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The Littlest of Hands-The most Resilient Person I have Ever Known! Bar-None!
The cliche goes like this, “Good things come in small packages.” Well, my friends, this is a massive understatement with regards to my wonderful niece, Stephanie Mayhugh, who was born in February of 1978, at a weight of no more than 2 lbs. 14 oz. Stephanie was a primordial dwarf.
Yes, that’s right, born at less than three pounds over thirty-six years ago, and at full stature she stood no more than three feet tall (32 inches)! Yet, Stephanie, lived a life of a Giant!
Through medical procedure, after medical procedure, she persevered! She attacked life with the gusto of the most resilient individual that I ever had the pleasure to know. She learned how to talk though she could barely breathe through a tracheotomy tube. She learned to sign to communicate with her parents, and to learn at school. She learned how to love, be comassionate for all, and cherish each moment she had on this earth due to the love and care of her parents and family!
She wrote poetry, songs, sang, played the drums in her high school band, volunteered at a senior center, she gave, and gave, and gave, more of her little self than most professional athletes give through their entire careers. She learned to get around on a scooter at school. She loved God, and always found peace in the world by smiling to others, and figuring out how to make things better for everyone, sometimes with a simple “Hi,” hug or kiss.
This giant of a little person was lost to those who knew and loved her on Monday, May 11, 2014. The battle to stave off illness became too difficult for her tiny body to continue to wage war on, and in a moment she was gone.
As part of my grieving process I wrote the following poem to honor our Steph, and I hope you read it, and re-read it whenever you find any doubt that you are important, and that you can make a difference to others.
The littlest of Angels was called to heaven, yet, her spirit shines like the sun each day in my heart, and in the hearts of the tens of thousands that ever had the pleasure to see and/or meet the one with the littlest of hands.
The littlest of hands:
The littlest of hands can hold the most love, ever!
The littlest of hands has the biggest heart in the world.
The littlest of hands can caress the biggest fears away from your soul.
The littlest of hands could calm the most frustrated, spread warmth and love as hot as the sun, and bring a smile to the world no matter what the day brings.
The littlest of hands can touch the sky, feel God’s light, and warm the coldest iceberg.
The littlest of hands can write the most eloquent of poems.
The littlest of hands can soothe the most anxious of minds.
The littlest of hands can reach into the soul, find the truth in life, and faith in God’s love.
The littlest of hands can can hug your face like a Giant might do.
The littlest of hands can keep the beat with the the Angles when singing any song.
The littlest of hands can paint a masterpiece with a few brush strokes.
The littlest of hands can touch you deep in your heart, mind and soul, and renew your spirit, love, and passion for life.
The littlest of hands can remind you of the need to connect with each other, the importance of family, and the power of God’s love.
The littlest of hands can hold the love of thousands and thousands of well wishers in her heart, and always have room for more.
The littlest of hands belonged to our Stephanie, my sister’s child, my brother-in-law’s child.
The oldest grandchild of my mother and father, and one of the strongest and bravest people I have ever known, our Stephanie.
The littlest of hands cherished God, and found peace tonight, as she slipped away to be held tight by God’s majestic hands.
The littlest of hands may be gone, yet the love she brought, the inspiration she provided, the passion for life she displayed to all who were lucky enought to ever have a chance to meet her, lives on, brings forth smiles, wonderful memories, and so much love that you would never suspect that it came from anyone else but an Amazon of a woman.
The littlest of hands, our sweet Stephanie Rose, I will remember your lessons each day. You made me a better person. Love you always!
Love Uncle Rob, Smooch!
If you are moved to provide a donation to support Stephanie’s wishes to assist other Little people please make a donation at your local Wells Fargo Bank in the name of her brother, Jared Mayhugh-Memorial Account. The funds will be used to assist children and families to attend conferences for Little People of America.
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It’s always personal: Transformational Resiliency in Action-Reflect-Persevere!
I don’t remember consciously focusing on my personal resilience as a young child, yet, as I take a moment to reflect on some of the circumstances that are the collective of my now distant memories, I find myself remembering many moments that provide for my current awareness of what it takes to support resiliency development in our children today. Each of these memories includes not just an environmental scene, they also include people. People who made each situation personal, the good, and the bad, they are both personal.
Family circumstance, environmental situations, cultural dynamics, educational setting, and personal motivation and resolve, all are important ingredients to our memories, and though they are not an exhaustive list. they are important when we consider the need to support, nurture, and assist children with developing into well-functioning human beings. Yes, there is more to be considered when we try to address the needs of each child that we aim to support, but these categories help us understand ourselves just a bit more.
Within each of these categories further lies personal connections that must be present and forged for individuals to connect with their world and flourish into healthy humans. There are relationships that must be invested in and built for our memories to become solid foundations upon which children can grow. There are also moments that we should try to avoid so as to not create unwarranted trauma for children that could stunt their development. Can we control all of the moments in a child’s world, no, nor should we seek to control them all, yet we can focus on building more positive moments each day.
Read and reflect about these questions for a moment:
-Does your definition of “family” define you?
-Are you simply a compilation of every environmental situation that you have ever been in?
-Was your personality defined by your cultural teachings, and are you limited by historical offerings about your “culture”?
-Are you only as astute as the educational settings that you had the good fortune or mis-fortune to experience?
-Did you simply decide to become who you wanted to be, and you arrived?
More than likely your reflective answers to these questions are complicated, and truly could only be answered by understanding and discussing a multi-layred web of connections between these categories: family, environment, culture, education, and personal motivation and resolve, are inter-twined, and each of these components, especially as they relate to each of us, hold’s very personal memories, filled with relationships, and connections to other people. Thus, it is safe to say that these multi-layered web of connections are built upon thousands upon thousands of personal moments that we have lived, and more than likely have lived with others in our environments, which makes them personal not to just one person, but potentially to many.
These inter-twined moments, these opportunities to be somewhere, anywhere, with another person, especially children, cannot, and should not be taken for granted, as each of them holds an opportunity for a memory to be formed, a light to be lit, a true opportunity to support resiliency development. The development of a child’s positive mental health, and an opportunity for continued positive growth of the mind, are outcomes that we want more of for our children, so it is incumbent upon us to be aware, be conscious, be present at each of these moments, as they hold an opportunity to change the world. We must further recognize that each time we have the chance to connect positively in a personal manner with others, especially children, we must use that opportunity for good.
Am I finished growing, developing, shifting, becoming resilient? Not even close. Am I getting better at understanding that what I do, say, don’t do, don’t say, can impact those in my environment? I’d like to think that I’m getting better, and I hope you are too!
Please follow me @ResiliencyGuy and @DrRobM_FSUSD and continue to always help all of our children to “Grow in Peace!”
Have you read this? If you have, read it again, and take it to heart, because your heart will want to continue to do the work that you do! If you have not, I ask you to please take a moment, take five moments, heck, take a half-hour, and consider the importance of each moment you have that is spent in supporting those in your life, especially your students or those you care for in your world.
It’s about making connections, being present for those in your world, and about knowing that you ABSOLUTELY MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!!
So many individuals have viewed this blog post, and I do hope that each of you have received some of the positive feelings that I intended to be felt by those who serve others. In my time as a student, educator, administrator, researcher, I have been fortunate to have met so many dedicated individuals that truly give of themselves on a daily basis to those they serve . This post is dedicated to those individuals who strive to connect, who work like mad to ensure positive environments for children, and to those that are just starting to embark on their careers to serve others. Thank you for taking the time to read, to connect, and for your service to students.
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You matter! You make a difference! You bring the world to those you love! You are an essential person! Never underestimate this!
You matter! Is it hard to believe that you make a difference? Is it difficult to accept the idea that as a unique person your impact on the world should not be understated? Have you accepted the plain truth that those that you come into contact every day are significantly changed by your presence, your demeanor, your attitude, your actions, deeds, follow-through, words, care, compassion, truthfulness, and love towards them. As a unique person your imprint on the world that you live in is simply the most amazing thing to behold. We often consider the unique fingerprints that we leave on the world, yet we forget that our entire being is actually leaving an imprint on our collective world that we exist within, and that we can actually control what that imprint imparts onto this world. When you think about it in this manner how might you focus your energies to realize a powerful, positive lifeprint?
You make a difference! To those that engage in your world you may quite frankly be the most important person in their day, either in a positive or negative manner. When you interacted, did you smile, did you greet them, did you nod your head, did you grunt, did you use words to acknowledge them, did you engage in meaningful conversation? How you approach the world is your purposeful offering to each day. You can choose to remain cloistered within yourself, or you can choose to seek out new experiences, entice new perspectives, and gain a new understanding and compassion for the world, the choice is yours. The difference we make comes from our willingness to engage, to be a part, to seek to be a multiplier in our world, rather than to be a negative force, and pull energy out of the relationships we could have. When you approach the world from a perspective of engagement, connectedness, and with a desire to provide support and love to those in your world you add so much to the world that you cannot simply quantify your true impact on the lives of others.
You bring the world to those you love! You might believe that those you love and those who love you may be an exclusive group that belongs to each other, yet, when I speak of love in this general term, you may be loved by an extensive group of people that you don’t consider loving each moment of each day. If you are a teacher, you may be loved by students. If you are a boss, you may be loved by your employees. If you are a worker, you may be loved by your boss, you get the point. There are those in our worlds that might actually care about you and your existence, and what you do on a day to day basis impacts them, even if you don’t believe this to be true. This connectedness is how our world works, and as such your world can and does enter into the world of those within your circle of influence. So, be aware, be conscious, be resolved to bring a positive world to those you love!
You are an essential person! It might seem obvious to many, however I have spoken with many grown adults who work with children, and there are those that have not accepted this type of thinking. In fact, you might be surprised at the number of people that don’t necessarily believe this statement. You are an essential person! Could it be that so many adults have endured their own trauma in their lives that even though they were able to make it through adolescence, college, and even start a career, that deep within them lurks a hurt child that may need to be healed? You are an essential person! It is important to understand that as those who serve we need to be mindful of our own inner thinkings, and work to be healthy oursleves in order to promote positive health for others. Recognize this, seek to ensure you believe you are essential, and continue your journey to help others.
Never underestimate this! You matter! You make a difference! You bring the world to those you love! It has been said that to overcome adversity takes resiliency. I would argue that from a research perspective, cognitive, and an emotional perspective that resiliency development can and should be fostered in each classroom, each school, each educational community, and to our broader communities. Further, this type of approach is not found hidden within the creases of a book, but in the true action of people just like you and I who come to realize that we matter, that we can empower others, and that our being here is a matter of great importance to the betterment of the world.
I hope some of these words impact you in a positve way, empower you to act to be more in tune with your world, and to engage through connectedness to those in your world, because why? Say it with me, YOU MATTER!
Plase continue to help children to “Grow in Peace!”
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In this brief video I offer a definition of Transformational Resiliency, outline a few of the issues that have ignited this passion to bring this message to the masses, and offer to you the conceptual foundation to an idea that I believe will assist those that seek to educate our children on many different levels. Further I being some inspiration to persevere in your efforts to improve environments for all of our children. I hope you view this, and that you are inspired to continue your efforts to build environments for children that support the idea of Transformational Resiliency.