Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mastering Ourselves For Each Other or..One Day at a Time:) / #community #AllIn #values #softskills

“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned.”

Song of Solomon 8:7

I was born in La Jolla, California with a silver spoon in my mouth, though I have gotten to points where i had no spoons:) My late-father was a U.S. Marine and a soldiers soldier..he became a 101st Airborne Ranger, a Screaming Eagle as they call themselves. Mom is a math teacher of teachers. Dad would wake me up at 5:30 every morning to do calisthenics and run before school. He’d get me out of bed and gently walk me to the shower. He’d turn it on and leave. Of course, I would sleep standing up on leaning on the towel rack and he’d have to come back in and prompt me to go into the shower. In the middle of our run we would stop at the church and pray, then continue running. Mom is Cuban-American and was/is the family therapist for my sisters and I. She was always my strongest advocate through thick and thin. In our runs, Dad and I would always have a segment were we would sprint. He taught me to run on my toes like the Olympians… to raise my knees up high and use my arms as wings to hit higher speeds and avoid injury. I hated that shit every morning. Yet looking back, I am so grateful for his lovingkindness toward me. The dude loved me. Mom made sure I made it to school on time. She made sure I had all my academics in-line. She was the one I would go to to complain about Dad’s toughness. She always/ does make me feel better. Poor her. She is a receptacle for all that is inside of my sisters and I. She takes it all, as do most mothers, right?! God bless her and all Mom’s.

Both parents have been All-American in the values they have yearned to instill in me. These are universal values: developing and sustaining grit with hard, focused work, being kind to others even when they are not kind to us, doing the right thing even when others are not watching and, if you can weather it, serving God instantly both day and night.

Faltered I have. This is known by those closest to me, yet my heart has always been in the right place. Though I have fallen seven times, I get back up… sometimes others help me back up:)

Lately, my family has grown, changed and morphed into a dynamic, fluid reality. I empathize with the youth at Scalzi skatepark and I believe that I am picking up on their awareness in little ways.. a little bit here, a little bit there:) I am also becoming even more aware than I was before. Doing so, I recognize that it is in my moments of greatest tenderness, as well as my greatest toughness that moments of awareness have displayed themselves upon me. I know not the names of scores of police officers I come into contact with, yet to me they are like family now. We may not know each other’s names (I actually look to keep a low-profile), but because we are working towards a common cause for the community, I can’t but help notice that we are shoulder to shoulder. My heart goes out to their dedication, as it does to each civil servant, like the firefighters, the paramedics… all the first responders. These are the true hero’s who must balance being both soft and hard daily. That is tough stuff! Knowing how to be hard and soft. 

My parents, for better or for worse, instilled these traits in me and my experiences and the people who have entered my life have solidified it one day at a time…For this I am grateful. 

Growing up, my childhood was both blessed and traumatizing at times, as it has been for everyone…every one. Still here, I look back and see how it has all led me to this point. Looking around myself, I count my blessings and though things are far from ideal in my life right now (my heart is broken), I count myself happy that I can still be a force of positive influence in the lives of others. This is my greatest joy. That I can be a man of value to those around me. It is my hope that others may not see loftiness in me, but loving service and a kind heart that works to make things better for others.

In the end, I want to be at peace with my children, raise them up and be a presence in their lives, that when they think of Daddy, that they do so with admiration for the value I bring (present tense) to others.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Criminals Included / #Skateboarding is Not a Crime :) #PositiveDisruption #Scalzi #skatepark #youth #EpicCommitment

Today is Thursday, October 29, 2015. There is hopeful news, but let us take it with a grain of salt. The image of the garbage shown here illustrates that OUR efforts to revitalize Scalzi skatepark are not just wheels spinning in the mud. Truly, it has been a community effort that has encompassed not just physical actions that are easily recognized, such as almost zero new untasteful graffiti, but also a decrease in the amount of garbage found within the skatepark and its immediate periphery outside the gate and its circumference. This could very well be attributed to the mega-storm last night, which would make it rather unappealing to stick around at night at the skatepark, but it could all be attributed to the community outreach by an untold number of stand-up individuals, including skaters of all ages, parents and the Stamford Police. There was indeed new graffiti that I spotted in a hidden corner, which will be taken off (as soon as I get new funds..gotta pay rent:).  

Rather than vilifying the night owl crew whom I know by name now, I have continuously reached out to them and am bringing, as with others, shoulder to shoulder, an epic commitment to fight with a formidable power weapon which would put Bruce Lee's rapid-fire moves to shame... lovingkindness. No fist is raised, no insult is lobbed, no grimace is shown. This is how we fight best. No use in making criminals of each other. 


The next phases are a lot of fun. A high school local skater from Darien, Chris, whom is showcased in one of my latest YouTube videos, showed monster initiative and instead of just me approaching Stamford Parks and Recreation at City Hall, he proposed that we would have greater impact with a written proposal of what we visualize for the skatepark and even put forth that such proposal be presented with a (don't laugh too hard) unionized group of skaters in person.

Keeping momentum is key so moving swiftly and decisively is in OUR best interest. We want to strike while the hammer is hot. What is next? Perhaps a one or a series of on-going fundraisers to expand the skatepark as originally envisioned. There is a sad street skate zone behind the bushes of the present skatepark which we want to have further constructed. You never know... construction crews may come out of the woodwork for the youth in the community:) Also, there is another Chris, a father and skater dude, cool guy, who may hassle an artist friend for some of his time and expertise in order to do murals on the walls. This was his idea, not mine. All I could visualize was 'storytelling' on the walls!! What a grand idea!

Okay, I'll keep you all posted as new developments happen besides me falling on my derriere and being the morning 'bagman' who cleans up the trash:)!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How We Pay our Teachers / #positivedisruption #flipthescript #salary

It takes 10-20 years for a public school teacher to make at least $100,000 a year in salary.
It takes less than a second for a stock broker to make millions if their timing is right.

Teachers guide and grow hearts and minds yet get paid a sliver of what people who grow money in the stock markets get paid. Most of us educators are content also because we reap what we sow… and that is worth more than millions in the bank. 

Teachers bring their hearts to work and consider how to reach individuals deep inside hoping to positively disrupt and steer children and adults in healthy ways, yet they are recompensed with low-pay and long hours of work. Taking summers off is actually time for them to recoup their energy. It is an emotionally taxing job.

I am self-employed so I don’t take any time off. I usually work Christmas day (thankful for it), the first day of the year, and if I can muster it, seven days a week. I can’t do enough. Many educators feel like this to a degree. We deeply care about those we teach and learn from. Our work is not just work, but a special duty we do for the community at large, regardless of how the community validates us or our work. It matters not to me that I actually work for free most of the time. I know God is watching and I am thankful for what He has done and continues to do for me in my life. My work is gratitude for the blessings I recognize that rain down on me on a daily basis. Of course, this dynamic taxes me to the hilt, yet I do sleep at ease (usually).

What more can I do? I see that I am talented and effective in reaching and transforming hearts. With no agenda, like the armies of teachers across America and the globe, I wake up everyday thinking and feeling how I am going to be even greater in my ability to be a positive influence in the lives of my students. 

I take my hat off to all clinical teachers who wear their heart on their sleeve. You are a gajillionare in my book, irrespective of how much you get paid. Your worth is not represented by the pay afforded to you. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We ARE All Created Equal / #empathy #riseUp #IHaveADream #MovingForward #PoliticalScience #humanrights

Being a teacher requires equal measures of ‘know-how,’ nurturing love and innovation, in order to stay relevant and effective in repeatedly producing successful educative outcomes.

My graduate degree is in Special Education from Fairfield University and my bachelor’s is in Political Science from UMass-Boston affording me a special mix of insight for a Special Educator and Executive Function Skills Coach who works with children and adults with attentional deficits, behavioral concerns or identified as being on the autism spectrum. Does it give me somewhat of a special micro and macro lens at viewing and understanding my work? I believe so, though it does not mean I am always right. Just ask my ex-wife.

Like the artists of old I have had three main families, or patrons for half a decade each of whom has been my base of financial support throughout my time in the U.S. northeast. A Muslim family, a Jewish family and a Christian family.. all with at least one child on the autism spectrum. Each set of parents knows me well and I am fortunate to have been able to coach and mentor their children, my students for so long. Like an artist painting a canvas, I am thankful that I have been able to to see the effect of my work over this period of time, instead of starting and stopping with a myriad of caring families. Being let into the homes and lives of people is not something I take lightly, rather it is a big honor to me that they have deemed Coach Bill worthy enough to be kept around. Though I do work with other students, and have done so always in my 13 years as a teacher from Boston to Hawai’i, New York and Connecticut, it is special to me to have these three main families. I love them and their children and their children love me back. These well-informed, highly-educated parents put their trust in me. Religion is never, ever mentioned and rightly so. It has nothing to do with my direct work in their homes and communities. I go in, do my work, and leave, again and again. Somewhere in between on my personal time, I pray and give thanks for their patronage. It is not every day that an Educator can be self-employed and have this kind of lasting impression on children. It is a humbling dynamic and staying humble keeps me on my feet.

Call Me Naive

Lately, I have been reading the newspaper again (I stopped for awhile because it was just too depressing), and as usual, the situation in the Middle East see-saws between bad to worse. People want to have their basic needs met, they want to be able to walk outside their homes and not have to worry about getting gunned down because of their last name, the color of their skin or their particular political views. Though I am a Christian, my personal views or those of anyone are always trumped (pun intended) by love and kindness. Call me naive, yet I believe that most people (most, not all) would be quite alright living at peace with one another if their basic needs were met, their children could be educated and they could pursue their healthy dreams to better their own present and future without fear of being harassed, bullied or threatened because of their personal positions. In respect to these three religions I have mentioned, represented by my three main patrons, we are all the children of Abraham, or better said, to be more politically correct if i must, we are all brothers and sisters. Fighting stops and hearts grow when we place ourselves in the shoes of another, see through the eyes of another, and feel through the heart of another. This is called empathy and it is a muscle that needs to be exercised more often in this world if we are to make it through all the fighting, all the wars.


What do you think? I thank you for your time and attention. 

Coach Bill MA SpEd

Monday, October 26, 2015

Never Give Up on a Dream / #Scalzi #skateboarding #community #PositiveDisruption #socialgood #therapy

What great things can be accomplished when we come together as a community?
Decency regains territory and our shared destiny becomes brighter.
No more tears fall, but faces are lifted up with smiling hearts filled with courage, grit and determination.

Coming together are hearts and minds under a common cause, like a river that flows without end. Surely, yesterday morning the skatepark I frequent daily was wrecked, yet a wave of dedication swept over by end of day. Things have changed. We are in new territory now and there is no going back. Children and parents are establishing their positions within the park by their mere presence. Experienced skaters are emboldened and ripping every which way. You should see some of them. It is a marvel to watch them hit breathtaking speeds as they perform hard to pronounce maneuvers. If that is not all, we now have a second female skater in our midst. She is quite young but makes up for that with her persistent desire to skateboard. Her wonderful mother told me that she is quiet as a ghost in her school, yet she transforms into something else at Scalzi skatepark. Gone is the hesitancy and the lack of inner confidence when she enters through those gates. These are replaced by a stronger, self-advocating individual who is in constant learning mode. 

What happens at the skatepark? Is there magic in the air? No:), it is much simpler than that. Skateboarding is therapeutic. It calms my own heart to move fluidly in motion when I am not falling on my ass. The development of our executive function skills, located in the prefrontal cortex of the human brain accounts for over thirty identified abilities, including but not limited to foresight, goal-directed persistence, focus, sustained attention, behavior modulation and functional balance. Of course, the brain is a comprehensive operating system and the strenuous mental exercise does not stop there but encompasses both right and left hemispheres as well. An activity like skateboarding strengthens the synaptic connections between all parts of the brain therein creating a heightened operating processing platform for the learner. Moreover, the skills that are polished while moving on these wooden planks continue to pay dividends outside the skateboarding life. Yes, I know…too much of one thing only makes you dull. Skating is not everything in life, but for me and the skaters at Scalzi… skateboarding is an outlet for us in a world where everything else is structured in frameworks that do not always allow for both heart and mind to work together in sync.

Where do we go from here?

What is practical? What is achievable? What can we do if we sync all our hearts and minds together for the betterment of what the skatepark is beginning to represent more clearly? Young and old, black, white, Asian, hispanic… all these are here… shoulder to shoulder. This place is a microcosm of a shared dream many of us hang our hats on. I have that dream. We can continue to rise up for each other. This dream takes apathy by the horns and disintegrates it into nothingness. Where do we go from here? Well, we come together and figure out how to adequately sustain this dream. How much tax payer money was invested in this park back in 2007? Are we to just let that go to waist and let the park be a drug point? Do we turn our backs and walk away as the children are letting us know without words that they love how they feel as they carve those concrete walls? Hells no! We keep stepping up with single focus, with grit, with love that is not intimidated. We throw the vehicle into sixth gear and gun that engine! Let it come alive! I don’t have all the answers, yet I know me, and I this means that I won’t rest until we reach the mountaintop. But I can’t reach the top on my own. It takes a team effort! Working together we can tackle this.
  1. Shut those gates at night and fix the broken hole in the back wherein access is possible 24 hours a day.
  2. Bring in night lights to accommodate all kinds of people, be they with special needs or typical folk.
  3. Control the entrance but don’t make this a profit-venture that turns those with no money away. Those with no money CAN’T AFFORD to pay $5 each time they want to skate. 
  4. Create some form of organized events to pump more energy into the park.
  5. Paint the walls with stories. Let’s have murals. Storytelling rocks and is educational!

So what do you say? We may all come from different socio-economic backgrounds and have our own beliefs, yet that should not impede in our common goal to be loving and kind. That’s universal and transcends our unique pasts. 


I thank the police officers for their response yesterday. I take my hat off to each of you with deep respect. You have a tough, but necessary job in the community and we count on you, as well as all other civil servants.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Just Say Yes! Waking Up & Transforming Our Hearts / #skateboarding #awareness #youth #Scalzi #socialgood

It was made clear to me last night in the darkness of Scalzi skatepark in Stamford, Connecticut why there is hesitancy to bring in night lights. “The crowds it would bring…” I realized that the skatepark would be inundated with people from far-flung places. As skateparks go, Scalzi is definitely not top-of-the-line, yet it is one of the best in the region along with the one in New York City just outside of Chelsea piers. 

Last night I stayed longer than usual and saw the park transform, and not for the better. A small crowd of middle school boys and girls drinking, smoking and going into the bushes.  I remember picking up used condom wrappers outside the skatepark fence, leaflets talking about the spread of AIDS and I wondered what would happen to them if they were pushed out and a new crowd would come in. Where would these kids go? What would happen to them? Surely, they would find some other place to party and unwind. So I stayed a bit longer in the darkness with them practicing my skating taking tips from a new skateboard acquaintance who seemed to separate himself somewhat from the children. 

My heart was sad. One of the young boys called one of the girls, who seemed no more than 14 years old, a slut. Being a father, this is hard for me to take in. At the same time, I am relatively new to this skatepark community and am not going to come in with a tough & direct approach on these kids who have been left to their own devices. Looking at young woman straight in the eyes until she finally brought her gaze to me, I said to her, “You are not a slut!” This was countered quietly and it was voiced that she was indeed a slut. I stayed quiet. Perhaps she was, yet she is also a human being, she is also a child and I know too well that people can change for the better and wrong patterns stand to be broken when we come with lovingkindness. Almost immediately, one of her friends, I can’t tell which for reason of the darkness, perhaps even the same one who uttered the insult said that she was not a slut. I rejoiced in my heart.

We Have To Start Somewhere

 There is work to be done. My sleeves are rolled up and my skateboard is in my hand and my heart is on my sleeve. These kids do not need someone arresting them and throwing away the key. That fixes nothing. These kids need better examples. The idea of social responsibility clicked deeper inside of me. Somewhere in me sadness and courage mixed with compassion. Calmly, humbly I approached the children who were breaking glass on the floor and littering with stolen goods. In the most non-threatening, friendly voice I could muster, I said I was the one who was cleaning up the garbage in the mornings, and if possible, that they keep the park clean. One of the boys responded in a calm voice to me affirmatively that they would keep it clean. I will see this morning what the skatepark looks like. They are just kids. After some time, I said my goodbyes and… I said to them, "God bless you guys."  I was happy that the bunch responded positively with their tone to this and also bid me farewell. They could have stayed silent to me. They don't know me.

On my way home I realized that I want to be a presence there at night, as much as I can. I don’t have all the answers and I am wondering what I can do. I went home and prayed. I have a daughter and it pains me to see children live like this. You don’t see this in the more affluent neighborhoods. It would cause a ruckus.

We still need those night lights to transform the park. My goal was three-fold, but now I have added to it another goal. Will it be achieved? Not on my own power. This will require a team effort. It takes many hearts to turn the tide around. I would like to bring awareness to the parents with children who have executive function deficits, ADHD or special needs, such as autism, that skateboarding is a magnificent therapeutic activity for the development of their children. With the growing success of this goal a new influx of ‘locals’ would be venturing Scalzo skatepark. This would begin to crowd out skateboarders with greater experience levels and most probably bring ire upon me, hence the night lights would create space and time for the skateboarding community to enjoy the facility, rather than be jam-packed into only using the park during natural light hours. As you can imagine, as winter sets in, there is less and less time to skate. My third goal is to be a help in revitalizing what the park can be for non-special needs skateboarders. Things are in motion already. Just a few days ago I made a new friend, Chris, a father and skateboarder. He mentioned that he new of some talented, busy artist who he’d ask to see if he’d be interested in painting murals on the skatepark walls. No promises. This would be most awesome. I have painted the park graffiti over with white paint and it looks hideous:), yet better than before. The murals would paint a story! Storytelling! How wonderful I thought. This goal, would be out of my hands. I can do my part with my constant presence, by ensuring no distasteful graffiti goes on those walls, by picking up the garbage of the children, by being a teacher of the heart, which is my fourth goal. :) 

We each have our talents and together we can pack a master punch if we work together. I envision with others tournaments, or at least some form of organized events that offers something to typical skateboarders, and those with special needs...  perhaps an expansion of the park with an inverted ramp.

I am open to better ideas. Let this not be about me, but for our youth, for our community.  We got this if we want it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Suspending #Apathy in the Age of #SocialResponsibility / #socialgood #epicCommitment #children #America

We live in a chaotic, tumultuous  time. What is right seems wrong and what is wrong seems right. 

Truly, the constant pain and grief experienced by families who have put forth their children to serve our land cannot be fathomed. What can be said when a police officer is gunned down? What do you tell his mother? What do you tell his son? How is that son supposed to not get jaded growing up in a society which makes light of killing cops through music and a pervasive attitude to buck that which upholds communities? What happens to mindsets when this reality continues unabated? 

I see the pain and anger in the face of many of our fellow police officers…even when they smile.    The fact that it is their duty to go all out for our protection at every moment does not get lost on me. Surely, we have many days of relative peace and daily life can appear to seem monotonous. The lady cop directing traffic is not performing rocket science as she waves cars and people on by. From this small vantage point, it is easy to forget that that same officer must remain mentally sharp and ready to spring into action for you and me. That same officer must maintain a heroic mindset… a selfless mindset, ready to pay with her life in order to keep the peace.

It breaks my heart. Does it break yours?

I know some of them. I am thankful they smile back at me. My late-father was in the U.S. Marines and Army. I have deep respect at every moment for those who serve us. It does not matter that they are standing by the construction road crew fixing the street looking like they are just standing there. I know better.

 It’s not what you do, it is who you are! It is what you are ready to do for me and others. 

Moving forward

As a community, how can more of us join hands to turn the tide of apathy that runs rampant? Indifference is an easy option. Do nothing. Let others be concerned with the social tears in our fabric. You are busy. You must work. There is a party to go to. Beers to be drunk and good times to be had. There are places to travel to and all sorts of entertainments for us…. just like it was in the days of ancient Rome. Every major city has its coliseum. Mindsets are routed towards the next sports game in an unending cycle of distraction while kids grow up forming (usually by default) their sense and place in this world. 

As the touchdowns are scored and the televised sports championships are won, children get a sense of the expectations of what life is about. Kids are human too and are quick learners, perhaps too quick. Left to their own devices some take matters into their own hands. Hence, school shootings are a form of grotesque communication, criminal gang life is an attempt to find love and comfort, prevalent drug use numbs the pain of the reality that is set before them. Officers tend to step in when things get out of hand. 

What if we were to temporarily suspend our apathy for a bit as an experiment and see where we as individuals can make a difference? No one is saying that we have to foment a world-wide movement of lovingkindness, but can you and I foment a personal movement of lovingkindness for each other? Instead of being quick to pass judgement and turn our backs on strangers, can we break the pattern and see what happens? Unconditional love is required to break apathy in half. Apathy (the opposite of love), waits for us to grow tired of caring. Let us give apathy a counter-punch of resilient, nurturing love that it cannot get back up anymore.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Our #SocialResponsibility to #Police Officer #RandolphHolder / #UnconditionalLove #guncontrol #community #socialgood

Unconditional love keeps its strength
in the face of hopelessness

It won’t let itself be bought
It won’t let itself be sold

Real power comes not in material possessions. 
Real power is not measured by the size of a bank account.
It does not emanate from some geographic location. 
It is not found in the power of the gun, or the fist. 
Real power emanates from hearts that love unconditionally.
This kind of power is very real and present. Some of it keeps communities safe and sound. It keeps families calm knowing that this power does not go to sleep. It is on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, year after year, without rest.

The hearts that pump this love forward work relentless hours. Always on-call. Ready at a moment’s notice to answer the call of duty. Some of us honor them. Some of us judge them. Some of us don’t care about them. But all of us are taken care of by them.

These hearts belong to hero’s. They have names. One of them is Randolph Holder. They are part of families. They are son’s. They are daughter’s. They are Mommy’s. They are Daddy’s. They are brothers and they are sisters. 
You know them. 
You see them in the community.
They say hi to you.

These are the police officers that protect America's communities. Always ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice. An army of love ready for us. To save our life, even if it means that they lose their life.

That’s unconditional love. When you love someone regardless of them loving you back. Randolph Holder proved his unconditional love for people like you and me while he was alive and now he proves it in his death also. That is true wealth. When you expect nothing in return for your love. That makes the giver of love rich in deed, filled with true wisdom and understanding about what really matters in life. It is a very real reality that police officers and their families must face every single day.


Bring gun control NOW to our communities. Police Officer Randolph Holder should be home, not in a coffin. He was shot dead by a gang member in New York City. How many more Randoph's must die? He was a young man of 33 years. 33 years old... dead. He will not be able to raise a family. He will not raise a son or a daughter.

How many children must be caught up in criminal life that leads to encounters such as these? Randolph Holder was a hero even before answering the call of duty and paying with his life. He knew this could happen. That makes him a hero before he was shot. 

Having stringent gun control laws in place does not solve everything, yet it could have allowed Randolph to come home after doing his duty to protect and to serve.

Where does our #socialresponsibility begin? When does our transformation as a country go into higher-gear? It is time to tackle this issue head-on. It is time we rise up for each other. That is what we have at the end of the day.. each other.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Being The Change / #positivedisruption #socialgood #empathy #community #unstoppable

How do we pay as individuals and as a community when we tune out?  

How can the tides be reversed? 

What can one person do?

Does the social fabric of society begin to unravel when we just look out for ourselves and only our own?

The issues before our community appear gargantuan in scope.  Caught up in the daily grind of making ends meet it may seem like a luxury to stop and afford our own time to positively impact another life. What shall we do?How do we do that? No one requires us to care. At some point down the line though, not exercising empathy for others takes a toll on each of us.

Not caring closes up your heart and changes your mind. Children ‘grow up’ and take matters into their own hands…sometimes with guns. Soon enough,  low-income neighborhoods begin to look like the wild west. Adolescent boys and young men band together for security and second-rate love within gangs. Their mindset is not one of how to make their community better when they are involved in criminal gang culture. 

Matters get worse. Cops who are Daddy’s, and brothers, son’s and mothers step in to do what they can to ‘hold the line.’ This is not so evident in up-scale neighborhoods, yet it is a dramatic reality in low-income neighborhoods. Almost daily we hear of a child shot for no reason, or a Dad working as a police officer who gets taken down on a dare (for bragging rights) between gang members. The anger in our hearts rise and the pain does not subside. Nerves get pushed to the hilt. Accidents happen. All the while, those we honor in our parades, our civil servants become over-taxed emotionally  (as do their families who bear with them) cleaning up the pain as best as they can. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of my main role models, proclaimed Ghandi's idea of focusing on social change in non-violent, empathic ways. They were right. We do have to be the change we want to see in the world if we are to change the world for the better. Their is no way around that fact. We can’t change people. We can only change ourselves, yet others can see our example and decide for themselves if they want to also be a force for positive change. A force for positive disruption, one day at a time. The old 'band-aid' ways do not work. We need to be more. Being more for each other starts in our heart and moves on out from their into the world, like ripples on a pond. With commitment, with consistency and an open heart, our caring actions will cause not a ripple effect, but a tidal wave that starts to spread across the community, heart to heart. 

Are you unstoppable? Be #HotterThanFire4Others. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My #Interview w/ #Olympic-level, #Boxing Coach & #SocialEntrepreneur, @CaryLeeWilliams #HotterThanFireForOthers

Raising energy 
requires consistency. 

Maintaining momentum 
requires clear working purpose. 

Moving hearts to impact minds 
requires talent.

In the world of sports, such thoughts are always on the forefront of a coach's mindset. She understands that the inside affects the outside, and the outside affects the inside. Aware of this, a great coach is also a mentor to her players. Her attitude gives direct and indirect expectation cues to the player's, hence (SunTzu time) it is vital that the coach protect, direct and develop herself just as the players are doing so.

Cary Lee Williams is one such coach. 

Recently, I had the fortune to interview, Mrs. Williams. Amongst other titles and hats, she is an entrepreneur, a boxing coach, a mentor, and is the founder of a clothing line called, Never Too Pretty. She is well-known in the boxing world as industrious, a go-getter, and because of her incredible drive, she is also known as a  source of inspiration.

I recognize the strenuous use of executive function skills and the toning of so-called ‘soft skills’ as hallmark life skills that get worked out while in the boxing ring. I wanted to increase awareness to what she is about.

Question 1

Coach Bill: Mrs. Williams, you are an elite, Olympic-level boxing coach, running a multi-facseted business enterprise and are an active member of your community. Though some may call boxing a violent sport, you are refashioning and reformulating boxing as a tool and strategy of empowerment for Moms and daughters. Boxing requires a plethora of executive function skills firing off simultaneously. Being [able to anticipate and predict] the movements of one's opponent is a major EF skill, known as foresight. Beyond that, the cultivated sense of empowerment that a women can get from 'knowing' she can appropriately defend herself impacts how she operates in her life from that time on.

Mrs. Williams, motivation is a key to engaged learning. From your experience, what kind of transformations and changes have you observed in Moms and daughters? Is attitude impacted? 

Cary Lee Williams: Attitude is the first to be impacted! This sounds cliché but, once a
person learns how to throw a proper punch and gets a better understanding of
the sweet science, they become empowered and that strength exudes to the
outside world. They say attitude is everything and I would agree. If others
perceive you to be strong, you will be strong! When I ask mothers and
daughters how they feel after learning boxing, they always say they feel
stronger. This leads to confidence and confidence is the key!

Question 2

Coach Bill: Cary, I have been seeing your you tube videos. Movement, agility, focus and foresight (anticipate/ predict) seem to be priorities for the expert boxer. 
What kind of changes do you see over time, specifically in the young girls whom you coach?

Cary Lee Williams: There are a lot of changes that occur in young women as they progressively learn how 
to box. I will take a teenager I worked with 10 years ago to give you an example. She came into the club overweight and with exercise induced asthma and not a lot of self-esteem.  Because she felt like an outcast with her peers, boxing seemed to be the right fit for her since it is more of an individual sport. She came in 5 days per week and worked hard! After about 1 year she had lost weight, her asthma was gone and she held her head high! 

Of course the physical and mental strengths usually go hand-in-hand but she also got another benefit from the sweet science. Boxing opened her mind to possibilities. Possibilities are endless because you know you are strong enough to prepare for battle and at that point nothing is unachievable!

Question 3:

Coach Bill: Cary, boxing involves strategy and sequencing. Being able to read, anticipate and predict the opponents moves while setting up one's own moves makes boxing a very mental sport. The natural development of executive function skills, our ability to manage and orchestrate ourselves, fires forth in the ring.

As a business woman, what are a few skills that transfer over from the boxing ring?

Cary Lee Williams: As an entrepreneur I would say that most people innately have an entrepreneurial spirit. It isn’t really learned. If anything, my entrepreneurial spirit helped me in the boxing ring! It takes a unique person to have the fire, drive, determination and lack of fear to step into the squared circle.
But I will say that boxing did help me with business in that you understand that it takes a lot of time and perseverance to master something.  Also, it has always been difficult for me to do monotonous work or have patience. Boxing definitely helped me with that! To perfect even a jab, you must practice it over and over again! It is monotonous and requires more patience than you know, especially when you are used to getting things correct immediately!

Question 4

Coach Bill: Can I go a few rounds with you in the ring?
 I'll make an appointment. Don't beat me up.

Cary Lee Williams: I am retired from the ring!

Thank You, Cary. I appreciate your time. You are a role-model to me and a source of inspiration. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Taking Care of the Players Heart and Mindset is a Coach's Job / #edchat #edtech #sports #SunTzu #strategy

A great coach is sensitive to the homeostasis of the players and maneuvers with #foresight (anticipate/predict) to not just quell and redirect, but address the root of  issues as they pertain to the performance of the player. This is a fine line that is walked. Far from getting psychological, a coach is a mentor acting always in a supportive and guiding capacity and not with a 'let's sit down and tell me about your childhood' focus.  The player is valuable, the mindset..the heart set, these are non-tangibles that a great coach..mines.

A coach who minds the players sees the player as a human being, not some compartmentalized robot intent on simply winning games. Gathering information on how they are feeling helps the coach help them reach optimum performance levels as we work together. This is how I run my sessions always. 

Achieving excellence on the court or playing field then truly becomes a two-way street between coach and player(s). Sun Tzu illustrated this understanding again and again in his 2,500 year old masterpiece, The Art of War. In his writings, Sun Tzu, delineates the importance of valuing the welfare of the soldiers, maintaining a loyal army and addressing issues before they flare up.

When I work with my students, I know from experience that I must approach them with all my observation skills full-on, and if you can accept it, with all the heart too. We can all tell when the heart is brought forward. A coach who puts his heart forward for his players wins them in the end and does lead them on to winning, be it championships, victories, a world-series, or what ever the challenge may be.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Beginning of #PositiveDisruption: An Exercise in #SocialGood / #sk8 #Scalzi #Stamford #Connecticut

It is easy to be dismissive of the plight of others when we are conditioned to mind our own and pull for our own. It is understandable. Minding my own business is also a lesson I have learned.. sometimes the hard way. YET, MY BUSINESS IS other people. Minding others is my business. Minding the hearts and minds of my players, which includes my children, is part of my purpose. 

I am a teacher, a private Special Educator who works with families and individuals with executive function concerns and/ or on the autism spectrum. My perspective is outward and conditioned to see and feel through the eyes of my players. This helps me calibrate my approach and increase the possibility of a successful outcome. Being highly-sensitive allows me to be quick on observation and instituting an instructional approach that will win.

Sometimes, because I work with people, I must completely humble myself in order to attain my goals. I am effective at this. I am great at disarming people using a soft/ hard approach making myself easy to relate to. 

Let me tell you a short story that is still unfolding..

Once upon a time there was a skatepark built for a community. Soon enough it entered its days of glory with local skateboarders performing incredible aerial feats. The walls of the skate pools were clean and bare. People would gather to view the ‘show.’ A few decades later the park remained, but had changed. Gone were the crowds. The inner walls were filled with graffiti, some of it tasteful art, some of it grotesque. Broken pieces of glass, trash and a sense of abandonment permeates the skatepark. It comes alive each day though by the will of the skateboarders. All the original contours of the pools are intact, but the glory is gone.

I want to be one of the many facilitators to bring the glory again to the park. With the help of the community we will polish this diamond, but only with the help of the community. This is too big for one man, or a gang of skateboarders. 

A vision: Clean walls, seating for spectators, night lights and an organized league complete with awesome coaches, uniforms and cheering parents.

Shoulder to shoulder we can make things happen. This is for us. This is for young and old. This is for the community. This is for all of us who love movement. This is the beginning of positive disruption.

Are you with us?

Algorithmic Patterns Learned While #Surfing / #coaching #ASD #parents #athletics #science

A surfer lets go of the need to control outcomes in the water knowing that he is in something bigger than himself. All he can do is ride his board as gracefully as possible. With some experience he situates himself at the right spot at the right time, and have the ride of his life.

Analyzing wave patterns and their timing, riptide channels, sea floor contour and how the wind interacts with the wave, an experienced surfer takes it all in and moves in sync with all the patterns. Suddenly, the surfer and the water are one, and not two separate entities, yet still retaining their original nature. Two, yet one. The natural algorithmic practice of positioning oneself in tune with breaking waves is a practice of letting go and letting that which is natural physically and mentally move us. Repetition of such a lifestyle activity does go deep into the grain of one and changes you from the inside out. Outside the water, our brilliant minds make connections left and right. This generalization and understanding of patterns is a life skill. 

The mind is always looking to make connections and relate learning. New thinking patterns create new perspectives. New perspectives impact further thought and action. The person changes as their brain actively rewires and makes actual new neural connective thought highways. Surfing will benefit everyone, YET the biggest improvement in cognitive development will be most felt by children and adults with special needs, like autism.

What are we doing as a community to get real about what works? It is no longer business as usual.

 It is time to #bemore for each other. To #accomplishmore.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When the Student is Ready, the Master Appears: Syncing Hearts, Bodies & Minds, a Poem & Thought Release

I don't find my students.
I put my bread in the water
and the students find me.

Where is his strength? Is this the teacher?
I see now.
Let's do this.
I got this!

A great coach role-models, leads, supports, instructs, guides, corrects, mentors... and gets out of the way. Coaching then, is an art of balancing the player's strengths, fleshing out talents, strengthening deficits naturally and nurturing the mind and heart to reach higher levels of performance. Learning is not just a solitary action anymore with this understanding, but a humbling mindset that opens the mind to receive. 

A central tenant to coaching duties is being able to impart knowledge so that learning can happen. The effective transfer of intellectual property comes easily when you seek to engage the mind via the heart first. Understanding that the mind and heart move the body, just like a small tiller directs a large ship, a great coach becomes sensitive to the player's wellbeing. The coach KNOWS that the emotional/ mental status of the player affects game play. Consider Tiger Woods and his success & 'failures' in golf. Did his golf ability suddenly disappear one day and come back the next? No. The peaceful mind and heart sees and acts clearly. No storms within spell great focus and vision. Channeling what is inside and bringing it out in a positive manner takes finesse, experience and dedication to the development of oneself.

How are you developing yourself today? If we improve 1% every day, if we grab on to passion again, the passion to move forth, then in 365 days we will have moved 365%.

Let's move together friend. #ShouldertoShoulder 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Waking the Body & Mind / #coaching #flippedlearning #realworldskills #autism #sk8

The growth of a person cannot be lopsided. Inner and outer growth has to be balanced for optimal results.

Working with a mindset that everything is possible, I meet my students in a place where there are no limits. Usually, I am always at this location first and then guide in (beam in) my student. With the right approach, a great coach can move a student quickly far beyond what they ever dreamed of once mindsets are shifted.

Progress in skateboarding exemplifies this.  Like most endeavors, 'success' springs forward with practice, dedication and commitment. Not just committing to skate, but committing to moving beyond a present skill level. Thus, the mindset is not, "I want to do awesome skateboarding and get really good at it." No, the mindset is, if I just keep at it, little by little, one day at a time, before long I will move across the skill continuum to become a skilled boarder. Skateboarding is engaging and demands mental acumen to be proficient or great at it.

So, even if this sport strengthens ankles, legs and core, it is actually a mega-workout for the brain requiring instant grit and an immediate mindset shift to a 'learning-mode.' Step into this humbling mode and the mind becomes open to learn in an engaged manner. The student becomes motivated with the roller-coaster thrill that accompanies skateboarding at a skatepark. The coach facilitates the perception that the activity is viewed as recreational and fun. Learning is then stored and categorized differently in the brain. This positive experience co-created by the student and the coach sets precedent for the next time. Finally, a great coach will aid in extrapolating and generalizing success in one area and show how the same skills transfer across into other areas of life.

The Propaganda in Our Hearts & Minds / #positivedisruption #criticalthinkers #democracy

Not only does human slaughter of the fruit of a woman’s womb promote the idea that we are disposable, but a people’s will to stand up ...