbon is called a “Derby Pie.” Some people make it with walnuts and call it “nutty chocolate bourbon pie.” This is blasphemy. It’s best

served with freshly whipped cream infused with (you guessed it) more bourbon. I tried a couple of different bourbon ball recipes this past Christmas and kept about a half dozen of each to age so we can enjoy them on Valentine’s Day. I like the one that had me soak the chocolate chips in the bourbon for a day (I did it for 3 days…because why not?). If you are going to make these and give them as gifts, note that they must age at least three weeks (five or six is better). If you want to combine the bourbon and chocolate into a drink and not a dessert, I found this recipe and tried it out a couple of times (okay, three times) with very happy results. Fill a rocks glass with ice, then add: – 2 dashes chocolate bitters (Fee Brother’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters from Plum Market) – 2 dashes cherry bitters (Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters from last year’s Christmas stocking, but I found them online too) – 1 oz simple syrup – 2 oz bourbon (I’d go with something spicy, but I think we’ve well established that is where my palate lies with this stuff. I made this with Woodford Reserve the first time, and I’d give it 4 stars. The 5-star version was made

with something else I got in my stocking (yes, my family knows me). The most amazingly balanced traditional bourbon I’ve had in a while — Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel.) Stir with care and love, sprinkle with grated dark chocolate, and garnish with a chocolate-covered cherry (suggestion: Imperial Chocolate Covered Cherries from Cherry Republic). Go on. Give “America’s Spirit” a shot — I mean, uh, a try, this Valentine’s Day. Keep your clothes. Or not. We’re all grown-ups here. Oh, and you must read Aaron Goldfarb’s books, Hacking Whiskey and his latest Gather Around Cocktails. If you want to watch something super entertaining (and female empowering vis-a-vis distilling), be sure and catch “NEAT. The Story of Bourbon,” on Hulu. Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, brewery founder, craft beer marketing consultant, and avid sports fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales, public relations, and fundraising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse, all of which provide ongoing idea fodder for novels and other projects. (fan page)

Photo by Matt Hoffman

February 2020 | 11

Photo by Jessica Gliesman

12 | The Brick Magazine

Growing Bigger Minds at Steiner School by Kristen Domingue When we spoke with the teachers at Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor, we were pleasantly surprised to meet teachers who were deeply nourished by their work instead of burned out by overwhelming bureaucracy. The love and joy they possess for what they do showed so vibrantly in the conversation—it was contagious. This interview left us inspired and hopeful about the future of education and the possibilities for Steiner graduates as one of the largest independent school movements in the world. In a moment when America’s school systems are so deeply challenged by problems such as school board politics and new threats to child safety, this interview was a reminder of what it’s like when things are working well.

Background note from the Wikipedia entry on Waldorf education and how the school received its name: “The first Waldorf School was opened in 1919 in response to a request from Emil Molt, the owner and managing director of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stuttgart, Germany. This is the source of the name Waldorf, which is now trademarked in some countries when used in connection with the overall method that grew out of this original Waldorf school.”

What draws a teacher to a Steiner School? Wendy: I always knew I wanted to work with young children, but I didn't know how I wanted to approach that. At first I thought maybe nursing was what I should do, but then I realized that the idea of sick children might be a little too difficult emotionally for me. So, I decided to become a kindergarten teacher. I had fond memories of kindergarten; when I was in grade school, I would often skip recess to go read to the kindergarteners. I started moving toward a degree in education. At the time, a friend of mine gave me a pamphlet for the Waldorf Teacher Development Association. She just handed it to me and said, “This is you.” I connected with their teachers and took courses for early childhood education, and I haven't looked back.

I was already intrigued by the way they educated students holistically. One of the aspects that inspired me, however, was that Waldorf schools are independent; that means there’s freedom in the curriculum without any interference from the government dictating what students should learn and how they learn it. The school’s unique way of governing was also of great interest to me. The school is governed by both faculty and parents; this creates a special cooperation within the community, leaving plenty of space for the children to be held at its center. All of this combined allows for a tremendous amount of continual growth as a teacher, a colleague, and as a human being. Maria: I studied art and music in Costa Rica and worked with at-risk children. Even though I loved the work, it was mostly centered around music, and there was something February 2020 | 13

lacking for me in that approach. I wanted to work with the students in a more interdisciplinary fashion. While our program was a great musical education program, it didn’t allow for that kind of flexibility. Eventually, I began teaching at a Waldorf-inspired school, and when my husband and I moved to Ann Arbor, I came to the Steiner School. Because we were encouraged to teach the curriculum with an interdisciplinary approach—to bring together literature, language, history, math, science, and art—I knew this was where I was supposed to be. Erica: I was drawn to this school because I get to be a real human being and I get to be honest. I can be authentic and I’m allowed to care about my students. I could not do this job if I wasn't allowed to genuinely and deeply care about them. My friends who are public school teachers aren't allowed to connect with their students in the same way I can. My students that have graduated are still friends of mine; I know their families and feel like I'm a part of them. It’s not an assigned relationship that ends with graduation; it continues after they’ve graduated and become adults. The second major thing that drew me was the more engaged way of learning. At traditional schools, you're

required to have students memorize a bunch of facts. When I look at this world, the facts that I memorized when I was in college aren't even true anymore. The traditional model creates a world filled with people who can memorize, but not think—what kind of world is that? The Waldorf science curriculum requires a student to engage. I feel like I'm helping develop a group of human beings who can look at what's happening in the world and actually think for themselves about how they want to form it. They can understand what’s going on and be able to make a plan of action to address it, rather than be paralyzed and say, “I never learned that in school.” The final thing about the curriculum that thrills me is that I'm not required to teach scientific paradigms that we know as a scientific community are outdated and wrong. We have a lag time of about ten years between what’s going on in the scientific community and what the textbooks say. Here, I'm allowed and required to update what is taught every year to align with the current scientific data. This is critical.

How is Steiner School different? Maria: One of the things that makes our classrooms and schools unique is that as grade-school teachers, we move

Photo by Jessica Gliesman

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with our class from grade level to grade level. We have to study a lot to learn a new curriculum every year. I am constantly studying, reading, and learning, imagining new ways to bring information from across disciplines together into a cohesive narrative. For example, there may be subject matter that was initiated in fifth grade, and then I reintroduce it to them in the seventh grade to teach more detailed information and deepen their knowledge. My job is to anchor the information in concepts and historical storylines with which they are already familiar. This allows them to integrate complex ideas in more rational ways as they draw the connections between what they previously learned and what they are learning now. It's intrinsic to the curriculum that we bring all of their core subjects together into one narrative that is logical and enjoyable for the children. I always sought a school where the disciplines aren't separated. I believe that when children are brought up with the idea that everything is connected, they begin to see the world as a whole rather than sorting reality

into neat boxes. This gives them the ability to think creatively and critically in their later years, and be more able to see connections and willing and wanting to make these connections themselves across cultures, languages, etc. We plant the seeds in the early grades, which are then more clearly cultivated in the upper grades. These connections become especially valuable in middle school and high school as they begin to develop their critical thinking skills. Because this is our goal, the curriculum is structured developmentally. We have a curriculum that serves the child where they are not only according to their age, but where they are physically, emotionally, and mentally. The curriculum is living and dynamic, it's not stagnant. It's not from a book that has been unchanged for many years. There are themes and narrative arcs that ground the different subjects for that grade level. The teacher's responsibility is to maintain the essential information and constantly reevaluate how to share the new information that is appropriate for the next developmental stage of the children in front of us. We also evaluate what’s happening in the world and convey that to them in a way that is age-appropriate to share.

Photo by Jessica Gliesman

For example, in fifth grade, we start with ancient cultures— Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and ancient Greece. In sixth grade, we move into discussion about the Romans and the Middle Ages. Developmentally, the sixth grader is in a very tumultuous time emotionally and physically with the sudden onset of puberty, eager to discover who they are as individuals and explore beyond their known world. There is so much growth and movement throughout all of European history; this resonates with what is happening in the children’s lives at that moment in time.

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Photo by Jessica Gliesman

Erica: When I look at the students and the curriculum, I can see that at the high school level, we're doing graduate-level work; we're training people how to think independently and be scientists rather than just memorizers. A key skill in our science curriculum is observation, which should be true for every science curriculum. One of the ways that science and art come together is that new knowledge comes from careful observation—through observational drawing of a scientific phenomenon in addition to just reading about it. We are constantly trying to find these ways of connecting various subject matters and previously-developed skill sets. Another difference in our curriculum is that we study every discipline of science each year rather than one discipline for each grade. In many school systems, you only study biology in ninth grade, so you only have a ninth-grade understanding of biology. But you're not a fully sophisticated adult in ninth grade. At Steiner, students have a mature and nuanced understanding of all the different fields of scientific study, not just a memorized list of facts like “The kidney does this, the liver does that.” By the time they're in twelfth grade, they're studying biochemistry and looking at gene regulation and the environment; they're learning ecology and applying all of

16 | The Brick Magazine

their previously-learned concepts to this broader picture. They’ve had all these stepping stones from kindergarten, grade school, middle school, and through the three years of high school that lead up to senior year. In twelfth grade, they have a phenomenal explosion of epiphanies as they are fully seeing a much bigger picture of our world. It breaks my heart to think that someone would only know biology from a ninth-grade lens, and only in a biology classroom. Instead, in our way of teaching, one subject is embedded in all of the other subjects. It's everything, all the time. We also make it a point to not tell them what to think. In the science class, instead of me telling them what they’re learning, they have an experience and I ask them what they learned. When I was in school, the teacher would say, “Today we're going to do a lab about this subject, and this is what it's going to tell you.” Then you would do the lab, and because the teacher told us what it was supposed to tell us, we would write that on the exam. Then we all moved on to the next subject. Here, I don't tell them what they're going to learn. They have to read the lab instructions the night before so that they have the techniques and they can be safe. Then they do the lab or

they see the demonstration. The next day, we review what we did. It’s so important to practice remembering what you did and being able to articulate it. As we know, nowadays people can tell you that something happened and everybody believes it, even if it’s not at all true. So, you have to repeat what happened. I ask the students, “What did you see? Did we all see the same thing?” Because collectively, they never see exactly the same thing; we synthesize the information and discuss what we learned from this laboratory experience. It's my job as a teacher to make sure they're absorbing all of the things that they need to learn, and to ensure that the information comes through their own observation instead of me dictating it to them. Here, we are intentionally cultivating minds that think. They remember what they learned by discovering it rather than by memorizing it for a test and then forgetting it because it has no relevant context. As a teacher, I watch the students go through the process; as a mom, I watch my own child go through it, and I have another level of gratitude as I see the brilliance of this form of education. As a mother, there are so many healthy components of a well-rounded education that I so badly want for my children. I want them to get exercise, eat healthy, do something musical, and do something creative just by going to school every day. Here, they actually have all of the things every mother wants to check off each day for their kids. It’s a dream come true. As I watch the curriculum blossom in my own child, I can see it's a genius process. We're pretty lucky here in Ann Arbor because we have a Steiner kindergarten and preschool, so a child can start at the beginning and go all the way through to high school, which is very unusual.

How are the students different? Wendy: Personally, I just love early childhood. When you come to school every single day, and these little ones see you and they embrace you like they haven't seen you in years when you just saw them yesterday—it's endearing, authentic, true, and full of beauty. Every morning, these children are ready to go outside and play, observe, and learn for at least an hour before we even step foot in the classroom. They are hardy, inquisitive and imaginative! They’re allowed to be that way here, to be themselves and to laugh and express. They are encouraged to be exactly the way they are. There's no other place I'd rather be. I often walk through these halls when classes are in session and I can hear the children singing, teachers teaching, and the kindergarteners laughing, and I just think how lucky I am to teach in a place where children can act the way they naturally act and learn the way they naturally learn.

Erica: The thing that has always struck me is that the twelfth graders are the most healthy, balanced, interesting, inspired, and capable human beings I'd ever met in my life. It excites me to see that this is who my tenth-grade daughter is becoming. In grade school, she learned about all the religions and all kinds of cultural origin stories. As she went through the grades and then into high school, her understanding of these different world cultures reached a much deeper level. Her understanding is richer than anything I understand as an adult, because I don't understand that religion or I don't know what the people from that area believed or thought. Very often when political events happen the way they do in the world, I'm curious about why; my daughter, as a tenth grader, will hear something on the news and explain it to me because she'll have the whole backstory on the people and the land. My daughter has been taught to think and pull together all of that knowledge she learned throughout the whole curriculum and think on a more complex level than I can about world politics. It's phenomenal. As a mother and an adult, even though I'm avidly trying to grow and think all the time, she has a deeper capacity in the humanities than I do, all because of this education. This just makes me thrilled! Being taught how to think as early as possible makes all the difference.

The great gift of speaking with the teachers from Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor was seeing that in education, we have choices. We loved hearing how a different approach can support children in not just learning, but also thinking in broader yet integrated ways. While they are certainly learning all of the basic skills and information that all children learn for their grade level, they are also learning how to adapt and integrate the dynamism of a rapidly changing world. Who could ask for a better approach to life in such transformative times?

To find out if Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor is right for your family, visit us at or call Janine Huber at 734-669-9394. Kristen M. Domingue is a copywriter and content marketing consultant in the New York City area. When she’s not delivering on client projects, you can find her cooking up something gluten-free or in an internet rabbit hole on entrepreneurship or astrology.

February 2020 | 17

Travel Is the Best Education

by Beth Johnston 18 | The Brick Magazine

“I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list.”

– Susan Sontag


am a firm believer in learning and education. Both of my parents were educators, and I followed in their footsteps. I always wanted to be a teacher, and I loved children; I was the kid who played school growing up.

traveling. After a short stint in a travel agency as the owner’s gopher, not making enough money to live on, I began bartending. Talk about getting an education!

It was only natural that I began my college education at Michigan State in elementary education. Some of my college professors at the time (in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s) told me there were no teaching jobs available. The industry was saturated. I began to rethink my career path; I mean, who wants to go to school only to get out and not be able to find a job?

Long story short, I became a bartending trainer for Bennigan’s restaurant chain. I was quite good at it, and one day someone said, “Have you ever thought about being a teacher? You’d be great at it.” It’s funny how what goes around, comes around. I ended up enrolling at the University of Michigan, completing my elementary teaching certificate and then going on to get my master’s degree in Educational Leadership at EMU. I ended up with a 30-year career in the public schools in Ann Arbor and Pinckney.

Another passion of mine was travel. So, I switched to the College of Business in the Hospitality School and ended up with an undergrad degree in Travel & Tourism. Alas, the thing I was trying to avoid when I switched majors ended up happening anyway. There was a recession when I graduated from college, and people were not

Classrooms with teachers, friends, and books are our society’s definition of education. But I know that some of the best learning happens in the real world, especially while traveling. The lessons you learn while traveling are timeless. Here are a few reasons why travel is the best education. February 2020 | 19

Explore History It’s one thing to read about the Great Wall of China or the pyramids of Egypt, but seeing them in person takes it to a whole new level. American schools teach history that is often skewed with a Western perspective. Traveling to see actual historical landmarks makes the real story come to life. Talk to some locals, and you begin to understand history from more than one perspective. Those I know who have traveled to Normandy or Auschwitz came away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of their historical significance. I remember when I visited the Berlin Wall in 1980, and we made the trip to East Berlin. The differences between West Berlin and East Berlin were startling. That visit taught me so much more than any textbook ever could. When we understand another culture’s history and perspective, it helps us also understand their politics, motivations, and social habits. These types of life lessons are invaluable.

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Embrace Cultural Differences and Similarities When you travel to other countries, or even different parts of your own country, you encounter people and communities that live differently than you do. You naturally learn to embrace the similarities as you notice them. Differences in language, religion, social expectations, cuisine, manners, living quarters, and lifestyles are visible when we visit other countries. We learn that the world is a big place and our way of life is not the only way. As we discover other ways of living, we value our similarities as humans. This healthy cultural exchange breaks down barriers and creates a common ground for communication and mutual empathy. We become better global citizens.

Discover Nature Getting outside and discovering the natural wonders of

the world teaches us how beautiful and majestic our world is. Pictures often don’t do it justice. How could you adequately explain the wonder of the Grand Canyon, or the thrill of discovering one of the big five on safari? Children are naturally drawn to nature, and the best way to learn about the delicate balance of life is to visit different ecosystems. Only then do issues like climate change, global warming, and pollution become real. Knowing exactly what we could lose might motivate us to make significant changes. Seeing is believing!

Gain Independence and Improve Social Skills Academics are just a small part of a complete education. Becoming more independent, learning to improvise, and conquering fears are just as valuable — if not more. Communication is essential to becoming a contributing member of society. Many people are afraid to talk to other people; some people are extremely shy. Traveling, especially on your own, helps you become more confident. Asking for directions or approaching strangers to request a favor is often a necessity. Independence is one of the goals of education. The very

act of traveling is often a test of one’s patience, will, and determination. You are often put in situations that test you, and when you get through that experience you are stronger, braver, and more determined than you were before. Traveling has the power to teach you financial, intellectual, and emotional independence. I believe that travel requires an open mind and heart. Getting away from your day-to-day routine gives you a new perspective of yourself and forces you outside of your familiar bubble, so that you can transform who you are and where your life will lead you. Beth was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI and currently resides in Pinckney. She is a retired elementary educator from Ann Arbor Public Schools (13 years) and Pinckney Community Schools (17 years). She is married to her husband Dan, and has three sons from her first marriage (ages 30, 28 & 25), a daughter-in-law with a grandbaby on the way, and three step-children. Orenda Travel was founded by Beth Johnston, a luxury travel specialist who believes travel holds the unique ability to change lives. Our custom-crafted itineraries speak exclusively to families’ unique needs, passions, and sense of adventure.

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for personal

& planetary thriving

Balancing Sandpaper Goals & Fluffy Vision-Boards by Morella Devost, EdM, MA


any of us get caught between sandpaper goals and fluffy vision-boards.

We live chest-deep in a very yang (as in yin/yang,) very masculine, very goal-oriented culture. At the same time, a more yin, more feminine, more “go-with-the-flow” New Age attitude has been emerging. Neither extreme is healthy. On the masculine/yang end, we risk burnout. On the feminine/yin end, we risk never fulfilling our potential. So how do we find the right balance between goal-pursuit and allowing things to unfold? Between doing and being?

That work ethic served me well, until it didn’t. Throughout high school, college, and grad school, I was at the top of my class and graduated valedictorian in each one. In my jobs at Procter & Gamble and American Express, I was always top-rated and got juicy bonuses. But when I became an entrepreneur, the proverbial poop hit the fan! My project-management skills and ability to get the job done meant that I created fantastic programs for my clients. I even launched a corporate wellness business that generated great revenue. But with an endless stream of ideas and projects to complete, I ran myself into the ground.

This is a quest that has challenged me. In October 2017, while attending a business workshop hosted by Las Peregrinas, I told the group, “I am a genetic farmer.” Bred into me is the deep work ethic of my dairy-farming family. Grandpa’s saying, “The cows don’t know it’s Christmas,” illustrates my hard-wired, get-the-work-done determination. As a young girl, I loathed the gnawing of a chore waiting for me. I always got all of my homework done before going out to play. Work came first, fun second. 22 | The Brick Magazine

Burnout is the obvious consequence, but being good at getting-‘er-done often has a more nefarious side effect: the disconnection from our hearts. I was 24 years old when I realized I had no clue what I loved. I knew what work I hated, but I felt a deep despair at not knowing my heart or my passions. This is yang out of balance. Too much doing and not enough feeling.

Losing sight of what brings us joy is a fundamental source of mid-life crises. Far too many of us were raised with the drive and belief that excelling in school and work will translate into happiness. In the end, we might find ourselves very successful, but not necessarily happy. Sadly, many people are well into their forties, fifties, or nearing retirement when they realize the corporate ladder they climbed was leaning against the wrong wall.

is by nature more yin. If your goals emerge from your passions, then you have a recipe for success and immense joy in the achievement of your dreams.

Indeed, dogged goal-pursuit can lead us to success and lots of money in the bank, but it often comes at the expense of both burnout and profound emptiness. In order for achievement to lead to true joy and fulfillment, the goal must have a heavy dose of heart to begin with. That is, a lot of yin.

Think for a moment about how you conceive your goals — let’s say about weight loss or getting a job. Your goal might sound something like this: “lose ten pounds by June,” or “get five job interviews in the next three months.” These meet all of the SMART requirements, but do they engage your heart? Probably not. About as exciting as sandpaper.

Most goals emerge from the mind, which is inherently more yang. Passions are the domain of the heart, which

But even how we are told to set goals is divorced from the joys of the heart. Goals are supposed to be “SMART,” as in Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. That feels about as joyful and cozy as sandpaper.

Goals that tap your joy and passion might potentially

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sound more like this: “I will love feeling energized and strong when I fit into my hiking pants and get to the top of Mt. Mansfield in June.” Or for your job search, “I am excited to explore potential working relationships in the next three months with five companies that inspire me, where I can apply my greatest gifts.” Now, we also have to be careful to not slide down the New Age slippery slope when exploring the desires of the heart. In the age of the “law of attraction;” if you want something bad enough and you visualize it hard enough, it’s supposed to just pop into reality. All you have to do is stare at your vision board while you sip your Tulsi tea and smell your Nag-Champa incense. The dream home will magically appear; the new relationship will just manifest; the business will take off because “it’s the work you are meant to do.” This is yin out of balance. Too much heart and not enough mind. Too much being and not enough doing. As a Tulsi-addict and NagChampa devotee myself, my pendulum swung wildly from one extreme to the other. I went from relentless goal-pursuit and being a to-do list Nazi, to having no to-do

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list and exploring how to be “in the flow” from moment to moment. It was the product of complete burnout and deep losses in my life. But neither extreme is sustainable or effective. I cannot tell you that I have found the perfect balance between effort and allowing just yet, but I am living in these questions: “What if I can achieve my goals with greater ease, without burning myself out?”

For both personal and planetary thriving, we all need to tap into our heart’s longings and shape them into some form of goal. As we each achieve goals that bring us joy and fulfillment, we will positively influence and potentially benefit those around us. In our joy, we bring our greatest contributions and become a source of inspiration to others. What is the personal passion you can craft into a goal for yourself this year? May you succeed.

“How is this dance of co-creation with the universe supposed to go?” Of course the answer lies in balancing the heart and mind. Because having goals that excite the heart can make the work of achieving those goals feel like play. And when our work feels like play, we are not only unlikely to experience burnout, but we are also more likely to be present for the types of synchronicities through which manifestation occurs.

Morella Devost facilitates profound transformation for people who want to thrive in every aspect of life. After receiving two masters degrees in counseling from Columbia University, she also became a Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP facilitator, and Holistic Health Coach. Morella is a VenezuelanVermonter who works with people all over the world.

February 2020 | 25

Listen, Let Go, and Learn in Relationships by Fredi Baker


t’s been said that we teach people how to treat us. However, the advanced work comes from learning how to navigate what others are teaching us about how to treat them. Granted, it’s not always easy, especially when that person is someone we care deeply about; but the results can be amazing. 26 | The Brick Magazine

This is especially true when it comes to parent/child relationships. I’ve seen countless variations of these in my 20 years of being a professional coach. Sometimes it occurs as the child grows into their teen years, or as they prepare to leave for college, or for another adventure outside the parent’s view. It can happen years

later as well. The parent does the best they can, and the child also does what comes naturally, which is to mature and become independent from the old parenting style that no longer fits. Sometimes this dynamic plays out when we are in the role of parent, and other times when we are the child — no matter how old we happen to be.

advice myself. The exchange went something like this: “My two cents? It’s clear you love her and want her to be healthy and happy. You are such a kind, compassionate, and generous person, I can imagine how difficult it must be to feel like you created an uncomfortable tension. Truth be told, I can more than imagine it, since I’ve been in this spot a time or two myself. It wasn’t your intention to do anything hurtful, and your daughter’s interpretation of the situation was hers, not yours. “What you said or did was out of love, right? Sometimes relationships with our adult children can get messy. In fact, many moms (me included) might sometimes think of our children in the context of who they were, rather than who are today. For me, in spite of my best intentions, sometimes that maternal instinct kicks in; sometimes I see a six-year-old standing in front of me with skinned knees and tears running down her cheeks instead of the smart, wonderful, and very capable grown-up that my daughter is. That, too, is part of the process of letting go and learning. “Which is what you did by evaluating the interaction after she left and recognizing that you may have overreacted, as well as acknowledging what you did right. Also, know that you have the opportunity for a do-over the next time she comes for a visit. Recently, I wrote to a client who was struggling in the aftermath of an interaction she had with her twenty-something daughter who came home for a weekend visit. I could have said something similar to many other clients, whether they were the parent or the child. Truthfully, I could have taken the

“You asked me, ‘How much do I push?’ Great question. It brings up a couple more questions: How has pushing her worked in the past? How much are you able to let go of the outcome? And the bonus round one: what would happen if you trusted her and didn’t push at all?”

To me, the most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open. Honesty, compassion, empathy, love, and gratitude all help the process along. Sometimes, even if it’s the last thing family members mean to do, they hurt each other, for whatever reason. Be open and let go of the outcome if you can. Listen to the other person and give them space. Seth Godin offers some sage relationship advice: “When someone tells you what you need to hear instead of what you’re hoping to hear, you’ve found something priceless. This takes care, generosity, and guts to achieve. When you offer this gift to someone else, it might seem like it’s unappreciated. But you didn’t do it to be appreciated, you did it because you care enough to work for a deep connection, one that makes things better…” Whatever you do, when you do it with love and a kind heart, you can make a difference. True, there may be a learning curve for both people, but that’s what makes the learning so important. The question is, how willing are you to be open to learning as well as teaching in your relationships? Fredi Baker is a Master Certified Coach who believes in the power of the creative process. For over 20 years, she’s coached people who are ready to break out of where they are and lean into their dreams, their vision, and their creativity. She helps them get inspired, focused, and motivated to live by their own rules and make a difference in the world. In her spare time, you will find her playing with yarn and needles — whether she’s knitting colorful, chunky wall hangings or designing shawls. Thus far, five of her patterns have been published, and she delights in seeing other knitters working with her designs and making their own works of art. Find her at

February 2020 | 27

Goal-Setting that Resonates with You


by Gail Barker,

olks often limit learning to a particular stage of life, or to the time leading up to a particular outcome. The truth, however, is that learning happens all the time, whether we are conscious of it or not. Life is a process of ongoing learning. The most powerful enlightenment happens when we choose to approach life with a learning lens. This is especially true when it comes to the setting and achieving of goals. Goals are those objectives that help us move forward and grow by virtue of being in pursuit of something. Often, goal-setting is thought of as a “forward-facing” perspective. While that is accurate to some degree, the challenge is that there is actually a “looking back” aspect that is imperative to truly effective goal-setting.

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B.A., C.P.C.C.

In the context of living a meaningful life, looking back is often framed as a hindrance. We are told to keep our eyes on the prize because so often, when you look back, you get stuck in the past and you cannot move forward with any sense of purpose. That being said, there is a way to look back in service of moving forward. This is the crux of effective goal-setting. There is a way to take stock of whatever lies behind you in service of what lies ahead. For our purposes, let’s explore this idea from the perspective of beginning a new career. The process looks like this (helpful tip: have some note paper or a journal handy for taking notes): 1.

To begin, stand in gratitude. As you look at the career you’ve held until now, or the space that you’ve been in, what will you give thanks for? What experiences

did you have? What surprises did you enjoy? Create a gratitude list, and try to come up with a list of at least 15 points. 2.

Now, shift your focus ever so slightly and ask yourself: What was your most enjoyable moment? What did you glean from that particular experience?


Shift yet again: What was your most powerful learning experience? What made it so?


Shift again: What was your biggest disappointment? What did you learn from that?


One more shift: Who are you now, today, relative to who you were when you started your former career? (Rest assured, you are not the exact same person!). How are you different? What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

The answers to all of these questions provide a constructive, useful framework for reflecting on what you’ve accomplished until now, before you get specific about the goals you will set going forward. Notice that none of these questions are about berating yourself. Instead, these are about learning and, more specifically, learning in service of your own growth and becoming who you’re meant to be. When you start shifting into the forward-facing “goalsetting” part of the process, it’s important to understand that in order to be effective, you can’t be arbitrary in your choices. Instead, it behooves you to set objectives that are rooted in who you are and who you want to be. So, as you did when you were reflecting, and again, within a context of beginning a new career, grab some paper and a pen and ask yourself the following: 1.

How do you want to be in your new career? What word or phrase will you use as your overarching theme?


What 3-5 objectives do you want to accomplish? What is it about these specific objectives that matters? How do these relate to how you want to be?


What will you do differently — and how will you be different — in this new position?


How will you apply your greatest learning from the past to what lies ahead?


What do you want your legacy to be in this new space?

Notice that these questions have a “straddling” quality to them. I am inviting you to take all that you gleaned from whatever was in the past — to not lose sight of those learning nuggets — and apply them as you move into what lies ahead. Learning loses its power if you don’t do anything with it. When it comes to goal-setting, you’ve likely heard of the importance of SMART goals — goals that are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based. When I took my leadership course several years ago, the importance of this acronym was reiterated for us, with a twist. Rather than “Realistic,” we were encouraged to think about goals that are Resonant. Resonant goals aren’t necessarily unrealistic; resonant goals are those that speak to you, those that ignite your passion, those that call you forth and pull you forward. There’s something really inspiring about “Resonant” goals, and considering the questions above within the context of resonance will ensure that your goals are truly meaningful to you. Bottom-line: when you find yourself feeling the call to set goals, take a moment and pause. Allow yourself to reflect on who you’ve been and what you’ve learned up to this point, and then slowly shift your focus forward. As you do so, pay attention to how your goals make you feel. If you feel as though your goals are simply achievable and easily checked off a to-do list, they’re probably not inspiring enough to keep you moving forward. Look for the goals that ignite a feeling of aliveness and energy; that’s how you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Gail Barker is a Certified Professional CoActive Coach. She specializes in supporting leaders to lead powerfully and meaningfully. Her company, Stellar Coaching & Consulting, was established in 2013, and through that platform she has supported hundreds of leaders in elevating their leadership game. A few of the additional hats she wears professionally are author, speaker, and radio show host. Personally, she is deeply committed to her family, loves to read, and finds deep restoration when walking along the beach (even in the winter). Website: Facebook: Twitter: stellar7

February 2020 | 29

Learning Is the Goal

by Kellie Mox 30 | The Brick Magazine


s far as I’m concerned, my eleven-year-old daughter has two assignments for sixth grade: learn how to ask for (and accept) help, and learn how to tolerate frustration. While she’s focused on getting the right answer on fractions or in physics, I’m focused on life lessons. Of course, I want her to master the material she must know to comfortably navigate seventh grade. But I also believe that when we focus solely on an end result, we miss out on powerful lessons along the way. In general, I find that the opportunities for learning that present themselves in our daily life are many, and these learnings are often more impactful long-term than getting the grade, making the team, closing the sale, or hitting our personal record. This perspective focuses equally, if not more, on process over product, and it embraces mistakes as occasions for growth. This, I believe, will support my daughter not only in her education, but also in her career, her relationships, and her overall wellness. To me, this kind of learning signals the ultimate success and goal achievement.

This school of thought didn’t come naturally for me. I was born a type-A overachiever with a tendency to focus on results — the grade, the accolade, the blood test result, or whatever external “thing” validated my achievement. Rather than looking at mistakes or challenges as opportunities for learning, I saw them as failures to be avoided. So I pushed myself with an unrelenting focus to achieve whatever goal I’d set. But this didn’t serve me for long; in fact, it was a big part of what made me fertile ground for chronic illness. Thankfully, my life offered me opportunities to shift this unhealthy pattern through coaching, parenting, and healing. But when I say “shift,” I don’t mean that I’ve mastered this approach or have nothing left to learn. I mean that I’m aware of my tendencies, and I notice more readily when I’ve lost sight of the learning so that I can bring my attention back to it. There is no failure, only learning. This was the mantra in my coach training program sixteen years ago, and it echoes in my life every day. I know first-hand how hard it

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can be to integrate this mantra into one’s life as I practice applying it in healing, parenting, and growing a business. I also know its power. I’ve seen profound shifts in myself and others in physical, mental, and emotional health when our process is valued as much as our product, and when we wholeheartedly embrace the notion that failure is just a lesson in disguise. The bonus is that, more often than not, our desired results come even faster when we’re in pursuit of our learning. So how do we begin to shed our old stories of what it means to achieve our goals, to succeed, to get results? How do we begin to fully embrace learning as a goal unto itself? I have a few ideas to share.

Explore Your Underlying Beliefs While our beliefs feel true for us, they are ultimately neither true nor false. We grow in our self-awareness when we regularly explore and re-evaluate our beliefs, and this is a critical component for growth and healing. Beliefs have the potential to keep us stuck in narratives that no longer serve us — or to catapult us into more empowering stories that allow for new possibilities. For a long time I believed that I was not OK, or in other

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words, not enough. This looked like consistently seeking validation outside myself and striving for the next achievement that would reinforce my enough-ness. It drove me to be laser-focused on achieving, sometimes at my own expense. When I became aware of this old belief and began the work of shifting it, I was able to give myself permission to slow down, to struggle, and to fail. I was able to perceive the lessons in challenges that were, not coincidentally, offering me opportunities to see my own worth in the absence of any achievement.

Shift Your Expectations It’s a normal human experience to have expectations. I admit that I’m a person of high expectations for myself and others, and this can be both a strength and a challenge. Shifting expectations doesn’t mean abandoning them, and it certainly doesn’t mean letting go of intentions or boundaries. Rather, it means opening to new possibilities, letting go of arbitrary timelines, and rewiring old circuitry in the brain by pausing and changing course. It’s true that I’ve had to stop myself numerous times from assisting my daughter with a math problem when she’s frustrated and feeling a sense of failure. Somewhere in me, a teenage girl is expected to hand in completed, accurate

homework, while somewhere else, a mother is expected to ease her daughter’s pain. Every time I stop myself and instead remind my daughter that it’s OK for a problem to be challenging, that learning how to do the problem is more important than getting it right the first time, that speaking up and asking for help from her teacher is important, I am shifting my own expectations and shifting the wiring for both of us so that we can embrace the learning as the goal.

Focus on Practice It takes practice to pursue your learning as diligently as you pursue your results. If you want to rewire your brain (that’s what we’re doing when we learn anything new), practice is the only way forward. You can’t build strength in your biceps without regular weight-bearing exercise. Similarly, you can’t create new neural pathways that are comfortable with risking failure for the sake of learning without regular practice in your real life. Self-awareness is the foundation. This allows us to step back and watch our internal dialogue or observe our feelings. Only then do we have the opportunity to flip our self-talk by writing new dialogue that reinforces our desire to embrace growth and learning as the goal. Asking powerful questions can also be helpful. What can I learn from this? How might this be serving me? What if this challenge is here to teach me? I encourage you to try these questions on, over and over again, and really experience what it feels like to learn from all of it — the perceived failures and the easy wins. When you’re open to

learning and begin applying that learning in your everyday life, that’s when the real magic happens. We all have lessons to learn. Life brings us opportunities to learn those lessons over and over again on progressively deeper levels. But we have to prioritize the learning, which may mean letting go of old beliefs and shifting expectations. And it always requires practice. In my experience, the universe offers remarkable gifts disguised as failures or challenges, which we might miss if we’re overly attached to a result, a timeline, or the rules of the ego. To be sure, the lessons my daughter is learning right now are still somewhat clouded by the eleven-year-old ego, but those lessons will come around again and again. And it’s not lost on me that these lessons are my lessons, too, offered up in a new way for me to learn them once more.

Kellie Mox catalyzes revolutionary healing for women through powerful conversations and whole-health mentoring. She is passionate about authentic, meaningful connections—to the self, others, and the world—and believes that healing flourishes when we strengthen these connections and embrace our wholeness. Kellie is a certified coach and a student of homeopathic medicine with a master’s in health behavior and health education. She works with women virtually and in-person from her home base in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Website: Instagram: @kelliemox Facebook:

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It’s Never Too Late by Monica Brancheau Photo by Priscilla duPreez


loved Sundays as a child, because it meant we were going to our Grandma’s house for dinner.

Grandma was no great cook (soggy broccoli and liver — gross!), but damn, could she bake! Often, she would make us one of her pies with crusts made from 34 | The Brick Magazine

scratch. If that wasn’t the dessert, we could always count on chocolate pudding in red robin egg bowls. One of the first things I did when I arrived at her home was open her refrigerator and peek inside to find those red bowls filled with chocolate pudding with the “skin” on top.

1950 Canada

1940 Honeymoon Mom & Dad in Northern Michigan

Mom in 1991

Eventually, going to Grandma’s house was not an event. When I was in fifth grade, my parents bought her house, and she went about her days in the mother-in-law suite down the hall. At that point in my life, I could walk down the long hallway to her bedroom door and knock on it to spend time with her. We would play double solitaire, do puzzles together, or watch M*A*S*H. I often went to her for advice. She would tell me stories about what she saw at the hospital when she was volunteering, or the current goings-on at her church. My grandma was given to an orphanage when she was a baby. She lived in multiple foster homes and married right out of high school. She had seven children and raised them in a three-bedroom home with no washing machine (yes, she was Catholic). During that time, she was also very involved in her church, was a scout leader, and a leader in her community. Eventually when her kids were older, she embarked on an entrepreneurial adventure and owned a Hallmark store. When my Grandma was 65, she entered college. There she sat in a room of mostly 20-year-olds, learning new theories,

listening to lectures, and taking notes. She did homework and took tests for years until she received her degree. This degree was not going to get her a job or help her move up the corporate ladder. This degree was so much more than that. It was her badge. Her “I’m a queen” badge. Her “I was an orphan, grew up in foster homes, raised seven children and owned a store, and now have a college degree — what have you done?” badge. I can only imagine how proud she must have felt to live her life and to know that it was now her time. Not her husband’s, not her children’s — hers. To prove to herself that she could earn a college degree to take care of “unfinished life business.” Grandma’s grit and grace proves it is never too late to achieve a dream and fulfill a life goal. A mom of four who has had multiple careers and harbors a passion for dance, Monica Brancheau is a Michigan native and graduate of the University of Michigan who then never left Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in working with children’s issues, from education to non-profit work in teaching in urban settings and non-profit management, marketing, and fundraising. When she’s not working, you can find her gardening, reading, writing, listening to music, and spending time with her treasured family. February 2020 | 35

No Silver Bowl for Me by Marilyn A. Pellini 36 | The Brick Magazine

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number of years ago, due to my husband’s recent job transfer, our little family had to move to Westchester County in New York state. Shortly after our arrival, I began to work as a substitute teacher for a school district that was renowned for its fine educational structure and methods. My previous teaching position had been in a large city, and it was obvious that the children in this new, small town had many more advantages than any inner-city child would ever experience. Over the years, not much has changed in this school system. Class size is often as small as eighteen children in the lower elementary grades, and not much larger in the upper elementary school. Although the children must provide their own basic classroom materials such as paper, pencils, and notebooks, there is no shortage of books, art supplies, computers, and many other classroom enhancements. The children living in this area come from above-average socio-economic status, and the parents are very involved in their children’s upbringing and education. Many students even have stay-at-home mothers, since it is

not necessary financially for many of these families to have dual incomes. These moms often serve on civic club boards, volunteer at the school, and might even be found at home preparing a gourmet dinner. Only when the children are grown, or college tuitions are imminent, do some of these women seek employment to defray college costs or to fill the time left by having an empty nest. Because of family income, large financial college grants or scholarships to kids in the area are the exception rather than the rule, even though these students attend some of the country’s finest and most expensive schools. If you were good enough, or lucky enough, to land a job teaching for this school district and had been in their employ for twenty-five years, you were honored with an engraved silver bowl. I worked for the district for fifteen years as a teacher and eight years as an aide in a resource room. I won’t be getting an inscribed bowl, though — not just because I had only put in a total of twenty-three years of service, but because most of this time had been as a substitute teacher. Even a school district of this caliber had little regard for the dedication of its substitutes.

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Many administrators and parents still seem to see those who come in on a day-to-day basis as little more than babysitters. The school principals that I worked under were usually polite and courteous, and would sometimes stop by the classroom during the day to see how things were going. You were always left with the impression, however, that you should not send a child to the office under any circumstance. Problems in the room were yours to handle no matter how heinous, and in fact your employment depended on it, even though the regular staff often had a steady procession going to the principal for disciplinary action. Subs understood that they would be called upon to work not based on how competent they were as a teacher, but by how few waves they made on any given day. Parents are often upset when their child comes home with the news that they have had a substitute teacher for the day. Most folks have the impression that the day has been wasted, and the child has learned nothing. This may have been the case many years ago, but my district hires only certified teachers as both subs and aides. One parent recently complained about the pay scale for substitutes, saying it is much higher than in other

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parts of the country, although it is only commensurate with the rate that permanent teachers in the area are compensated. Even if a child tells their parent how good the new teacher was, it is often assumed that the kids are only happy because they had gotten a day to goofoff and not do any work. Regular teachers are usually very pleased and appreciative of the job done by the substitute teacher assigned to their classroom. Equally happy is the sub who is left complete lesson assignments, ones that can be easily interpreted. All too often I found that lessons had notations made in a personal code that only the teacher herself could understand. Sometimes it was not possible to even locate the plans. Then I would have to construct the day based on materials in the student’s desks. Most subs manage these hurdles without even considering it a challenge. A typical day for me usually began with a call about 6:00 A.M. Very seldom was I contacted in advance. I had to be prepared to take an elementary class, or perhaps one at the middle school (provisions of my certificate), to teach art, music, or even gym. If a teacher had to go home during the day because of illness, I had to find my whistle, sweat suit, or clean art smock at a moment’s notice. I kept folders and file cards of projects

that worked well with notations of the date and year that they had been used, so there would be little or no repetition. When I taught music, I often brought along my ukulele to play and sing for the classes, showed them how easily it could be tuned, and then gave them an opportunity to inspect and strum it, as this was often an instrument they had never seen before. I had some singalong sheets and rounds, which they really got into. My first thought after receiving that early morning call to work was to try to get there as early as possible. As I said, if no lesson plan was available, I would need time to construct one. Other grade-level teachers could usually be counted on to let me know what “specials” the class had that day, or if I would have any extra responsibilities such as recess or lunch duty. Arriving at school too early could sometimes pose a problem, as you could be taking someone else’s parking space. Getting to the teachers’ room for lunch before the others might mean you take another teacher’s favorite seat at the lunch table. I quickly learned to use whatever area was furthest away, as this was usually a safe bet. In many districts, the teacher has the option of requesting a certain substitute. In order to work often, it helped to get to know personally as many of the faculty as possible and to determine what they liked or didn’t like done in their classrooms. It was an anathema if they perceived you had been intrusive in any way. For example, I would hang up some of the children’s work accomplished during that day if there was an empty bulletin board, but would never remove a display, even if the dated items indicated it had been hanging there a very long time. Subs are expected to stick to the prescribed lesson and accomplish as much of it as possible. All papers completed by the children that day must be corrected. It is important to remember which teachers want these papers handed out at the end of the day, and which like the assignments left for them to peruse. It is always appreciated if you have the children straighten their desks and the room in general before leaving for the day, and that homework has been carefully explained and the children reminded to bring home the necessary materials to complete the work. If a teacher was absent for an extended period of time, I was expected to decorate the room in keeping with current projects or seasonal changes. When working in

an upper elementary grade, one is required to maintain the grade book so that report card information will be accurate. If the teacher was out for an entire semester, the task of preparing the report cards and holding parent teacher conferences also became my responsibility. Attending any meetings or conferences the faculty member had committed to was also mandatory. Permanent subs, as you would be called after taking a class for an extended period, were also expected to contact parents, the school psychologist, reading specialist, or nurse if any unusual problems were occurring with a child. In this kind of situation, it was always imperative to keep in touch with the regular teacher for input, guidance, and approval, along with the school’s principal. Many of the substitute teachers I knew had obtained jobs because they had been so devoted to the school community. One had been the PTA president at both the elementary and middle schools, ran the school fair and potluck suppers, and worked at the polls for the school budget vote. They were dedicated both in and out of school. A most important aspect of being a substitute teacher is quickly establishing a personal relationship with the children. Each one needs to feel that you are as competent, dedicated, and compassionate as their regular teacher. They need to know that you are kind and trustworthy, that you know your subject matter, and most of all, that you like children and are fair. I always tried to learn each child’s name or nickname. I would often give them a treat by keeping them out a bit longer at recess time or perhaps playing a game they had never played before, but mostly I taught them, kept them safe, and hopefully made school fun in the bargain. With all this hard work, caring, and inventiveness, there will still be no silver bowl for me, nor for any of the millions of other substitute teachers working diligently in schools throughout this country day after day.

Marilyn Pellini has recently published a grief book titled Dear Al, A Widow’s Struggles and Remembrances. Her other credits as a writer include recent articles in Brick Magazine titled “Memories in My Button Jar” and “Restructuring My World,” pieces in Westchester Parent Magazine, Bay State Parent Magazine, On The Water, Balanced Rock, and others. In May 2018, she took the first place prize in the NY State Federation of Women’s Clubs writing contest.

February 2020 | 39

Be That Person

by Maria Sylvester, MSW, CPC Photo by Guille Pozz

40 | The Brick Magazine


hat if you were to be the person you needed when you were younger?”

I’ll occasionally wonder this out loud to a coaching client who is experiencing emotional distress. I wait and watch. Typically, I witness a subtle shift — a moment of quiet, yet profound, transformation. The anxiety, angst, emotional struggle, defensiveness, or blaming ceases. There is a pause. Then comes a smile of deep recognition and knowing. A smile of relief. This relief manifests because my question reminds the person sitting across from me that they are not powerless, but rather powerful. I get the privilege of observing clients in moments of expanded self-awareness all the time. This simple idea — the possibility that one could be the person they needed when

they were younger — can shift a a person from a state of helplessness to personal empowerment and freedom. I’m always amazed and deeply moved when a client, reflecting on the notion that they could become for themselves what they wished from another, then heads emotionally in exactly the right direction for their healing. There is clear recognition of how they might think, feel, or do something in a new way. They step into a place of exercising personal strength. This is because quite often we know, at our core, what is necessary to change within or for ourselves. We have insight on how to fill an emotional void because we can vividly, often viscerally, remember what is missing. We know what we long for. We’ve felt the familiar ache for years. Honoring it feels quite validating. February 2020 | 41

Photo by Laura Ockel

Registering the Ache Sometimes, unfortunately, the ache of remembering is an excruciatingly painful knowing. When I’m asking a client to “be that person,” they first have to register where, at the hands of another — whether intended or unintentionally — they didn’t have someone looking out for them. Instead, perhaps in the presence or the absence of another, they were emotionally wounded, or neglected, misunderstood, devalued, abandoned, abused, overlooked, not seen or acknowledged. These woundings, whether nuanced or extreme, result in a person feeling disconnected from themselves. The disconnection from and the burying of the authentic self occurs because a

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person has to wall off layers upon layers of emotional reactions simply to survive. Woundings such as these tragically often occur in childhood, before the younger self has developed strong enough emotional resources and capacities to not be completely overwhelmed by the traumatic event. Instead, the child is flooded with painful feelings. If left alone during the experience or abandoned afterwards, the trauma is intensified. Adults, too, can undergo equally disturbing events — experiences that leave the individual longing for meaningful connection, empathy, support, and comfort from another to help make sense of and mitigate the pain. Holding, containing, and integrating big feelings is a challenge for many.

The Healing The search for a rescuer or comforting presence is a normal one. The desire to have someone “be with us” when we are suffering makes sense, is completely understandable, and can be incredibly helpful. The only problem is that all too often, the reassuring, nurturing someone isn’t available in the moment. Registering our aloneness in these moments can feel risky, threatening to take us back into excruciating memories. Yet adults, with more developed emotional, intellectual, and reasoning capacities, can bring more expanded or abstract meaning to past traumas. An adult, for instance, is better able to appreciate the fact that it was a parent’s depression that made them inattentive and unavailable, rather than the belief that they were an unlovable, undeserving child. As adults, we can learn to initiate parts of our own healing process. We learn to self-sooth with words, gentle comforting activities, or most significantly, by developing the ability to feel all of our feelings in our body without running from them or making up stories to think them away. The ability to turn within, to successfully hold, contain, and navigate our emotional landscape, is to discover the power of who we can be for ourselves. It is profound.

The Reunion It is part of the magnificence of the human condition that when genuinely supported, encouraged, and — if I may dare say — given “permission,” a person can truly return home to themselves, learning to embrace and step into their resilience and personal agency. I marvel at this. I coach for these moments. For they are moments of getting to stand alongside another amazing soul as they awaken to their core self. This is where true aliveness resides! To reinforce core strengths, I’ll sometimes remind a client that they can be their own “sweetheart” to themselves. They can talk to themselves lovingly, saying, for instance: “Sweetheart, you are scared and anxious right now, but I’m here with you. I’ve got your back. Remember, you’ve got skills now you didn’t have when you were younger.” There is great healing embedded in these simple, gentle conversations with oneself.

with acute social anxiety. They struggle to regulate their reactions and emotions because they have moved into fight-or-flight mode — racked with jitters, a pounding heart, and racing breaths. In these situations, I might suggest that the individual gently remind themselves that saying hello to a stranger does not equate to a life or death threat, even though their body sensations seem to be triggering such a warning. In other words, I guide the client lovingly back to themselves, so they can harness their logic and emotional knowing.

The Aliveness Tears of recognition and quiet joy often follow the kinds of caring directives I just described. This is because the person realizes, on a deeply experiential level, that being there for themselves can work wonders. And then, to further cement and consolidate their emotional learning and expanded self-awareness, we’ll talk together about and celebrate how self-empowerment feels — physically in their body, as well as in mind and spirit. This, my friends, constitutes an experience of transformation. When one can be for themselves the type of person they needed when they were younger, utilizing core internal strengths to buffer the emotional struggles inherent in a difficult moment, there is relief. A dynamic, fundamental aliveness gets sparked. Accessing one’s internal resources and personal initiative is always healing. So, dear readers: if you are longing to feel more vibrant and alive in your life, it is time to take yourselves to task. How might you return home to yourself and experience, right then and there, the person you needed most? Not sure? May I suggest you start with “Sweetheart…” Maria Sylvester, MSW, CPC is a certified Life Coach in Ann Arbor, MI who loves empowering adolescents, adults, and couples to live from the HEART of what really matters to them so that they can bring their fully expressed, vibrant selves into the world. She has a special gift for helping women reclaim their feminine power, and embrace their radiant, sensual, sexy spirits. Their lives transform. They soar into their mid-life magnificence! Instagram: @life_coach_maria

As another example, let’s consider a person overwhelmed


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A New Style of Parenting

by Jan Pringle

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just returned from a morning of pure joy as a nanny for a two-year-old — a job that included the tricky transition of dropping her off at the daycare. Many of you might be surprised that I classified a morning of this nature, with a toddler, as enjoyable given the “terrible twos.” If I rewind 20 years ago, when my own children were young, that would NOT have been the case! Today, however, with the experience I have as a retired kindergarten teacher and practicing parenting consultant, nearly every interaction I have with children is positive; it has everything to do with the philosophy of parenting that I have invested in for the last 15 years. When my children were young, I made a vow NOT to parent the way I had been parented. In her book Kids Are Worth It!, Barbara Coloroso talks about the “Jellyfish,” “Brick-Wall,” and “Backbone Parenting” styles, claiming that the supple yet firm and flexible Backbone Parent is the ideal. The Jellyfish Parent wants to be their child’s friend rather than disciplinarian, often giving the child far too many choices or very little structure. A child in this setting may begin to feel anxious and unsafe, having too much responsibility at such a young age. My father, however, was the typical Brick-Wall parent, controlling with an iron fist and often resorting to corporal punishment. It was his way or the highway. This style of discipline negates entirely what a child is feeling or wanting. The child learns through threats, punishments, time-outs, and brute strength to acquiesce and avoid the power struggles; at no time will she feel as if her feelings matter or that they have been heard. Even with the awareness of not wanting to repeat my father’s style of parenting, I still gravitated towards it, and then felt guilty for not being more respectful and flexible. I frantically searched for alternatives, yet continued my rigid discipline. I didn’t like my style, and eventually, I didn’t like me. Fortunately, I have changed. With over 20 years of experience working with children and mentoring parents, I approach caring for children so much differently today. To what do I owe this shift in philosophy whereby the child is not to be mastered by the parent or caregiver, but met by them? I learned so much from the writings of Janet Landsbury in Elevating Child Care: A Guide to

Respectful Parenting, where she encourages parents to adopt a respectful parenting style and connect with their children. She takes the everyday situations we face with our children and applies the principles of RIE Parenting (Resources for Infant Educators) founded by Magda Gerber, giving us concrete strategies for dealing respectfully with children — and in turn, forming strong attachments. Why was it so hard for me initially to let go of my BrickWall parenting style? Fear. I was afraid that my children might experience pain or hurt; I believed it was my job to protect them. Maybe they wouldn’t have the answers in life, because when I was young, I was told that I didn’t have the answers. I had a fear that if my children experienced natural consequences, they would suffer too much pain; again, I felt it was my job to protect them. Finally, I had a nagging belief that I was responsible for their feelings, so I had to try to stop them from crying at all costs; I perceived tears as a reflection of my poor parenting skills. In hindsight, I can see how unhealthy and false these belief systems were and the effects they had on my children. Daily, I work on forgiving myself, knowing I did my best with what I had. Part of my amends has been to talk freely to my children about my previous parenting style. I have also chosen to pay this knowledge forward by mentoring parents about this healthier, more connecting method of parenting. What does this new style look like? I am a loving leader that children and parents can respect and look up to. I find myself asking the children in my care to do something rather than telling or ordering them. Yes, sometimes they do resist my request; the young child is in a developmental phase which is all about expressing their strong will. So, they often prove to be lofty challengers. However, in most cases, if I say, “I would like you to…” there is an inherent willingness on the part of the child to meet my needs. When they don’t want to do what I have requested, I honor that by saying, “It looks to me like you don’t want to stop what you are doing to do what I asked.” How connecting and affirming is that? Even the non-verbal young child will feel heard and respected. Then I give them a choice: “Would you like to do what I am asking by yourself, or would you like me to help you?” Or maybe I suggest that we will do it together when I have finished singing one song. In other words, I have a whole new bag

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of strategies for this compassionate style of caregiving. Furthermore, I am totally cognizant of allowing the child to have their emotions, as I no longer take responsibility for what they are feeling. Instead, when they have a meltdown or tantrum, I support them. We all know as adults how important it is to be able to vent; a tantrum is a child’s way of venting. Can you imagine how powerless they must feel in a world where very little is under their control? They need to vent. Sure, it doesn’t change the outcome in most cases, but it allows them to experience sadness, frustration, and anger, and still be loved and supported. How wonderful is that? My most recent “aha” moment came just last week when I was caring for my two-yearold, as I was about to lift her out of her chair after breakfast. As I always do, I tell her of my intentions before I act. In that split second, I realized something: if I am always doing something TO a child without their knowledge (telling them before I do it), I am in effect like a giant treating them like a puppet. How does this affect their self-esteem and worthiness? Conversely, when I include them in the process (by telling them what I am going to do before doing it), I give them the message that they are worthy of being involved — that I value them. Each and every time I parent this way, I am building their self-esteem. I wonder what the world would look like if every child could be raised in such a validating way. Jan Pringle is a retired Waldorf Kindergarten Teacher and mother of two grown children who has filtered over 25 years of life lessons of working with parents and children to create her passion - Loving Leadership Parent Consulting. Through parent mentoring and guidance, she empowers you to be a gentle leader, creating respectful boundaries that improve the family dynamics. She mentors parents and caregivers virtually and personally from London, Ontario, Canada. lovingleadershipparentconsulting 46 | The Brick Magazine

Dr. Lisa’s CBD Solutions Superior CBD products that are: Formulated by an MD. Locally grown cannabis, not hemp. Grown outside in the Michigan sun and natural soil, not indoors with artificial lighting and chemical fertilizers. Full spectrum, not a distillate. Also sources of other beneficial phytocannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, and naturally occurring terpenes. Additional medicinal grade essential oils in these formulations further enhance the Entourage Effect. Third party tested and verified clean. Better Than Organic (USDA Organic regulations allow over 40 synthetic substances). Dr. Lisa’s products contain NO synthetics.

1-844-PROJUVU (844-776-5888) email: All products contain < 0.3% THC. None of the statements in this ad have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. None of the statements should be construed as dispensing medical advice, making claims regarding the cure of diseases, nor can this product prevent or cure any disease state. These products are meant to be used as a complimentary or adjunctive supplement. Be aware that potential drug interactions may occur. You should consult with your personal physician, February 2020 | 47 especially if you are taking prescription medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions prior to use.

Is There a Safe Vape?

by Lisa Profera, MD

Photo by Erik McLean

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or many years, vaping has been touted as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. In the fall of 2019, the “vape crisis” hit the media when a significant number of people experienced serious and (sometimes deadly) lung damage due to vaping. “Vaping” is slang for the practice of inhaling tobacco or other plant-based substances via a portable device (e-cigarette) that produces an inhalable vapor or aerosol by heating it up. The problem is that most of the liquid oils (e-liquids) that are vaporized also contain additives, flavorings, and/or other solvents that are potentially harmful. Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes causes cancer. Nicotine alone, although highly addictive, does not cause cancer. When e-cigarettes were first introduced in 2003, they were marketed as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes for people already addicted to nicotine. Unfortunately, the marketing extended to non-smokers, and a new, younger generation of people became dependent on vaping nicotine. Additives and flavorings enhanced palatability, increasing the appeal of e-cigarettes. Specific brands and flavors targeted young people in the past several years and usage increased exponentially around the world. There is no safe tobacco product; nicotine, however “pure” the delivery system is, is still a highly addictive substance with its own set of effects and side-effects on several body systems (nervous, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular). Like heroin and cocaine, it causes a surge in dopamine levels, which affects pleasure and reward responses in the brain. Once the effects wear off, the user wants more. Nicotine also reduces anxiety through the release of beta-endorphin. There are certainly safer ways to obtain positive effects on brain neurotransmitters. The performance of vape devices can vary widely; most are made in China. Many vape pens work with a battery that powers a heating element. Some of these devices not only vaporize the e-liquid, they reach high enough temperatures to combust it. These higher temperatures can convert chemicals such as solvents, flavorings, and other additives into potentially harmful substances. Heavy metals and other toxins can also be present as contaminants.

There are several different types of vaping devices. Some use convection or combustion of dry plant material, and others heat up and aerosolize the e-liquid. Even though investigators at the CDC suspect the lung injury to be caused by chemicals in the e-liquid, they are still recommending that people refrain from any type of vaping until they have more information. For several years, we have known about the presence of certain harmful chemicals in vape cartridges. Historically, the three main culprits have been diacetyl, polyethylene glycol (PEG), and propylene glycol (PG). The new kid on the block, the substance causing the very severe lung disease that caught the attention of the media and the CDC, is vitamin E acetate — more on that later. Diacetyl is an organic compound with a buttery taste — it’s a common flavoring used in the popcorn industry. It is also present in some foods and alcohol, but we typically don’t inhale it. When added to vape products it offers an appealing flavor, but it is also heated and inhaled into the lungs. PEG and PG are used as thinning agents in nicotine and marijuana vape cartridges. These chemicals are also found in many household items such as cosmetics, baby wipes, hair sprays, and pet food. After heating and inhalation, the PG cools down deep inside the lungs. As it cools, it can polymerize, and form deposits that act as plastic-like plugs inside the bronchioles, causing irreversible lung damage. It’s commonly used in antifreeze. PEG is the active ingredient in the popular laxative Miralax. When heated to a temperature of 480º F, PEG undergoes a chemical reaction and becomes acrolein (propenal). Both acrolein and diacetyl are known to cause lung damage and are potential carcinogens. Thus, one can argue that e-liquids containing these chemicals are no safer than smoking regular tobacco cigarettes. We know from the experience of the popcorn industry that PEG and diacetyl are linked to a debilitating lung condition called bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as “popcorn lung.” This is a serious, irreversible disease caused by direct injury to the bronchioles (the smallest airway passages in the lungs). It was first documented as

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official statement: “Recent CDC laboratory testing of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (fluid samples collected from the lungs) from 29 patients with EVALI submitted to CDC from 10 states found vitamin E acetate in all of the samples.”

many workers in popcorn-making facilities started to develop this uncommon condition more frequently than what had been documented in the general population. Although these chemicals were identified as being potentially harmful in the popcorn industry, they are being used in the vape industry. Concerns about these chemicals in e-cigarettes were expressed to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). In July of 2017, the FDA decided to delay investigation into the e-cigarette industry until 2022, despite opposition from the American Lung Association. Fast forward to late summer 2019, when an unusually high number of people were experiencing severe respiratory compromise due to vaping — most notably, a condition called EVALI (e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury). The initial symptoms of EVALI are common in many other respiratory diseases and may be difficult to diagnose immediately. Patients can present with cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Other symptoms that may occur are fever, chills, and weight loss. Severe symptoms and/or hypoxia (low oxygen saturation) warrant hospitalization. Respiratory failure and death occurred in some patients. As of late November 2019, there were over 2,200 cases of EVALI and 47 deaths, according to the CDC. According to an

Vitamin E acetate is used as a thickening agent in THC vaping devices. Some patients with EVALI also used nicotine-containing vape products. The CDC Photo by Victor Bigs recommends that people refrain from all e-cigarette or vaping products. Cases of EVALI peaked in midSeptember, and are thankfully on the decline. The CDC delineated vitamin E acetate as “a chemical of concern.” It is unclear whether vitamin E acetate is the sole cause of EVALI in this recent health scare, or if there are other chemicals or factors involved. Investigation by the CDC is ongoing. The most recent updates are posted on their website, The CDC and FDA are working together to analyze the chemical components in both e-liquids and their vapors to better understand the cause and mechanism of lung injury. Until we have more information, the existence of a “safe vape” is unknown. Owner and Founder of PROJUVU MD Aesthetics and Lifestyle Medicine in Ann Arbor, MI Expert Injector doTERRA Essential Oils Wellness Advocate BEMER Independent Distributor CrossFit® Level 1 Trainer | 1-844-PROJUVU | FaceBook business page: Request to join my Closed FaceBook group, Dr. Lisa’s Essential Oils Forum: Instagram:

Disclaimer: Please note that the information in this article or any of its references has been designed to help educate the reader in regard to the subject matter covered. This information is provided with the understanding that the author and any other entity referenced here are not liable for the misconception or misuse of the information provided. It is not provided in order to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, illness, or injured condition of the body. The provider of this information shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage, or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this information. The information presented is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling or care. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness, or injury should consult a qualified health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

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