Operation Letter of The Day: S

The letter of the day is S

Hello friends, it’s S day! Let’s get right to it.

S is for…

STAY HOME! I hope you are all STAYING home and managing to STAY SANE. I know it’s not easy and some of us are going STIR crazy. The other night, my #quarantinebuddy asked me what time it was and I responded, “Why? Do you have somewhere to go?” And then struck with hysterical laughter by my own bad joke, I almost fell off the couch. We all need more laughter. A friend from college recently published this very funny piece about being a mom locked down at home. It’s well worth a quick read.

I understand that healthy people can carry the virus and accidentally transmit it to our vulnerable friends and relatives, so that part of staying home makes sense. I’ve never been very good at math though, and this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer does a great job of explaining the importance of SOCIAL DISTANCING, the math behind the concept of “flattening the curve”, and the consequences if we don’t. Be SAFE, STAY home, and SEND me any ideas you have for these posts!

SLOTHS have a coping strategy that we can all learn from – they are often mocked for their slowness, but it’s actually a strategy they use to keep cool when temperatures rise. As we all try to keep our cool right now, this Smithsonian Magazine website explains how and why SLOTHS use this strategy of slowing down to survive. It’s also full of other terrific resources from virtual travel to games, some of which I’ll be sharing and many others you can check out yourself. My friend Sarah over at Obligatory Traveler has actually met and pet real live SLOTHS. Maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll have a chance to chat with her on O Day!

SCHOLASTIC Magazine is providing really useful learning resources for parents and teachers on their website #ScholasticLearnAtHome. They feature day-by-day projects to keep kids in grades Pre-K through grade 9 “reading, thinking, and growing”. I like them because they include project-based, experiential learning projects that kids can do with you or independently. In addition to the subject covered, this kind of learning improves mastery of multi-step directions and higher order thinking skills. They also break up the monotony of screen time and worksheets.

“The earth is speaking to us, but we can’t hear because of all the racket our senses are making. Sometimes we need to erase them, erase our senses. Then – maybe – the earth will touch us. The universe will speak. The stars will whisper.”

― Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl

STARGIRL is a classic YA book by Jerry Spinelli. Described as “a celebration of nonconformity; a tense, emotional tale about the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity–and the thrill and inspiration of first love.” It’s a book I’ve read many times with middle school clients and I always enjoy it, so when they say it’s recommended for ages 12+ there’s a good chance you’ll like reading it even if you don’t have a young adult at home.

Stargirl Disney+ Trailer

For those who prefer the movie over the book…there is also a Stargirl movie (available on Disney+ as of March 20, 2020). The New York Times sums it up well in their review of the film: “This kindhearted novel adaptation offers a welcome message of embracing one’s true self…” I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it’s on my #QuarantineTODO list. Maybe we can all meet up on Instagram Live and discuss?

STEPH CURRY isn’t just sitting around watching Tiger King during the NBA hiatus. As Sopan Deb, a basket ball writer explains in his NYTimes article, The Golden State Warriors player made good use of his time by hosting a discussion about the coronavirus COVID-19 with one of our national treasures, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Instagram Live last week. If you find a clear explanation of facts comforting, or have a basketball fan you’d like to help explain the virus to, this is a great resource.

“We are going to fight. We are going to be hurt. And in the end, we will stand.”


― Stephen King, The Drawing of the Three

SPONTANEOUS DANCE PARTY! Who else is having these? What are some of the SONGS you enjoy dancing to? Today’s SUGGESTION is for everyone feeling a little STUCK. We can do this! If you doubt it, here’s a link to G Day’s SONG I Will Survive to improve your SPIRITS!

Today’s SPONTANEOUS Dance Party SONG

The most SURPRISING thing about this project to me is how exhausting it can be reading the news online as I look for links to SHARE with my resources and STRATEGIES. Writing the posts is the fun part, the technology involved in the links and photos and posting SLOWS me down a bit. So while I might not be posting every day, know that I am working on them and I do appreciate all of your feedback and SUPPORT. I think we are off to a SUPER START.

What will the next letter be? As always, if you are the first to email or message me with the correct guess (and thank you for reading this far) there will be a prize headed your way! Take good care. Xo, Meg

Operation Letter of The Day: G

The letter of the day is G

Hello and happy Thursday, now officially G day. Are you excited? Let’s get started. G is for…

GIVE UP! I bet you weren’t expecting that right off the bat, were you? I’m not talking about quitting, I’m suggesting you GIVE UP any preconceived ideas you had about what you should or could be doing during this time. It’s part of good self-care. This pandemic is unlike anything that has occurred in our lifetime. I don’t like calling it “the new normal” because it implies that it’s going to be like this forever – and it’s not.

Last night, one of my readers told me she appreciated my explanation of the way the letter G can make two different sounds because she’s been trying to explain the concept to her son who is learning to read. I shared with her one of the most important lessons for struggling readers: sometimes words don’t play fair!

Yes, there are rules, but not all of the letters and words follow them all of the time. In order to move forward and accept how the overall process of reading works, you need to GIVE UP the idea that everything will always follow the rules or “play fair”. Right now, life isn’t playing fair with us and we need to be patient with ourselves and do the best we can every day. If it means going for a long walk and eating even one vegetable during the day today, then celebrate doing those two things, congratulate yourself, and get some good rest. GIVE UP criticizing yourself and start celebrating your successes!

“What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon?” cried Daisy, “and the day after that, and the next thirty years?”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

GIRAFFES. Did you know that GIRAFFES would have a hard time with social distancing too? GIRAFFES are very social animals who roam around in groups. The groups are called towers and are usually made up of about 15 GIRAFFES led by an adult male. The other members of the group are females and young males. This National Geographic Kids Website is a great resource full of amazing facts about life on the planet earth.

GRATITUDE is kind of an obvious one and for that very reason, I think it’s worth discussing. We’ve all heard an “attitude of gratitude” leads to being generally happier, having more empathy for others, higher self-worth, mental wellness, and increased immunity – things we all need right now. But how do we actively cultivate gratitude and teach children to practice it as well? Some people like to keep a gratitude journal, or a gratitude board. I have one client who sends what she calls “Happy Mail” – cards she mails to people who make her world a better place.

A friend in San Francisco introduced me to my favorite way to practice gratitude in the moment, requiring nothing but your brain. He mentally makes a list of the things he’s thankful for whenever he becomes frustrated. It helps calm in down, especially in traffic. There’s no traffic to get stuck in right now, but as GLENNON DOYLE says in this very real quarantine video, “it’s getting chippy” even in the living room these days, and this is a good strategy to practice in those moments. When you feel anxious or overwhelmed, lose patience, or want to respond to a situation with anger, stop, take a deep breath and think of at least five things you are thankful for – six if you count me sharing this idea with you!

“We have no hockey. But we have each other.”

― Gritty, Philadelphia Flyers mascot

GOLF. This one is for the golfers missing the Masters Tournament. This compilation of the greatest shots and moments in Masters History is something to be GRATEFUL for and also fun to watch with anyone you might be like to have join you on the course. And for the non-golfing parent, share these five golf games for kids with your favorite golfer and send them off to try them with the kids, leaving you with some well-deserved alone time.

THE GODFATHER COLLECTION is a classic, both in print and on screen. Did you know that the famous line, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” isn’t in the novel? It was improvised by the actor Richard Castellano. Makes you wonder what genius we will create while improvising in the coming weeks. If you have a quarantine buddy who hasn’t seen the films yet, pop some popcorn and let the debate of which movie is the best begin. You can also use these websites and apps that let you chat and text while watching with friends anywhere in the world.

GLORIA GAYNOR. Lots of people are telling us to wash our hands, but Gloria Gaynor does it with the saucy sassy strength that we all need right now in her new TikTok video. And for anyone who needs a spontaneous dance party, here’s a link to her original video of I Will Survive from 1978.

For day one, I think this is a pretty GREAT start. Let me know what you’d like to see more or less of in the next 25 posts. Also, the first person who can correctly guess the letter of the day tomorrow has a prize in store for them. Now aren’t you glad you read this far? Take good care! Xo

For Parents and Everyone Else Struggling at Home: Operation Letter of The Day

Hello friends, we made it to Wednesday! If you didn’t know it was Wednesday, no judgement here, I’m starting to get my day and evening pajamas confused at this rate.

How are you feeling? Stir crazy? Worried? Overwhelmed? Frustrated that you’ve already eaten all of the ice cream you panic purchased last week? Thankful for Dr. Tony Faucci and the guidance he’s providing for all of us in this complicated time? Scared that your sore throat is a symptom of COVID-19? Frightened for the people who are sick with it now? I see you. 

And I have some ideas. Those of you familiar with my professional work know that I’m solution focused. You may also know that I began my career in education, counseling, and coaching more than twenty years ago by teaching learning processes like reading, writing, comprehension, and critical thinking to children and adults of all ages.

The work that I did was one-on-one with clients, and I would generally see 7 to 8 different clients for an hour every day. I would go on to train others to do this work, breaking it down and explaining both the process and the psychology of learning.

In these sessions and trainings I grasped the differences between learning and teaching, as well as the need for learning to be fluid, flexible, and filled with positive reinforcement. This means meeting each student where they are, rather than where you believe they should or could be. 

Confidence is the antidote to shame.

And confidence is developed over time, built up and strengthened through small manageable challenges that lead students to become engaged and want to succeed.

In this spirit, I have come up with a plan based simply on the alphabet. Many of us grew up watching Sesame Street and if you did, you might remember that each episode was sponsored by a letter. I’m Shelter-ing in Place with some friends and one of them just happens to be three (3) years old. 

Beyond lots of tea parties and arts and crafts fun, we’ve been practicing letters and the sounds they make. The other morning, while I was explaining that the letter G is flexible because it’s a letter that can make two sounds – there’s a “soft g” sound (giraffe, gentle, gem) and a “hard g” sound (goat, gum, gap) – and that we have to be patient and take the time to figure out which sound the G is going to make, I was inspired to use the alphabet as a framework for sharing strategies, resources, and tips we can all use to survive this pandemic.

It makes sense, right? We all know our ABCs. Could we be at this for 26 days? None of us really know. So we’ll get started and see where it goes. Each day, I (or my 3 year old letter expert, or maybe even Arthur) will pick a letter at random and it will be our inspiration and our guide. 

Yes, there will be resources and ideas for parents with children at home whose school year came to an abrupt halt. There will also be content for anyone struggling with what’s happening right now: single, married, parent, child-free, working from home, suddenly out of work, high schoolers, college students, pets wondering if they’ll ever get to have a secret daytime poodle party ever again. As one of my favorite humans, Jen Pastiloff says: I’ve got you.

So what’s next? Some pointers, guidelines, useful information, disclaimers. 

  1. First, I have a practical tip everyone can use: WHY questions make people defensive and can cause them to shut down. 

Think about it. If I ask you, “Why are you wearing that unicorn mask with your tuxedo t-shirt and a hula skirt?

You’re probably not going to feel great about it. Your response is not likely to lead to any kind of productive discussion.

But if I asked you instead, “Hey buddy, what made you decide to sport your unicorn mask with your tuxedo t-shirt and a hula skirt?” Your brain hears this as a request for information, not an emotional response. You might like that I showed an interest and explain it to me. Or at the very least not storm out of the room.

Instead of asking “Why…” you can try:

  • “What made you want to…’
  • “What was it you were trying to accomplish by…”
  • “What was the point…”
  • “What were you thinking when…”
  • “What did you want…”
  • “How do you feel…”
  1. While the information I share is intended to be helpful, if you feel you (or someone you care about) are in crisis, please:
  • CALL the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is a free, 24-hour hotline, at 1.800.273.TALK (8255). Your call will be connected to the crisis center nearest to you. 
  • Or TEXT Crisis Text Line. They serve anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information. In the US text 741741, in Canada text 686868 or 741741, and in the UK text 85258.
  • If you are in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately and they will help you with next steps.
  1. I understand that we all have different backgrounds and experiences. What I’m sharing are things I’ve learned, found helpful, and utilized with clients. Not all of them may work for you. You may have some better ideas. I’m excited to hear your ideas. Please share. Build on what I provide and let me know how it’s going. If something was frustrating or didn’t work we can team up and see if we can tweak it or find another solution. Bottom line: BE KIND. I know things are difficult right now for so many people in so many different ways. Kindness matters now more than ever.
  1. I’ll be posting word lists – sight word reading lists and vocabulary lists. I’m happy to share them and links to others. You can utilize the strategies I provide for these lists and create your own. What’s important to keep in mind is that most people can learn and retain 9 to 11 new things at a time. Try to stick to learning no more than 11 new words a day. There’s no need to panic and attempt to learn all the words on day 1 or even by day 26. The goal of this is to improve knowledge of sight words or vocabulary, increase reading skills, and maybe have some fun while doing it.
  1. Lastly, places you can find me. To see more content, to tell me you love what I’m doing, to ask me to address a specific issue you are really interested in or concerned about, to show me that you’re picking up what I’m putting down, to set up a one-on-one coaching or therapy session, to just say hi: email is leahylearning (at sign) gmail dot com. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin links are all above this post. Phone/Text is 484-222-0272. If someone wants to help me learn how to use SnapChat or anything else I’m missing, Iet me know and we can set them up too.

This post is going up pretty late so I’ll give you a little inside information. Tomorrow’s letter of the day is: the letter G

Tune in to see how it all works. 

Until then, take good care of yourselves! Xo Meg

The Learning Never Stops: A Plan For The Pandemic

TGIF and congrats on making it through the first week of Social Distancing while we are actively experiencing the trauma of a pandemic!

It’s been a rough week for all of us and I purposely waited to write this post until I could begin to understand and process what is happening to all of us, all over the world. 

It’s an overwhelming thought and one that can be paralyzing until you focus on the very last bit: this is happening to ALL of us, all over the world. 

I’m getting lots of requests for resources and strategies for both mental wellness and learning while we are all hunkered down together. I’ve been sharing Instagram and Facebook stories that I hope will make you smile, or even laugh and possibly experience a moment of joy. 

Accepting that we are all experiencing trauma right now, I am following my own therapeutic advice: be kind to yourself, take good care of yourself, do what you can with what you have, channel your anxious energy on doing what you can to help others, and find ways to be still and focus on the moment you are in and all the gratitude you can muster up and celebrate in that moment. 

That’s what I have been up to and I’ve given myself permission to take a “vacation” until Tuesday. I plan on keeping the news off, reading good books, connecting and laughing with friends – via phone, facetime, or six feet away. Eating and drinking things that I enjoy, walking and talking to my dog, breathing deep and discovering or re-discovering the sense of calm that the rituals of creativity can bring. 

On Tuesday, March 24th, I’ll be back and we can talk strategies. But I should warn you, unless you have already been a professional home schooler, my suggestion is to cancel all home school if your children are resisting it. 

You heard me right: CANCEL ALL HOME SCHOOL. Put a pin in it. Take a pause. We have plenty of time to catch up. 

School is a structure for learning provided by trained professionals. And it’s not the structure we need right now. While I give anyone who’s set up a folding table and printed out worksheets a lot of credit, you’d probably laugh if I tried doing your job at home right now. You’re not a teacher and even if you are, now is not the time for teaching. 

LEARNING is going to have to be creative. It’s going to have to be fluid, and in the moment, and calm, cool, and collected in a way that is comforting to all of us. Now is an opportunity to embrace the concept of true learning and join your family, friends, quarantine companions, whomever you’re with – where they are and help them to use this time to REALLY learn

Learn how to feel safe, to express fear and handle anxiety, to listen – actually listen, to be patient, to be kind, to make or bake something, to be grateful, to share empathy, to understand the importance of strength and weakness and vulnerability. 

Learn about the power of acceptance, to understand diversity in thought, in culture, and in the global community of which we are all citizens. Learn healthy coping skills that can work for each of us when we need them. Read or watch the stories of people who know these things and have modeled them for all of us. The world is going to be different on the other side of this pandemic and what our children will learn in this time we spend together are the values that will shape a newly changed world. 

My homework for all of us this weekend is to think back to when you were young and had no frame of reference beyond your sheltered world at that time. Look back over the years, and recall the important things that you’ve learned. How did you learn them? Who helped you learn them? How did they change and shape who you are today?

Share in the comments below or on social media and I’ll look forward to discussing this and more – and learning from all of you – on Tuesday.

Until then, take good care. Xo, Meg

Meg Speaks to Drexel Students

On Friday, January 19, Meg spent a memorable afternoon teaching a course at Drexel University. The topic of the course was Practicing Emotional Competence. Meg discussed emotional intelligence and the value of understanding what that means to students, especially as they enter the workplace.

She presented a number of activities she has developed to help students become more self-aware of their social and emotional strengths. The strategies, activities and resources she shared, along with her own personal experiences, empowered  students to find ways to effectively and confidently exercise their emotional competence, which is an integral skill in networking and in life in general.

Meg has also been invited to be a mentor in the Macy Undergraduate Fellows Program at Drexel. She’s having a fantastic experience this year mentoring a student in the Behavioral Health Sciences Program.

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Youth Coaching Institute

Meghan is honored to be the recipient of a scholarship to the Youth Coaching Institute and is looking forward to becoming a Board Certified Coach (BCC) later this year. For the next thirty weeks, Meghan will hone her coaching skills. Be sure to check back for updates and insights as her training begins.

Youth Coaching Institute

 

WSJ Women of Note Launch

On a snowy Wednesday night in December, I headed to NYC for cocktails, canapés, and conversation at the WSJ Women of Note launch event, held in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center.

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The city was blanketed in a fresh coat of snow as we met and mingled with other network members. Bestselling author and leadership expert, Liz Wiseman, provided a scintillating keynote presentation, sparking our imaginations and challenging us to explore our leadership styles.

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Catching up with old friends and networking with new colleagues made for a wonderful evening. Many thanks to Sara Shenasky and everyone at WSJ who made the night so special for all of us through their hard work and careful attention to detail. I’m already looking forward to our next event…

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After You Write A Book, You Have a Party

And we did!

Meghan and Roberta launched Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Throughout the Lifespan to the public on December 12, 2014 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Philadelphia Salvage Annex in Bryn Mawr, PA.

More than 80 friends, colleagues and clients came out to celebrate the publication of the book. The folks at Philly Salvage decked the Annex out for the holidays and there was plenty of pizza from Jules Thin Crust as well as lots of holiday cheer.

The authors signed books and thanked guests for their support during the writing process. If you missed the party and would like more information about the book, author interviews, personal appearances or media requests feel free to contact Meghan at 484-222-0272 or info@leahylearning.com

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*A very special shoutout to Amanda Davis, Director of Projects at Leahy Learning who organized this grand event.

Volunteering at the Philly Marathon

We were back at the waterstop again this year and enjoying every minute of it! It was a gorgeous day, with weather conditions perfect for running — and volunteering.

While we may not run the 26.2 miles of the Philadelphia Marathon, we are up and out early to support all of those who do. The waterstop is set up at the 18 (going out)/ 22 (coming back) mile mark. We provide water and Gatorade (along with lots of support and enthusiasm) to all runners.

Any runner who makes it to our table is truly remarkable. It constantly amazes us that so many marathoners go out of their way to thank us for being there for them as they run through our station. It’s a rewarding experience and we were happy to be back again this year along with some new recruits who did a spectacular job.

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Many thanks to Dan Gordon and the Wissahickon Wanderers Running Club for making the waterstop possible and including us in this volunteer opportunity.

WSJ Women of Note

Things have been so busy lately that I have not had a chance to share the latest exciting news… I have been recognized by the Wall Street Journal as a “Woman of Note”. I am both thrilled and honored to be part of such an amazing group.

WSJ Women of Note InviteI’m looking forward to sharing the details of our first networking event with all of you. Stay tuned.

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