Invite your child’s friends to spend time with your family

Yes, each family has the responsibility to send children, who learn to honor and respect everyone, to school. In so doing, obeying school rules will become one of those things that will come naturally. The world of work awaits your children and that world is governed by rules. Our children must learn that reality and know that non-conformance to company rules will come with consequences. Similarly, non-conformance to school rules will come with a price.

There are many things that all parents could do to contribute to making schools safer. Today, I will suggest a few simple activities that any parent could try to implement at home.  

  • Engage your children in conversations about issues that concern them. Ask questions. Allow your children to ask questions. Get their opinions. Ask them to suggest solutions that would benefit themselves and others. Always ask the ‘What if?’ question.
  • Set simple, easy to follow, rules at home. Help your children to obey them. Provide guidance and love when your children disobey. Do not be severe and excessive in correcting your children.
  • Become friends of your children. You will be better able to detect warning signs, if you are your child’s best friend.
  • Know your children’s friends. Invite them to your home or to share fun activities together at the neighborhood space. You do not need much to entertain children. They will enjoy lemonade and cookies in a safe-play environment.
  • Become actively involved in your local Parents’ Teachers Association (PTA). This is your opportunity learn about school activities. This is your opportunity to volunteer and be involved in school activities.
  • Get professional help if your child displays anti-social behavior that overwhelms you. You may be surprised to learn there are many resources in your school neighborhood that are accessible to you. There are many persons who have had similar experiences; many of whom would like to help you. Yes, there are may persons who will help you. Remember, early intervention is often better than waiting until it may be too late.

Parents/Guardians are first teachers and role models. Our children learn so much from us.  We all want our children to be safe at school. They can be safe when we contribute by doing our part at home and by making our homes safe, happy spaces to grow our children. Whenever we all succeed at doing this, we will contribute by sending well-adjusted, happy children to school.

Talk soon


Retiring without regrets

What? Is retiring without regrets even possible? Yes, it is. Below are a few suggestions from my limited experience.

Plan ahead and get professional financial advice. You may not have all the savings you need, but you may have enough savings to make sensible investment decisions that will allow you to continue earning.

Do not plan to work for money, but if you must, embrace it. I know this may not go down well with some readers. However, what I mean is that if you prepare well for retirement with the mind-set of not working for money and if you extend yourself to work smartly while you continue in your full time employment, paid work may not become an absolute necessity after you retire.

Do not leave the work force too early. The last years of full-time employment are often when you network with seasoned professionals. Build on those networks and you will find that during retirement, the persons in your network remain your friends.

Don’t set rigid retirement goals. My experience has been that some of these goals are soon dumped as grand children beckon, wedding anniversaries and university graduations across the oceans beckon and that cruise/vacation also beckons. And guess what, you make quick and sensible travel decisions and… you are gone.

Make a list of activities you always enjoy. As a teenager, I worked at the public library. I used to prepare for the tiny tots’ story hour, using my artistic skills to prepare Micky and Minnie Mouse posters, and share in reading those hilarious stories that made the tiny tots giggle. Today in retirement, I accompany my son and my grandchildren to the public library carrying an over sized bag and hauling home 15 or more books for our reading pleasure, every three weeks.

Use the same skills you used in the corporate world to make your life plans. So, you were managing the company’s strategic planning process. You were evaluating business processes. Why not use those skills in your personal life? Why not apply those skills by volunteering to help at a project in your community.

Enjoy retirement

Talk soon


Adjusting to a new (school) regime after migration

So, you are a new resident in this developed country, settling in your new neighborhood, your new home, and you have mixed feelings about the education system.

Someone once said that the grass is greener on the other side. Another person said that if you water the grass where you are, it will become greener than the other side. Yet another person said that the greener grass on the other side is fake grass.

Now that you migrated and you are experiencing the other side, is the grass greener on that side?  You do not need to respond. That was meant to be a rhetorical question to get you to reflect.

Several of my friends have many issues with the education systems on the ‘so called’ greener sides. In one regime, the children are given little or no homework. Why? Parents work long hours and they request that less homework be assigned because they are unable to supervise or to help the children with homework.

In another regime, parents’ interaction with teachers is close to nil because it is simply not facilitated nor encouraged. If you are a West Indian immigrant and this is your experience, I know you are strategizing to initiate some change in this school regime.

I am an experienced West Indian educator, and I like examining differences in school systems and although this is not a scholarly article, please bear with me as I share some differences in two school systems. The information below was gleaned from conversations with my friends who migrated. It is shared as a reality check. My recommendation is that a new resident should not compare education systems but should quickly try to understand the new system and adapt strategies to make the transition manageable.

New school system Former school system
Ranked among top five school systems in the world No rank – underdeveloped school system
Little or no homework Lots of homework
Projects done at school Projects are part of homework
Few exams Lots of exams and tests
Few contacts with homeroom teachers. Communication often done electronically, e.g., Google Drive. Easy to contact homeroom teacher. A parent may even visit school without an appointment.
Job market requires formal certification. Lots of job opportunities for skilled and unskilled workers. Job market requires formal certification. Skilled workers have few opportunities and often migrate to search for jobs. Unskilled workers lack opportunities
Skills based Not skills based

My friends should not board the next available flights and return to their countries of birth. I humbly suggest that they do some more research, adjust their mindset, and enjoy the new experiences along the journey so that they will help their children to achieve excellent education outcomes in the new education system. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

Talk soon…….


So…..I learned to love caterpillars

Why? I love to see the green and yellow butterflies in my garden.  If we kill ‘annoying’ caterpillars, we will see fewer butterflies in our gardens.

You may kill a caterpillar because the caterpillar killed your scotch bonnet pepper tree.  However we do need these ‘annoying’ caterpillars. Whenever you are tempted to kill a caterpillar, do pause and give some thought to the life cycle of the butterfly, and gently remove it to another section of your garden.

As a child, I would kill every caterpillar in my father’s garden. Today, I am wiser. I remember that the creation includes a web of interconnected parts, interconnected insects and animals. Adult butterflies and caterpillars are important sources of food for bats and birds. Butterflies feed on nectar from flowers and help to pollinate plants. Plants rely on these butterflies that are pollinators for reproduction.

Butterflies eat weedy plants and whenever butterflies are in abundance in our garden it means that we are existing in healthy environment, healthy ecosystem, free from pesticides.

So, if you want to enjoy butterflies in your garden, do not kill those ‘annoying’ caterpillars.

Common sense traveling tips

Compact handy luggage scale

So you are traveling…..  Do you know the weight of your luggage? You should. I will share some tips that will help you avoid unpleasant surprises and save you some embarrassment at the airport’s check-in counter. There are many airline luggage restrictions that you need to know whenever you are traveling. If you know the exact weight of packed luggage, you will never have to pay unexpected money for overweight luggage. A luggage scale may therefore become an essential travel accessory.

Think before you pack. Secure a scale so that after you pack you may check the weight of your luggage.  I found the scale in the above picture at one of my hometown pharmacies. You could invest in a handy luggage scale which may also be purchased on line. Always remember that the customer service agent will charge you extra for an overweight bag. Airlines are governed by international rules and guidelines. An overweight bag is an additional item of cost.

Each time I arrive at an airport and stand in line to get my luggage checked and to secure my boarding card, I observe many persons carrying multiple overweight bags. Remember, each checked-in bag can weigh up to 23kg (50lb) before you incur additional fees for overweight. Ignorance is not an excuse.

You may avoid embarrassment if you pre-check the weight of your luggage ahead of arriving at the airport. If you guessed the weight of your luggage, you may be surprised that it weighs more and therefore you may be required to add another checked bag and/or re-pack.  

Here are a few suggestions that will save you some embarrassment and may serve to improve your experience while checking in at the airport.

  • Know your baggage allowance. It is written on your e-ticket.
  • Check the weight of your luggage at home.
  • Re-pack, if you must.
  • Add another checked bag before arrival at the airport.
  • Prepare to pay extra charges at the airport for luggage exceeding the mandatory allowance.

Achieving retirement goals….

In her attic bedroom, Winsome, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat at the end of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees, clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground. It was only yesterday that she enjoyed the sunset from the same place in her bedroom. She was reminded of the days when she sat on a wooden bench with her husband at the beach and enjoyed the sunset. The weather changed and that change did not bother Winsome. She was busily fulfilling one of her retirement goals. Winsome was fulfilling the goal of making a beautiful sweater for her grand daughter. She loved knitting and her bedroom was her most creative space.

Winsome retired two years ago. She prepared for retirement and she knew then that she would never again work in a corporate entity. She desired to engage in activities that would yield her lasting pleasure. She wanted to make items that people would enjoy for a long time.

Tonight, she is continuing to knit the pink sweater in anticipation of surprising her seven-year-old grand daughter who she had not seen last winter. Winsome’s grand daughter hopes to visit in March. It is now the middle of January therefore Winsome has little time to complete the sweater and package it nicely.

Winsome lives alone and likes to knit during the night. The nights are quiet and the sounds, though sometimes eerie, do not frighten her. She grew up in a large family and everyone would tell stories about the dark nights in rural Jamaica, but Winsome knew the family meant well and the stories were meant to drive fear into the teenagers who liked to frolic with friends after dark.

Winsome especially likes to knit during the nights, because her days are busy. She has the most beautiful flower garden in the neighborhood. She likes tending the plants during the mornings and she is almost certain to have two or three uninvited visitors who stop, commend her, ask her questions and engage her in some village gossip.

Tonight, Winsome hums a tune and sets a goal of completing the right sleeve of the sweater before midnight. The sweater is taking form and to see that finished sleeve before midnight would be a great achievement. Suddenly, the quietness is disturbed by the screeching sound of a car and a banging sound as if someone crashed a vehicle in the dumpster at the end of the road. Without switching on any light, Winsome peeps through a space in the curtain in her bedroom. Lights are on in all the houses that are in close proximity to the accident site. People are pouring out of their houses on to the street. Sirens are blazing, and the road is now crowded with people.

Although Winsome is curious she decides to wait until the following morning to hear the news about the accident. Winsome watches the street for a while and then she retires to bed, disappointed that she did not complete the right sleeve of her grand daughter’s sweater. Tomorrow night, she hopes to start knitting a little earlier. Would she achieve this retirement goal? Only time will tell…….

Talk soon…..

When the great unforeseen occurs……….

person wearing black nike low tops sneakers playing soccer
Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

No one should start playing soccer after retirement. I was not convinced. So, that is what I was doing when I fell and fractured my right wrist. My life changed, and I lost interest in some activities I previously enjoyed. However, I promised myself that I would begin to write again before the end of 2018.

During the months following the accident, I fell in love with my left arm. I realized that I took my right arm for granted. I valued the Jamaican saying, “Cow never knows the use of its tail, till she loses it.”

I learnt to do the following “difficult” tasks with my left hand: taking a bath; combing my hair; writing my name; sweeping the floor; and making my bed.

For six weeks while my arm was securely positioned in a cast, there was so much swelling, so much pain, and I was impatient because I was not managing my expectations.

Finally, the day came for the cast to be removed. And…what a horrible looking wrist!! My son and I cried because my wrist was as stiff as a flat piece of board that was pressed out of shape. My fingers were swollen and lifeless. I hurried to the physiotherapist who chided me. “Why didn’t you come to see me while the cast was on?”

“No one advised me”, I replied.

I knew that I was in trouble and all the research I did convinced me that full healing could take a long time…..as long as a year.

Here are a few lessons from my experience. When the great unforeseen occurs:

  • Be patient with yourself;
  • Be humble, the great unforeseen does not discriminate;
  • Be creative and find other ways to do things.
  • Use the available technology;
  • Show more love to the people you now come to depend on;
  • Do not be shy to ask for help; and
  • Focus on the happy ending, nothing remains the same forever.

Talk soon……Claire