Disaster in Gulf creates a challenge for us

All of us have been watching the disaster that is occurring in the Gulf with the oil spill.  I am not sure how anyone else feels, but I am literally sick to my stomach about this event and worried sick about what the long term effects are going to be on the environment and the people of these regions.

Since the first week I have asked myself, What can I do?  What could we as a school do to have some positive effect for the environment and the people involved.   I was paralyzed.  I not only did not know – but I was getting to a point that it was hard for me to watch one more minute of the reports.

Today though I came upon a group that all of us can help and I would like to propose that we find a way to do so.  Here is the website for you to look at. 


Which one of our students will step up and make a plan to get our school, city and county involved with some solutions to the problem.  Taking action is the right thing to do.  Sitting around and complaining about what others are not doing is not the way students at Balanced Life Skills want to react to challenges.  

open-mindedness: we are all the same

Over the past couple of weeks I have used an artistic symbol for tolerance when discussing the word open-mindedness.  In reality tolerance is not one of my favorite words.  To me it sounds or feels like we are just putting up with something, while not really having respect for the rights of the other person to think or do things in a manner that is right for them. 

In my studies of both religious and secular teachings, of people from all walks of life, it just amazes me how all of them (that I know of) teach much the same things about how to treat each other and how to be successful in life.  Their cultures may be different, their traditions may be different but the bottom line values, ethics and morals are the same. 

One of the subjects that I enjoy studying is peace, both personal and community.  The teachings of all that I have reviewed all come down to some very simple things.  When we mix with others who think differently or express ideas differently it enriches our own beliefs and strengthens our own respect for humans and life.  I once thought about writing a book about how different and yet how much we are the same. 

Here is a challenge for you.  Find someone to tell you how they celebrate holidays or about their traditions, challenges, concerns of the world.  Listen deeply and share your own traditions and ideas with them.   See what you learn and how you feel.  

Dependability: when we make a mistake

Recently I read a book about success.  The very first or second thing in the book was the question, Do you take responsibility for your life?  I thought this was interesting from the point of view that we hear individuals young and old who want to push off that responsibility from themselves onto anything else.  Then there is the thought that there is no in-between.  You either take responsibility all of the time or you don’t. 

When we take that responsibility is when we can begin to have success in life, because we recognize that the results we have achieved, good or bad, are the results of the choices we have made.

The same is true with the question of dependability.  Dependable individuals make mistakes.  But when they do they do 3 things.

  1. Apologize
  2. Take responsibility
  3. Make it right

 With the world filled with individuals who are quick to say, “It’s not my fault”, “It’s not my job”, “I forgot”, and every other excuse in the world, it is great to be around people who take the responsibility and in lieu of trying to lay blame, look for ways to solve problems or take on challenges that need attention.

That is what dependability is about. Being honest with ourselves and others, being dependable even when it is not comfortable, not making excuses or laying blame, is the way we act as leaders and we gain the trust of those around us.

Courage: Definition

CourageSeptember word of the month at Balanced Life Skills is Courage.  Courage does not mean that you never are scared.  Everyone gets scared or has fears.  This month we will explore this even more, to find ways to try new things, meet new people, stand up for what is right and make good decisions.   Our students will learn the role that determination plays in facing our challenges.

Young students:

Courage means: I feel brave!

Older students:

Courage means: The willingness to face fears and challenges with determination.

There will be more discussions on this site of this word to help everyone discuss it with their own children and to look at it more deeply with themselves in the coming month. Check back with us or you may join our community for even more information.


When life brings you lemons, make art!

It is always important to keep life in perspective when events sometimes seem like they are playing against us. No one has a life where everything goes our way. And if it did, how boring would that be!?!? Regardless though, the best we can do is take things as they come and make the best of them. Whenever something bad seems to happen to me, I always ask myself “what would i tell my students or someone else?”
In this case, it has been a pleasure to see so many good things come around over the past few weeks. One of them being this past weeks art show. This is the second year of this (hopefully) annual event and this years went well beyond expectations. The two young individuals responsible for this event are our very own Jackson, and his sister Ella. Jackson and his family are soon moving out of Maryland to take on new challenges and experiences. Jackson has been with us for nearly three years and it has been a joy of ours to see the progression he has made over that time. His family has always been a supporting foundation of our school as far as their support for what we stand for and what we are doing. While we will continue to build on this relationship, and hopefully train with Jackson in the future, we still wanted to put something together to show him and his family how much we appreciate their support over these pat years.

~Mr. Doug