With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Friday, February 28, 2014

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

An email from Jennifer Siebel Newsom and the Representation Project team (formerly Miss Representation) informed me that this is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. Eating disorders are officially recognized as a national health issue and it's estimated that 24 million Americans currently struggle with some form of the illness (Do Something - 11 facts about eating disorders). Newsom and her group work on the media's damaging contribution to people's concern about their bodies. They state that "3 out of 4 teenage girls feel worse about themselves after looking at a fashion magazine for as little as 3 minutes."  Well, no kidding! How about 9 out of 10 grown women? (my own estimate).

Last week when Aden and I got our toenails done; we each grabbed a magazine and then I spent the entire time worrying about what she was reading and how it was affecting her. We don't get any fashion magazines at home (any more) but the images of idealized men and women are everywhere: in magazines, TV shows, TV commercials, billboards, websites, computer games, doctors' offices libraries, and schools. How do we combat the pernicious message that we all need to be identically coat-hanger thin (or streamlined and buff) in order to have value?

I have struggled with disordered eating; the problem was rampant at Harvard and is still an issue on college campuses around the country (see (Do Something - 11 facts about eating disorders). The problem afflicts strong, intelligent women and men across the country, from Michelle Duggar, the conservative Christian mom of 19 who struggled with bulimia as a teen (USA Today - Michelle Duggar) to singer Ke$ha (ABC News on Ke$ha), to boys in wrestling and other sports trying to make weight. It seems to me the only way to stop the cultural / media pressure on us all to have the perfect body is to call it what it is: insanity. We are all supposed to be different - like snowflakes, remember? No two alike, no one standard of perfection. Disordered eating can lead to serious health problems, even death, and we need to tell our sons and daughters that the pressure is crazy, that the people who orchestrate fashion standards are just selling something, and that our kids' health is infinitely more precious than a photo-shopped and airbrushed picture.  If you want to contact the Representation Project and get more information, go here: http://therepresentationproject.org/ and if you want resources to help someone who is struggling, go here Proud2beMe. Let's stand up for ourselves and our kids.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sneizures

Yesterday was a challenging day. I'm still fighting off a sinus "thing," so I had sneizures* (combo sneeze and seizure) all morning long. I was late to my appointment in Boulder after a 5-car pileup on I25, though my spiritual director was also late, so I had plenty of time to twiddle my thumbs, check email, ponder my reasons for existence and inhale the stuffy nicotine-scented air of the lobby. After the appointment my spiritual director informed me that OZO coffee had a delicious drink of powdered cacao in hot water, so I cruised over there for a tasty treat - but spilled half of the $3 cup in the parking lot as I fumbled to find my keys. Three dollars for a small cup already seemed extravagant, so I treasured the few expensive sips I had left. Last night I nearly blinded myself with my small overhead reading light, and dreamt of UFO's.

So the day was fraggled, and last night I had to struggle a bit for reasons to be grateful. As always, the reasons appeared as soon as I hunted for them - just like keys in the bottom of my purse. To list a few: House Bill 1202 passed out of the House Education Committee, so the fight is still on to study cost /  benefits of high stakes testing and hopefully to delay the advent of PARCC. Rob took the kids to water polo, where they had a great practice and learned a new offense. The dark chocolate I tasted was good enough to make up for the drink I spilled, and my appointment with Dominie - though shortened - was helpful in many ways. As I wrote these down, I was reminded of Pastor Cindy Bates' concluding sermon at our church  last Sunday. Pastor Cindy said that in her 35 years of serving the church she had seen many difficult moments, but "there was always more light than dark, always more love than hate, more good than bad."  I don't want to trivialize the profundity of this statement by comparing it to a drink of powdered cacao, but sometimes goodness has the edge because of a few sips of bliss. Wishing you some chocolate in your fraggle, more good than bad, more light than dark, more love than hate.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hug It Out

Here's an anecdote from teacher and author Tara Brach:

"About twenty years ago, a close friend and I drove to southern Virginia to attend a retreat led by Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. At the closing ceremony, he asked us to choose a partner - I turned to face my friend - and bow to each other. He then instructed us to hug our partner while taking three conscious and full in-breaths and out-breaths. With the first breath, he said to reflect, 'I'm going to die'; with the second, 'You're going to die'; and with the third, 'And we have just these precious moments.' After slowly releasing our embrace, my friend and I looked at each other through our tears."
- from True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart.

I've heard of holding a hug for at least three seconds, but these phrases put the intimacy of a hug in a different, more precious, light. Hanh's words remind me again to focus on the now, and above all to appreciate the people and the love in my life. This story brings to mind a statistic I heard at a school district meeting last week: the average parent spends just two minutes a day listening to his/her child with undivided attention. Attention as a full - (eye) contact sport, with no multi-tasking allowed. The speaker called on us to raise the bar to five minutes each day - one that seems attainable. Aim for three-second hugs and five minutes of attention, with a greater appreciation of the people we love and the fullness of our lives.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Now We Can Sleep - Olympics Conclude

My naturopath asked me last week if I watched the Olympics and he told me a funny story about one of his other patients. She came into the office and said, "I'm exhausted, I can't sleep."  When the doctor asked how he could help she said, "it's the darn Olympics, I just can't stop watching." The doctor said one quick cure for her insomnia would be . . . to turn off the TV! I laughed, but secretly sympathized with his other patient. How can one turn off the ladies' figure skating competition with only three women left to skate and the gold medal undecided? I don't want to get the news in the morning paper, I want to see it happen, and send my supportive viewing through the TV to the athletes on the primetime tape, as if my armchair striving could still help them achieve their goals.

So no more twizzles, 720's, or supercross. No more lining up with strangers at the gym to ogle the biathlon races, and no more mornings where children rip the newspaper out of my hand to get the latest medal count. I liked this Winter Olympics more than any other in recent memory because of the shift toward dynamic young sports like snowboarding and freestyle skiing, dominated by young people from around the world who know each other and seem overjoyed by a great performance - from anyone. There was a good line in a Denver Post editorial two days ago that commented on the joie de vivre and good sportsmanship that comes from these new sports: " 'If I couldn't win, I'm so glad that the gold medal went to her,' said no ballsports player ever," was the comment, because some young snowboarder gave credit to the woman who beat her.

It was great for my kids to see the athletes' delight with any good routine or trick, regardless of the placement. Fun to watch the freestyle skiers all jump on the one dude who got a bronze medal and extremely touching to see the French freestyle skier give tribute to the young lady from the US who died a few years ago in a skiing accident. Gratifying in the extreme was a moment with William when we watched a highlight reel of Meryl and Charlie winning gold for ice dance. "They look just about perfect," I said, and he responded, "no one is perfect." He learned that perfection was not the goal, rather a job done to the best of your ability, after hours and hours of hard work. I'll sleep (well) on that tonight.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Driving Out the Drive to Learn

The men in Pod B of the GEO / ICE detention center in Aurora love to learn. More than twenty of them came to our final ESL class yesterday, and a good number earned a certificate for completing all of the classes and doing all assigned homework. On one of the homework assignments I graded yesterday, a detainee had written, "with my indurance i will someday learn all my inglish languge." I have no doubt that he will, despite the lack of opportunity, texts and teachers. Many detainees volunteered to read in English, which is difficult and involves a great deal of risk, considering the opportunity for making public mistakes. A few of the men were joking around before they read, letting off some nervous steam, which prompted a young man to rebuke them. He said, "en serio, man, en serio."  Take it seriously, man.

I wrote the words "En serio!" in my notes this morning as I listened to Ilana Spiegel from SPEAK for Cherry Creek. The Willow Creek Elementary PTO invited Ilana and Heidi Parish to come talk about their efforts to withdraw from PARCC and place a moratorium on high-stakes testing in Colorado. Here are some facts that I noted:
  • 15 - 20 days of the school year for 3rd to 8th graders will be impacted by high stakes standardized testing, which will now determine 50% of teachers' evaluations
  • if students underperform on the new tests for two consecutive years, districts may be allowed to fire teachers without further investigation or notice
  • In New York state, which implemented PARCC in 2013, the achievement gap between black and white students grew from 12 to 19 points on average 3rd grade English Language Arts (ELA) scores and from 14 to 25 points in 8th grade ELA scores. Math scores showed a similar increase in the gap.
  • Our district, CCSD, continues to lose $61.4 million in state aid every year, as the state funding is not adequate to cover the expenses - like testing - that the state has mandated by law
Our children have the desire to learn, just like the men in B pod. Unlike the detainees, they have teachers who want to teach, and districts who want to succeed. Unfunded mandates and high stakes testing are only setting up roadblocks on the road to student success, and parents need to speak up and let our legislators know that we take the success of our public schools very seriously. The public schools are not failing our kids - we are failing our public schools.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shame and the Biggest Loser

I'm being tossed in the roiling Sea of Shame today and I thought I'd follow Brene Brown's advice and share my thoughts and feelings. Hopefully giving them some air will make me feel less toxic. Here's the thing; I watched The Biggest Loser with my kids. For those of you who don't know what that is (lucky guilt-free folks), it's a reality TV show where contestants vie to see who can lose the most weight. The contestants enter as obese or morbidly obese in weight, with many unhealthy markers such as pre-diabetes or diabetes, heart conditions, or high blood pressure Over the course of 12 weeks they train many hours daily with certified trainers, learn nutrition, and make healthy meals. They all lose copious amounts of weight and end up much healthier than when they started. What's the problem with that? Turns out there are many.

The first issue is my own inconsistency. After learning that gung-ho, balls-to-the-wall training was extremely dangerous for me, and for others with health conditions, how could I enjoy watching other people train this way? My sister asked me that question when I visited LA, and I could only guess that a part of me still missed being a part of the train-until-you-puke methodology. The second issue came up last night at dinner, when my son said he felt . . . fat. I attempted to be calm, to patiently listen to why he felt that way, but I failed miserably. My children are blessed with the gifts of health and strength, and I think they are perfect - I wouldn't change so much as a hair on their heads. It hurt me deeply that my son didn't think about himself in the same way. When I said, "I don't want to hear you call yourself fat again," my wise oldest child commented, "Maybe you won't have us watch The Biggest Loser anymore."

Ugh. Can you feel my pain from where you are sitting? I told them we would not watch that show any more, especially after the finale, where the winning contestant lost so much weight that she appeared to be anorexic. I had not let them watch that episode - I had previewed it and decided it was too shocking and even dangerous for them to watch unhealthy behavior encouraged and rewarded. But after raising the issue, of course they had to Google it and then we had to discuss how the winner had gone from being sick, to healthy, to sick again, and what that can do to your body. After getting so thin when I was sick, I didn't anticipate they would equate skinny with health, but that's apparently what their mom and their society push them towards.  I can only hope that deep discussions and different choices will lead to better outcomes in the future, and that my confession will somehow alleviate my shame.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

We're Creative, Not Messy

"You didn't let me finish, because I died."
- Vitruvius, The LEGO Movie

That's my favorite line from the Lego Movie (http://www.thelegomovie.com/), because I can vividly saying this postmortem as my children argue on, undaunted, over who will eat the last gluten-free bagel. There are a number of fabulous one-liners in this 95-minute commercial for Lego and unfettered creativity. My youngest is singing the ubiquitous theme song, "Everything is Awesome," as he puts on his shoes for school. He was begging me to download this song the minute we left the theater, but I think I'll hold off until the repetitive lyrics fade from memory.

I did like the messaging around the beauty of "messy" creativity and the idea that everyone is special with his/her own valuable ideas.  Will Farrell is great as the type - A businessman father who loathes his children messing up his orderly Lego city, one who super-glues the structures so not a brick will be out of place. Any parent can see the conflict inherent in that scenario, but the movie does a great job of showing a kid's point of view.

My kids split to their respective Lego domains the minute we walked in the door last night, and created brand - new ships, spacecraft, and supervillains. Though I foresee even more Lego sets in our future, the movie was at least supportive of the messy, disorganized and directionless manner in which we store our hundreds of multi-colored bricks. Instead of a mess, we'll just call it creative.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Democracy is a Process

The kids and I drove down to the State Capitol today for a House Education Committee Hearing on a bill regarding state testing and assessment. We were affiliated with a group called SPEAK  (Supportive Parents, Educators and Kids) for Cherry Creek, as Cherry Creek School District is our home district. It took me a few months to warm up to this new legislative effort, not because of a lack of merit but because I am so much more careful with my time and energy since my illness. What convinced me to get on board with the group - and to be active - was the fact that our state faces an unfunded mandate in testing. Colorado voted to adopt the PARCC test (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) http://www.parcconline.org/as our yearly assessment, and it moves us from a fill-the-bubble test to a computerized test, graded by algorithms. It might be the future to take tests on computers, but if the school districts have to foot the bill for innovation they may well go bankrupt.

Our school district has spent $10 million trying to ramp up equipment and professional expertise to take on the new test, which is scheduled to begin in the 2014 - 2015 school year. We have received only $290,000 from the state of Colorado - and let me assure you, the CCSD did not have $10 million in loose change just lying around. Rural districts are in even worse shape. Those districts that don't have working computers (or functioning facilities and current text books) are not going to be able to institute PARCC. They will not qualify for certain funds that are tied to the assessment and they may fall even further behind. Our district, which has fought to be fiscally stable and passed two bond issues in the past six years, is still going to lose teachers, para-educators, and elective opportunities for students if the heavy financial burden of the test comes to rest on its shoulders.

If you're interested in the work of SPEAK for Cherry Creek, check out its Facebook page, or email me and I can put you in touch with the parents who are volunteering their time to do this work. SPEAK is asking for: Colorado to withdraw from PARCC, a 3-year moratorium on high-stakes testing, a true cost-benefit analysis of the pertinent legislative reforms, and an option for parents to 'opt out,' among other things. I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

"Love is anterior to life,
Posterior to death,
Initial of creation, and
The exponent of breath."
- Emily Dickinson

Today is Valentine's and also our Family Day. Six years ago today we brought a 22 - month old Daniel to the US Embassy in Guatemala City and obtained his passport and permission to come home together. It's a special heavyweight emotional day for our family, and we celebrate by eating out together and sharing stories and words that mean "I love you." The most precious words the ear can hear and the most sacred the lips can phrase. I hope you all exchange an "I love you" today and really let the words fill your heart with deep and grounding meaning. It's all we have, and all we really need. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Your One Word

Just staggered through the back door with my gym bag and water bottles to be welcomed by a full load of laundry in the dryer and the evil green light on the dishwasher that says, "you need to unload me, too." At 7:30 am it seemed like a great to get the day rolling by throwing all dirty clothes and dishes into the wash, but returning sweaty and tired with my arms full I feel stupid for forgetting that I am the one who also has to take them out.  But I am nothing if not determined . . . so I sat down to write this blog instead.

My friend Judy told me that she has been experimenting with something she read - that everyone has one word that defines them. She's not sure if you are supposed to pick your own word or have someone pick for you, but she shared that mine would be "determined." Yes, that's true. Now I see the that word as replete with pitfalls and potential landmines where before I would have figured it was entirely positive. Can you be so determined that you exercise past your limits and wreck your health? Can you be so determined that you have to crawl before people realize you need help? Yes, and yes.

So how do I transform this word of mine? I can't really change it, and don't even want to, because determination has brought me a lot of gifts. But I do need to amend my definition and use of this trait. Can I transition into being determined to be kind to myself? Determined to be emotionally present and vulnerable with my children? Determined to . . . let go? (Don't hold your breath).

What's your word and how do you feel about it? If there is a challenge within your gift, how can you adapt and use it for the most good?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Does Your Face Light Up?

Back to Brene Brown today. I've just finished Daring Greatly and talked about the book with friends this weekend, especially the portions on parenting. Then I had coffee with a different friend this morning, who came to the table all set to persuade me to go watch the TED talks on Shame and Vulnerability given by Brown. Lo and behold my Kindle was open to those pages of the book! Talk about coincidence, or being in the flow, or the synchronicity of the universe, but it was quite timely.

Anyhoo,  there is a beautiful quote in the parenting section of the book that I must share with you. Brown is quoting the writer Toni Morrison, as she gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey in May of 2000. Morrison is talking about what happens when a child (your child) walks into a room.

"She asked, "Does your face light up?" She explained, "When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up.... You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you're caring for them. It's not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What's wrong now?" Her advice was simple, but paradigm-shifting for me. She said, "Let your face speak what's in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I'm glad to see them. It's just as small as that, you see?"
-Brene Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Simple, beautiful, and sometimes difficult, but not so difficult that we can't accomplish this small thing. When the boys burst into the door already fighting, or in tears, or when Aden stomps into a room loaded for bear, I can still look at them with love on my face and be glad to see them, at least for that moment. This goes for our spouse or significant other, as well. Let your face speak what's in your heart.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pot Poor Planning

I just read an article in the Denver Post that says 51 % of Coloradans believe that legalizing pot has been bad for the state's image, while 58% still support the decision to legalize ("Colorado Split on Legal Pot", Thursday, Feb 11, 2014). Put aside the fact that the figures come to 109%, indicating either a flawed poll or some confused folks, and let's consider the situation. Colorado is an experiment for legitimized drug use. What is the most at-risk population?  Kids under the age of 21, whose brains are still forming and whose decision-making processes are not up to snuff.

The risks inherent in this mess were brought home to me yesterday during my volunteer stint at the middle school. Apparently, up to eight eighth graders were investigated for possession of drugs and/or drug paraphernalia in a locker search that occurred over a week ago, and four were suspended. It is much easier to obtain pot now that it is legal in the state, and I have heard campus police decry the law for the troubles it will cause on campuses.  I also had an interesting conversation with my fellow volunteer, who has a student graduating from high school in May. She told me that students around the country are either 1) looking to come to Colorado for the possibility of legal pot use, or 2) looking to avoid or escape Colorado because of that same reason. She laughed somewhat ironically and noted that the class of students we are de facto recruiting aren't quite the same as the class who now want to leave. Just a few things to consider, particularly if you are the parent of a middle, high school, or college student now in the state.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Feel Your Presence

I am headed up to the Middle School today to help pass out books. The school has a great initiative led by their enthusiastic new librarian. They purchased copies of I,Q, by Roland Smith, for every student and adult on the campus. The money came from a donation, and the author kindly signed each and every copy. Now the entire population of the school can read the same book and discuss it in every class - just for fun. After reading, the school will collect donations of the gently used books and pass them on to one of their sister schools. A really cool idea!

As we toasted bagels and stirred yogurt this morning, I told my seventh-grader that I would be at her school for ninety minutes today. She paused and mentally ran through her schedule, then responded, "Well, I won't see you, but I'll feel your presence." She gave me a finger high-five and skipped off leaving me with a smile and a bemused expression.  Isn't that what we want for all of our loved ones, that they feel our presence even when we are not physically with them? To treasure each moment that we share and stamp ourselves firmly on their heart while feeling the engraving of their worth on our own. This only happens when we go deep and share vulnerable emotions and pieces of our stories. Her statement obviously has spiritual connotations, as well, and I want to point out to her that mine is not the only presence she can feel. We are all so loved, beyond what we can even comprehend. I'm so glad she knows that love from me, and can only point to an even greater source of strength and comfort.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Child Detainees

I started a new round of three classes at the GEO / ICE Detention center today. We are in our last rotation before starting over with the women, and today's class was a group of men from B Pod. Possibly due to the bitter cold which has kept all the detainees inside and stir crazy, we had a large group of 28. Class went well, everyone seemed focused and put at ease by my attempts to speak Spanish. As I went from table to table helping with translation to English, I was startled by the youthful appearance of many of the students. Several upturned faces barely had hair sprouting, with round faces and acne speaking of teenager-hood.

The guards came to take the 28 back to B Pod and as they filed past us, nodding and offering thank yous, it was again obvious how young a few guys were. I asked Rachel how old they had to be to be detained at the center and she said 18, but GEO/ICE has to go by whatever documents they have, and many of those are forged and inaccurate, especially if the young men are trying to seem older to get jobs. On a few occasions where these errors have come to light via found documents, the youths (as young as 16) have had to be held in a special populations unit, for their own safety. The young men I saw today were in blue uniforms, meaning that their only offense was crossing into the US without documentation. Now they are imprisoned, developing emotionally and mentally in an institution, with stays paid for by us the taxpayers. Something here has got to change.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Battle of the Books

Last night William participated in a "Battle of the Books" competition for all elementary schools in the Cherry Creek School District. It's a fascinating competition based on the idea that each team member reads between 7 and 15 books off the required reading list and then the team pools its resources to answer fairly detailed questions about any of the books. I did wonder, as I heard questions like, "This book had a deadline on July 4," and "This book started off on an unusually warm summer day," if perhaps we should be discussing the themes of the books, the lessons learned, or perhaps the emotions the books evoked. Then my competitive side scoffed at my new-agey side and condescendingly noted that you couldn't build a competition around themes and emotions.

Internal battles aside, William's team of four boys and two girls did well. They scored in the top six out of 22 teams and made it to the final rounds, where they suffered a bit of a setback. When we discussed the results on the way home, I assured William that the journey could not be judged by its final step, that he had to consider the success of reading the books, meeting every other week since October to discuss them, and winning the school competition, he said, "Oh, it's just like the Broncos and the Super Bowl." Indeed it felt familiar, and when I saw an article about John Elway's season-ending remarks I noted that he said much the same thing. For the first time in my life, I actually believe it, too - the hard work, self-improvement, and bonding with teammates really is its own reward. Maybe I've convinced myself in time to convince the kids, which would be the best prize of all.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flashback

Over the weekend we celebrated my dear friend Heidi on the occasion of her 50th birthday. As you can see from the photo above, Heidi looks more like 28 than 50, and many people accused me of getting her birthday wrong. They said, "she couldn't possibly be 50," and the answer is that she's not. She's young at heart and in spirit, healthy and strong, positive in outlook, and generous in every way. Those attributes belie her chronological age and ensure that she will be young for as long as I know her, and after.

It was so much fun to have the '80s theme to focus on; the outfits worn made me smile and laugh so hard that my cheeks hurt the next way - the best kind of sore! By going out on a limb with their outfits, hair, and jewelry, folks walked in with their social barriers down and set the stage for laughter and some funky dancing! Occasionally, when watching a husband - wife team get down like they were teenagers, I would picture the expression their  5th grade son or daughter would wear if they could witness the scene. I am sure the kids would have been horror-struck, but to me it was a great affirmation of the positive energy among our friends and in our neighborhood. It's amazing how fast the years go - Heidi said the person who helped her shop at H&M had not even been born during the 80's - but also fun to look back and see how many great experiences those years contain. Here's to more good memory-filled years.

Monday, February 3, 2014

You are the Prayer

I just finished a yoga class which had a wonderful title; "You are the Prayer." (And I mean just finished; the class was on YogaGlo on my computer so I am still sitting on my mat as I type). The teacher kept repeating this mantra, "you are the prayer, you are the one who prays, and you are the one who answers."  At first read it sounds glib, but after 45 minutes of deep breathing and posing with this mantra, it resonates with me. We pray a vital prayer with our whole body, our breathing, our heart, our mind, however we place our hands - we are the prayer. We are also the one who prays - that's easiest to grasp. But the punch comes with the thought that we are also the one who answers. That could be interpreted as God answering through us, tripping our awareness in some new way or through a new person or situation. It could also be interpreted as our higher self responding, in soft ways that we need to pay attention in order to hear. "You are the prayer, you are the one who prays, and you are the one who answers." Think about it.

And on more mundane levels, the Super Bowl was the worst football game in history. Broncos fans, including my girlfriends who texted rants and moans all night, were incredibly disappointed. But the headlines this morning calling out "shame" and "embarrassment" are out of line. Granted, the Broncos played badly but they were beat by the better team. It doesn't make sense to malign the individuals or call down shame on anyone. My husband noted that it must have been especially difficult after a week of hype and adulation, which made me think - best not to listen when people heap praise on you, because then you're able to tune them out when they criticize or try to shame you. To return to the theme of the day - you are the one who answers, and ultimately, we have to learn to seek approval from within ourselves.