Staying active in your summer break may be the best thing you can do for yourself. It might be the best thing for your kids too. Continuing to be part of your normal community through summer may allow you to make the progress you want. Stay with your routine.
Summer Vacation Misconceptions
For a long time people believed and propagated the myth that our schools have summer break because we have, or had, a farm based economy. If children were needed on the farm, it would be for spring planting and fall harvest wouldn’t it? Actually there used to be a break for just those reasons and not the extended summer one we have today. The school year in some cities were as many as 260 days.
More accurate reasons the current summer break schedule is the way it is have more to do with summer heat. In cities, buildings coming together create an oven and amplify the existing heat. When you are in a brick building all day with no air conditioning the heat is too much. Another reason is that more affluent people started taking trips or moving away from the city in the summer months. The middle class followed their lead. Dismissing school for the summer made it more convenient.
The importance of a break
It is important to have a break. How much break is too much? Three days may not be enough time to get some rest and refresh your routine. Almost three months seems like it is too long. At that point it takes another month or more to get back into what you were doing before your break.
How long do you need? Like everything, the answer to that depends a lot on you. There are experts doing studies and working on a number, but really, how you need to recharge will depend on you. Who you are, how you are wired, what you like, what your family situation is, and how creative you are.
Some generalizations can be made. When a student leaves school at the end May they are at a certain proficiency level. Most of them will have back slid, or be at a lower level when they return to school at the end of August. They will spend at least part of September catching back up to the level they were in May.
The importance of a staying at it
School systems have been debating changing the school calendar year for quite a while. While they continue to do that, you can choose to do things that make your break give you what you need. Avoid that back slide whether you are k-12, in college, or at a job.
Nothing comes from nothing has been said for a long time and it is still right. We all benefit from some structure. How much depends on you. Stay with your routine. Or at least most part of it. Staying with part of your normal routine over the summer will give you more benefits in the long term than doing relatively nothing for a few months.
Summer is a chance to get ahead. Instead of that back slide, stay with what you are doing. Continue to learn more about what you have been doing or start learning about something new. You have a routine for a reason, it should help you. Stick with it. If you need to mix it up, then do that. Play some games, try out new things, visit new places, but keep doing.
Stay with your routine
For some people, summer break becomes a time when they wholly retreat from normal life, stop seeing their “daily” friends, and disappear from their communities. That seems excessive. Stay with your routine, but take the time to make some adjustments and make it better.
Gandhi said our greatness lies in being able to change ourselves, not the world. We are paraphrasing, but you see where that is going. Self Control. You control what you do and what you say. You may not be able to change or control the whole world, maybe you can only change and control yourself. Excellent advice from a guy who did change the world. You control what you choose to do.
We all have some reactions we can not control. If you drop a hammer on your bare foot chances are high that you will recoil from you stood and make some strong verbal exclamations. The same is probably true if you slam your finger in the car door or touch a hot stove. Controlling your reaction to those instances is really not what we are talking about – though some people can do it. We are talking about more everyday common occurrences.
When your coach ask you to run one more lap, what do you do? Sure, you run, but what is your reaction to being asked for more? Do you and smile and pick up your pace a little or do you sulk and roll your eyes? What do you do when your boss asks you to revise that report, for the third time? You say okay and then go complain to your coworkers or do you say okay and ask some questions to help make the report better, and then go do it? When it’s time to go outside for recess or the game or whatever you wanted to do, and it suddenly starts to rain – what do you do? Does the gloom invade your day or do you choose to find something to do indoors?
How fast can you change your disappointment with the weather? Can you stop yourself from being disappointed with it at all? When you have to duplicate your work do you focus on the fact that you have to do it again, or on the fact that you have an opportunity to make it better? When you are tired and someone asks you for one more thing do you grouse about it, do you suck it up and do it, or do have the ability to accept it as something that is not negative at all? Can you develop that ability?
There will always be impulses and reactions that you default to naturally. Things that “just come out”. But you have choices. There a moment before that reaction comes out, can you use to change it to change your reaction? Can you practice having a different reaction?
The self control that seems to be most commonly discussed is about children and teenagers. Are they being disruptive or are they behaving themselves? Can they wait in line without causing a commotion? Can they stay in their desk during their school lesson? All of these are examples of self control, but many of them are learned skills.
After school or post-high school training is over and you are “Out in the real world” what is self control then? Do you continue to learn self control skills? Some people stop thinking about their own behavior as they become adults. Not everyone, but enough people do this that it is noticeable.
Is there someone at work who insists on interjecting themself in your conversation with another coworker? That would be okay if they have something useful to say. But instead everything they say is aimed at making themselves the center of attention. Whether it is adding in barely related facts to make himself look smart or jokes to make himself seem funny, he is putting his need for attention ahead of everything else that is occurring at that moment. He is showing a lack a self control.
What do you do when you are in a conversation and those around you are telling you things you do not want to hear? Is your immediate reaction, inside your head, to get defensive and argue with them. Do you do follow that or do you choose to react with something potentially better for everyone?
Before you can make a distinction on how to choose your reaction, you have to have some self awareness. You may laugh, but not everyone has it. Not everyone can look in the mirror and come close to seeing themselves as they are – a flawed human being. We all are. Sometimes, for some people, ego blocks the view.
This is probably particularly difficult for some parents. You want to be a good example for your child, and you want to protect them. Those are good things, but sometimes they evolve into bad habits. Some parents start to believe they have to be right all the time to be that good example. This leads to that ego problem. The need to be right over shadows facts. Eventually they lose sight of being a good example, and just know that no matter what they are right and everyone else, including the child, is wrong.
Some people just need to be right all the time because it is the only way they can validate their self worth. Instead of focusing on the good things they can do or the positive ways they can contribute to a group, they put up a facade as the person who knows it all and is never wrong.
To have the self control to choose your reaction, you must understand where you might be part of the problem within a conflict. You must understand that there are issues choices beyond the first thing that comes into your mind. There are other points of view that are valid and worth consideration.
Choose Your Reaction
The conversation example, where people tell you things you do not want to hear, is a good example because there can be some distinctly different outcomes. If your coworkers are telling you things you do not want to hear they must think the topic is important enough to possibly introduce some conflict. What do you do? Do you get defensive or do you listen to what they have to say?
Do you make your side of the conversation about you being right or do you put thath reaction on hold, and patiently let the others speak. Are you respectful and listen to what the others have to say? Is your mind open to the possibility that what they are saying are genuine concerns that can be addressed and resolved as a group, or do you make it all about your ego?
There can be hundreds of examples. Your teenager failed math, do you yell at him and ground him or do you talk to him about it. Not just the fact that he failed math, but why? Do you get frustrated when he says “I don’t know” or do you stay with it and help him figure out what the real problem is?
You have a new boyfriend and you are happy with him. You get a little nervous when he asks you to stop spending so much time with your friends that do not like him. What do you do? Do you give in to the nervousness and do what he wants because you are afraid he will break up with you or do you choose a healthier reaction? What does he really need? Does he need to control who your friends are (if that’s the case you are probably better off without him) or does he need to feel a little more secure in your relationship?
There are choices everywhere
Making choices is part of growing and maturing. Choosing your reaction to things happening around you is the next level of self control. It is part of what makes you an adult, rather than just someone who is getting older. The next time you are about to get upset at something someone said or before you jump into someone else’s conversation, pause for a moment. Consider what you are choosing to say and do. Consider whether or not what you are about to do is the best thing for you and the people around you. Is there a better choice? You may find that you have more options that you initially realized.
April is here, so even in Ohio we are bound to see some nice weather. It is time to get moving. Sometimes we as twenty-first century humans get caught up in our to do lists with work and kids and running from place to place and we forget to take care of ourselves. Have you ever taken a walk through your neighborhood and just felt better after you got home? Some days a walk is all you need to reset and feel a little better. Some days you need more.
How will you get moving?
Walking is a great place to start to get moving. If you want to feel even better, move more. Summer league team sports are good for some people. Others prefer more individual activity. Some people like to run. It helps them clear their minds. Others enjoy biking and the distances that can it take them.
This may sound a little bias coming from us, and it probably is, but Martial Arts is a great activity for people who want some of the team feeling and some of the individual focus.
You will get moving in a Martial Arts class. You can not help it. When an instructor is leading an activity you do it. That is why you are there. It is harder to stop and slack off when you have someone giving you direction. When you work with a partner, you have to get moving and keep moving. It is not only your time that you are using, it is also theirs. When you practice with a partner, you help each other grow and develop. That part feels more like a team activity.
Get some help to get moving
If you think you need a little help to get moving, get some. In a martial arts class you have an instructor to help you know what to do and how far to push yourself. You have your partner that you work with for that class to help you. You also have the other students in the class. Even though they may not be your partner that day, other students are typically very helpful when you have a question or need help with something.
Some people need help to stay active. They are okay to start but eventually get they distracted, or think they can not go any further, or become unsure what to do next. Martial Arts can help eliminate some of those challenges. Instructors and other students in class create a supportive environment that helps everyone in the class grow and develop.
We are speaking from our experiences here at our dojo. Not every martial arts school is the same. If you need an activity to help you get moving martial arts is a great choice. Make sure you find a school where you are comfortable. You are welcome to check out a class. We offer a free introductory classes, all you need to do is register. If you have any questions please contact us.
Sometimes when you make a mistake or lose at something, you dwell on it. Certainly it is good to learn from mistakes, but dwelling on them is a waste of time. Forget it. Start Over.
Athletes Start Over
When a player misses a shot in basketball, they can not stop and sulk about it. They have to forget it and start over. They have to make a new opportunity and take a new shot or they will not have a chance to win the game. The same is true for the baseball player who struck out last at bat, the golfer who missed par, or the martial arts competitor that lost their match.
When you are playing a game you do not have time to feel sorry for yourself for a miss or a mistake. If you think about that you will lose focus and probably lose the game. Besides, focusing on what you might have done wrong does not do anything to move you forward. There is no need to spend too much time on the negative thoughts.
Sometimes when you play a game, you lose. What matters more than losing, is your response. Do you pick yourself up and try again, or do you give in to feeling sorry for yourself?
Athletes are not the only ones who Start Over
Trying again after a loss does not just apply to athletes in a game. The same feeling of losing something can apply to things that happen at work or school. That is not a game. But you can still have control over how you react and what you can do. You can dwell on it, or you can start over.
If you did not pass a test for a class or certification, there is no sense in thinking about how much better things would be if you had. You have to briefly look at where the mistakes were then move forward by correcting them. Studying more about that area so you can test again and this time pass it.
When you are having a rough time with something, take a few minutes, get cleaned up or clear your mind and start over. If you get overwhelmed by your to do list, stop and start over. Take the time to re-prioritize that list and choose just a couple things you can get done and do them. One or two small successes will put you back on track.
If you have trouble learning something, start over. Go back to the beginning. You might hear the phrase Back to Basics. The idea is the same. When you start over, you give yourself a fresh start to be successful.
It does not have to be something as big as a new job, new school, or new house – but it can be. It can also be as simple as going back to a simpler way of doing something, taking a different route to work, cleaning out your closet/garage/basement, or starting over on an exercise plan. Starting Over is a good strategy to help yourself be successful. Patience with yourself usually helps too.
As the year winds down we hope you enjoy a happy holiday. We have enjoyed our year with all of students, and we hope you have too.
Watching the progress our students make is one of our favorite things. Everyone has things they struggle with. When we see someone put forth the effort and overcome that challenge it makes us feel good. Success at something that was a challenge, yours or someone else’s, gives you this feeling of inner strength that nothing else does. It gives you confidence or build on the confidence you already have.
That is the best gift we can give. The environment to help people find their inner strength and confidence. Certainly all the other skills we teach are excellent and useful too, but confidence is the probably the most important one. It transcends any environment and passes into the rest of your life.
It is also the most fascinating. You never know at what moment a student will have a break through and that confidence just forms.
Sometimes it is in a big break through but other times, most times, it is a small thing. The first time someone finished a kata on their own or the first time they punch the spot they were actually aiming for.
Confidence is a key ingredient to any success you will ever have. It is important for school, for work, for whatever home project or hobby you have. It’s that part that lets you try and put forth real effort in what you are doing. That effort turns into success and more confidence.
Like we said, we have enjoyed our year with our students. If you are not a student but would like to be, you are welcome to come in and give it a try. Sign Up for a free trial class.