A few weeks ago, my 6th grade ELA classes began their final bend of argument writing: comparison/contrast literary essays. This is not for the faint of heart by any means. So, in the hope of making
my their lives easier, I prepared a form to assist them in organizing their thinking, and providing structure to their essays.
At least that’s what I thought I was doing.
As I went through my first class of the day, I realized just how much I didn’t like my “helpful” form. First of all, it was far more complicated than intended. My students were becoming confused, and their confusion was preventing them from doing what I wanted them to be doing: thinking deeply about literature. Second of all, I wasn’t allowing them to do their own problem solving. I had taken it upon myself to do their thinking for them. Bad idea.
As a result, I did what any teacher who was about to be observed by her principal would do. I threw my helpful little form in the recycling and punted. Plan B came together quickly.
End of story? No. (This is a health and wellness blog, after all.)
Let me continue.
One morning last week, as I was blow drying my hair and scrolling through my twitter feed (I know, I know, my talents never cease to amaze), I came across a tweet linking me to a post written by one of my favorite bloggers.
As I read, I found myself writing my own comparison contrast essay. (Not on paper of course. In my head. It would be ridiculous to think that I could add writing to my current multi-tasking activities.)
Writing tools. Wellness tools.
Now a little background information that is pertinent to my stream of thought on this little essay:
I tend to get a tad bit bent out of shape whenever a new diet/health fad takes center stage. I’m not a fan of any diet or fad that provides a quick, temporary fix without addressing a long term solution.
Previous to me reading the post, a friend asked if I had ever heard of The Whole30 Program. At the time I hadn’t. She explained how she eliminated certain food groups (sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) from her diet, and then slowly reintroduced them. Hmmm…I “listened” and asked questions (the whole time thinking, What could possibly be wrong about eating legumes? and Stop beating up on grains! Whole grains are not evil!, followed by, All right! No dairy).
And then I caught myself, as I realized I was willing to support anything that agreed with my beliefs, but immediately dismiss what did not. Bad, judgemental Karen.
I had completely forgotten about this until…
that morning when I was reading a post about The Whole30 Program. WHAT?
Then I began thinking:
When I was teaching, I had opted for plan B, because I wanted my students to do their own problem solving. When I allowed for this, they had discovered their own strategies to organize their thinking. And because I didn’t provide one tool for them to use, they discovered their own strategies. Some used a Venn Diagram, others a t-chart. Others used their own nameless strategies. Most students (I would love to say “all”, but I’m sure we all understand that it’s not a perfect world) found success. Even those who were at first frustrated.
Likewise, there are different strategies for achieving optimal health. There isn’t a one size fits all plan. You need to discover what works for you. At times you will be frustrated. At times you will believe you are on the right track, but then realize you aren’t. In the educational world, we call that learning.
After three plus years, I am thriving on a vegan diet. But that certainly doesn’t mean a vegan diet is right for you. (Of course the animals and the environment will love you, but I don’t want to be “that” vegan by being all preachy.)
So where do we look for guidance? There simply isn’t a single plan, or strategy that works for everyone. The reality is, we are unique individuals, with unique bodies and needs. We can look to others, but it’s important to understand that health is far more than just what a person looks like on the outside. And unless you know the person’s whole story, you may be mislead.
The bottom line? Learn all you can, take a good hard look at your own health, and recognize that there isn’t just one prescribed strategy to reach optimal health. Then let your journey to wellness begin, and be willing to alter the course if necessary.