Monday, March 30, 2015

Surrender is LIVE!

If you didn't get your pre-order in, you have a few more hours to get Surrender for only 99 cents!

The way this pricing thing works is I submit the change and Amazon takes it's time approving it so I never know exactly when the new price will be posted. However, I'll let you in on a little secret: once Amazon's price changes, I submit the changes to all the other venders--iBooks. Smashwords, Kobo, B&N and they take a little longer. So if you ever miss the sale price on Amazon, there's a good chance it's still available at the other sites for a day or two.

But after that, the book will go up to the regular price of $2.99.

So grab your 99 cent copy while it's still on sale.




AMAZON
SMASHWORDS
KOBO
iBOOKS
B&N



Surrender #6 


 The glitzy, glamorous road Max and I are racing down is headed straight to hell, but of course neither of us are willing to admit it. If it’s not the new monster of the week, it’s our pasts—mostly mine—that's ruining our odds of staying together. Honestly, there just aren’t enough ways for me to say I’m sorry.

While Max confronts his parents about their lies, a life or death case involving the closest thing I have to a family falls into my lap. A child’s life is at stake, but every bet I make turns horribly wrong. The only chance I have left has deadly consequences:

Power for power.
Life for life.

Or, you know, just another Monday in Sin City.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sneaking Healthy into Your Life: Meal Tweaking not Twerking

Tweaking NOT Twerking
Last week I wrote about getting healthy without resorting to kale smoothies, so I thought I'd share the best weight loss/weight management baby-step I ever learned: I don't need to give up most of the food I love in order to lose weight.

Seriously. Isn't that fracking awesome?! Instead of suffering through hard boiled eggs (GACK!) and dry toast, I've learned how to tweak (not twerk) my favorite recipes to make them healthier and waist-line friendly... and maybe twerking friendly, but I wouldn't know. *whistles while inspecting shoes*

Here's how I do it (tweaking not twerking, just to be clear):

I enter my favorite recipes on MyFitnessPal or the Weight Watchers app, then tweak the ingredients in the app to see how I can improve it. For example, this Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice recipe is 12 WeightWatchers points per serving AS IS. That's a lot, for those of you who don't know the Points Plus system. It's not terrible, but consider this: the base line amount of points per day in order to lose weight is about 26. Yes, 26. Some people get more, a few may get less, but that's the starting point.

So, 12 points for a serving of casserole that doesn't include wine or side salad with my favorite dressing or a sweet treat later...yeah, not going to work if I want to wear my favorite blue jeans in the morning.

Over the years, I've tweaked all my favorites, but when I see a recipe like this (that I know the family will love), I plug it into the recipe builder feature of the app to find out what the total points are, then I play with each ingredient until I get the points down to something more reasonable. I really like WW Points Plus system because its simple. They've done all the math to steer its members toward less refined carbs, moderate amounts of fat, and a healthy portion of protein. By the way, most veggies are 0 points and a limited amount of fruit is also 0 points.

I tweaked the Cheesey casserole down to 7 points! Woot! Woot! And my family loved it. Win! Win! How'd I get it down? By increasing the broccoli to 3 cups, using either skinless/boneless chicken breast or canned chicken breast instead of rotisserie chicken, light mayo, and reduced fat cheese. I've been doing this for years so its kind of second nature for me, and that's because while I wasn't looking, I developed some basic tweaking strategies.

Here are my rules of thumb for making a recipe weight loss friendly:

1. Increase the veggies. 

And by veggies I mean broccoli, green beans, dark leafies, etc. NOT potatoes or corn. For nutrition and weight loss purposes these are starchy CARBS NOT VEGGIES. (yes, I am yelling it).  Also, be careful with peas and carrots, they are higher in sugar and starch than other veggies.

And stick to the 0 points veggies for this trick. Do not try to do the same with fruit. 1 serving of fruit is 0 points on the Weight Watchers plan; 10 servings is not.

2. Get light or reduced-fat versions. 

 Of mayo, cream cheese, sour cream, cheese, milk, etc. I dislike fat-free because of the taste and the corn syrup they often use to recreate the creaminess of fat. Also, get the leaner and lighter cuts of meat, as well the leaner ground beef or swap ground beef for 99% fat free lean ground turkey. Or mix them.

My family does NOT like ground turkey breast in their spaghetti. They draw the line there, so I mix some ground turkey in with the ground beef. I have to be sneaky because they'll pick it out. They say the white ground turkey looks like worms in the red sauce. But they have no problem with it when I mix it in the meatloaf, shepherd's pie, chili, etc.

3. Reduce ingredient amounts. 

For example, this recipe originally called for 1/2 cup of mayo, but I find I can often trim that to 1/4 cup or 1/3 cup and still enjoy the flavor and texture of the recipe, especially in casseroles that for some reason load up on the high-salt, high-fat creamy ingredients. They are NOT necessary to have a tasty casserole. Having said that, be careful about trying to change ingredient amounts for BAKING. Often, you need those amounts to make the science happen. You could end up with some funky, space alien type baked goods.

Normally, when I increase the veggie amount, I decrease the starch(es), but I left the rice alone in this recipe because my family eats....a lot.

Also, remember you can bulk up the recipe with added veggies to retain the volume so you and your family will feel satisfied.

4. Swap ingredients.

If a recipe calls for white rice, try brown. Same for pasta. Or try something entirely different. I made this Cheesy casserole with spaghetti squash, once, chopping the squash so it felt like rice in your mouth. NO ONE said, "Okay, Mom, what did you do with the rice? What IS this??" And believe me, my family speaks up about these things because they know I'm always trying to slip them a health mickey. The key to ingredient swapping is thinking about the texture. Swapping eggplant for the rice wouldn't work as well and your family may stage an intervention (not that that's happened around here...lately.)

The possibilities are endless. So go twerk tweak your heart out and report back. What recipes did you tweak? How'd they turn out? Did your family give you the stink eye or did they plow right through without even noticing? Are you already doing this? What are some of your favorite tweaking strategies? Let me know how you're doing out there.

Much love and light!




Friday, March 20, 2015

You Can Be Healthy and Still Hate Kale Smoothies

Me (on the right in pink, obvs) at 195 pounds Xmas 2004.
The healthy eating nazis would have you believe that if you're not eating according to their dictates,
you are doomed to be fat and unhappy. I disagree. You do NOT have to slurp down kale smoothies (which I like btw. Not dissing kale smoothies) to be at a healthy weight and definitely, definitely don't need them to be happy.

As a matter of fact, if you're like a large percentage of the American population (I have no data, I'm guessing based on my personal experience and the experience of family, friends, and clients. For you research buffs) you are likely to "fail" at dieting if you force yourself to eat things you dislike. Ever been going along, eating healthy, exercising, feeling good, and then BAM! You suddenly are overwhelmed with a craving for pizza or nachos or nacho pizza? Yes, we all have.

Thus begins the internal struggle that almost always ends with ordering both and eating it ALL over the course of the day, ending with me on my hands and knees with a stomach ache, rocking back and forth, and swearing to God if She will get me through this I'll never do it again. I promise. *blinks* What was I saying? Oh yeah...

Me, 2012, at 145 pounds.
So why does this happen? Because we make too many dietary changes at once. We pick a day "to start" our new eating regiment and we stock up on healthy food and for me 3 days in I'm like "screw this! I want some cheese and wine!" Amiright?

It's nearly impossible to go from where we are right now to some imaginary perfect eating plan. Some very rare people are wired that way and good for them. But for the rest of us, it's not going to happen. We need to take baby steps.

That's why I don't diet. I don't "try" to lose weight. Instead, I make lifestyle changes, one at a time over years. Yes, years.

Wait! *runs after you* Come back! *panting* Let me catch my breath. *deep inhale* Okay, I do have some good news. They say it takes 28 days for a new habit to stick. At least give yourself a month to introduce a new healthier habit. Say, start drinking eight ounces of water first thing when you wake up. Repeat for 28 days in a row. Or, my favorite, take your best comfort food recipe and start tweaking it to be a little more healthy, a little less waist-line expanding.
Me a few days ago at 148 pounds.

One thing I've learned over the years is how to tweak my comfort food recipes to be more health-conscious. Here is a great list of some healthier snack hacks complete with Weight Watchers points (the most sane weight loss plan on the planet, IMHO). Trust me, eating healthy doesn't mean giving up every food that you love right now or concocting some cauliflower-kale pizza impostor. But what it does mean is giving food some thought and being more mindful about what you're eating.

As anyone who has gone to dinner with me knows, I love food. And wine. I can't imagine "eating clean" all the time. So I compromise. I'm not a size 4, but I'm an 8 or a 10 depending on the time of month and I love it.

Don't try to do it all at once. Baby steps, baby.

What are your thoughts on eating clean, being healthy, and weight management? Are you struggling? Do you hate dieting? Have you had success? Do you wake up in the middle of the night craving cheese cake? Tell me about it! I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

When Yoga Gets Boring or How To Cut Off that Offending Limb

When you’ve been practicing yoga for years…and years…and years…as I have, there comes a time when it gets boring. 

Yep. Boring. *glances around for the Yoga Police*

*whispers * It’s interesting that when I talk to other yoga teachers, they never ever say such a thing. I wonder if there’s something wrong with me...

but then again, maybe that’s just who I am. I learned a long time ago that I need variety. I get bored with the same food too often; I get bored with the same music for too long. I get bored being in the same place for too long.

Well, for the past couple months I’ve been avoiding yoga, which honestly, really confused me. It has been the one thing in my life that I never got discouraged or bored with. Yoga has not only been a life-saver physically, it has been the prime way I balance my brain chemistry and avoid medications with all their side affects…you know, weight gain, bizarre dreams, anal seepage...

But I digress. Turns out, I was bored with the type of yoga I’d been practicing. Same thing happens with my other exercise. I’ll get into cycling for a while and then, eh. I’m done. I can be into it for weeks, months, and in the case of yoga, years before the eh monster shows up. But eventually, I will get bored. I used to think it was a flaw, that I lacked the passion and stick-to-itness required to be a master at anything.

But you know what? The same thing happens with my writing. I will find myself avoiding the laptop, doing anything—and I mean ANYTHING, like cleaning the house—to not have to face the blinking cursor. Blink. Blink. Blink. *shivers*

I've learned that sometimes its because I’m bored with the story. Preferring to clean the window sills of bug carcasses over writing is a big red flag waving in my face, my friends. If I’m bored with my story then the reader is certainly going to get bored, too. Does it mean I’m done with writing? Oh, hell no. Writing is also one of my brain meds. I can’t imagine NOT writing anymore than I can imagine not practicing yoga.

That’s the time when I have to get tough with myself and drill down on what's going on or what's not working. See, getting bored isn't necessarily a character flaw, a sign of a weak constitution, or anything negative. It can be a sign that something is no longer working in your project or exercise regiment, or in your life in general. That's right. Boredom is a sign that you need to switch gears, dig deeper, or, frankly, cut off the offending limb. 

That’s right. I said cut it off. 

With my writing projects, it often goes like this:

*selects entire chapter*
"But I worked so hard on that!"
“Its doesn’t matters. Its filthy. Throws it out!"
*sweat drips down back of neck*
“But I don’t know where to go next if I get rid of this."
“Story betrayed us! Wicked! Tricksy! False! Kill it! Kill it!"
*shaking finger hovers over Delete key* 
“Wring its neck! Kill it!"
*Delete*
*deep sigh of relief*

When it comes to my yoga, however, I don't think I need to leave it behind. I'm thinking the boredom is a way of telling myself it’s time to move on to another form of yoga or a different way of practicing. It’s not about being flighty or undisciplined, as the nasty little voice in my head likes to tell me. The truth is I’ve learned whatever lessons I needed from my current practice and it’s time to move on to something new. 

It’s the same way with any kind of exercise or art form or craft. At some point, you have to try something different, weave in a new technique, unravel a section of that sweater, and try again or try something different or throw the thing away and start over.

Don’t let the boredom and avoidance derail your practice, whether it’s yoga or writing or knitting or even life itself. Find a new way to approach it. Try something new. Anything!

I’m trying this Kundalini Yoga series by Maya FiennesThe Chakra Balancing Series caught my eye immediately when I went on Amazon Prime searching for some new yoga practice ideas.

I’m on day two of the series and Wow! It is exactly what I needed. My head space is cleared out and I feel re-energized and my enthusiasm for yoga has returned. I’ve even been getting up at 5 am so I can practice before my day gets started. I’m so jazzed! And insane. I know.

What have you been avoiding lately? What have you started to feel bored about that used to excite you? Have you tried approaching it in a new way? What have you done to bring joy back to your life? Please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you’ve been trying or that you have no idea what to try next. Maybe we can help each other.

Namaste!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In Case of Happy Place Emergency


CLICK HERE and then come back while the music plays. *toes tapping*

So yesterday I was dragging butt, to say the least, and it really annoyed the crap out of me. I've got a
life to live and shit to do, man. But it turns out there was a reason for my lethargy and I didn't need to resort to dire strategies to jump start my brain.

After complaining talking to a friend, she told me about an article she read that said it's fairly typical to be fatigued the day after Daylight Savings kicks in. No kidding. Apparently, the "spring forward" is even correlated with heart attacks according to this Yahoo! News article and did you know, according to the Wall Street Journal, it can mess with your relationships, too?! Who knew?? Curse the Daylight Savings committee..or whoever is in charge.

I was a grumpy gus, as the Wall Street article says can happen, and was in dire need of My Happy Place. Where is this mysterious place of happiness, you ask? Hmmmm...it's all over the place, but it's also inside me. Yep, sometimes buried deep under bitch-mode, but it's always there. The thing is, there are days when I need a shovel to dig through the rotting compost I've piled on top of My Happy Space. Sometimes, I need dynamite. Sometimes, I need a simple key.

The trick, I have discovered after a lot of painful moments, is to keep a tool box full of any number of magical items that can grant me access to sparkling Happy Place inside. Psychologists and therapists call this "developing coping skills". I prefer to call it my In Case of Emergency kit. The thing is, I need simple, quick solutions and I am all about using technology to make my life easier AND happier.

Here's what I've done: I've created playlists of music and Youtube videos that I can access from my phone any time, any where (as long as the wi-fi and cell signal gods bless me). Whenever I come across one of those videos or songs that give me the happy chills or make my butt want to wiggle like an over-excited dog, I add it to one of my lists on Youtube or Spotify.

I have tons of playlists, but I recently decided to create one specifically called My Happy Place for the most current items. What ignites my happy changes over time, but also cycles back, so I'm going to try keeping a working, rotating My Happy Place list, as well as the random lists I've generated over the years.

Here's what I clicked on yesterday:


I bet you've seen this Android commercial at least once. When I saw it for the first time, little tingles ran up my spine and out through my arms and legs to my fingers and toes. I couldn't have stopped the grin if I tried. I immediately grabbed my cell phone, searched Youtube and added it to My Happy Place list. I still get that charge every time I see it. :-D And yes, even a commercial can be a key to our happy place. Really, you never know what's going to get the right reaction out of you.

When a song, a commercial, or a video gets inside your body and makes chemicals fizz and pop, that's when you know you have an excellent candidate for your own Happy Place list. It CANNOT just make you smile gently. It HAS to affect you deeply physically to really be worthy of your list. Why? That sensation is from happy hormones and neural chemicals being activated, which is exactly what you need when you're struggling with the blahs, anxiety, or even depression.

Music, stand-up comedy, and film resonate with me the most, but sometimes pictures and quotes do the trick, too. That's what I use Pinterest for.

You see, I don't have time when I'm down to wait for a serendipitous R.E.M. song to play or an orangatan to dance through my yard. When I need a pick me up, I need it NOW. So...voila! The internet to the rescue.

What do you do to combat the blahs? What songs make you want to dance the happy jig? What comic bits still make you bust a gut? I would love to hear your strategies for coping and the songs and videos that make you get up and boogie in your Happy Place, so please leave a comment below.

Also, feel free to check me out on Pinterest, Spotify, and Youtube to find out what's currently on my Happy Place playlists.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Post Snow Day Lethargy: A Not-So-Manic Monday

Round 4 with the Snow
It’s been cold, warm, icy, snowy, melty, muddy, and messy these last few weeks in Virginia. The kids have had so many “snow days” that their school is adding hours to the school week and taking away Memorial Day. I know! How dare they?! But right now, it’s 52 degrees (I know this because my husband keeps coming in the house and enthusiastically announcing the temperature) and its partially sunny, AND there are no kids underfoot. 

Wow. The silence is deafening. No computer beeping and booping as my son plays Minecraft. No TV playing the theme song to The Office every 23 minutes as Netflix automatically rolls through episode after episode. (Occasionally, my teenage daughter would glance up from Instagram to let Netflix know she was still “watching”.) No husband barking at the kids to clean up the puddle of mud and drenched gloves and snow boots from when they went outside to play in the mud snow.

It is so quiet I can hear the fridge humming, the ice clinking from the maker to the ice tray, and the keys clicking on my Macbook as I type this. *pauses to listen* I could actually accomplish something today…if I could figure out how to get my lazy butt up off the couch from whence I am writing this.

Is it sad of me to admit that I have no energy? Even mustering the enthusiasm to get up and pour myself another cup of coffee isn’t happening, and y’all know how much I love my coffee. What is wrong with me? *pulls greasy hair back in a ponytail* I haven’t worked out, showered, or dear Lord, even brushed my teeth yet and its already past noon. (Thank God they haven’t invented Touch Screen Scratch ’n Sniff, yet)

I wish I could say that this is an anomaly, but it happens every time I have a long weekend with the family, and frankly, I’m tempted to give in to this lethargy every single Monday. I know, I know. I am incredibly lazy. *hangs head in shame* Here I have one of the best jobs in the world—working from home, and I totally get it when my mom friends who have to work outside the home say they want to smack me for even complaining about this.

The Laundry Monster
BUUUUUT…it happens. So what’s the deal with the not-so-manic Mondays? As I sit here pondering in my oldest pair of yoga pants, I think I’m starting to get it. You know how we’re always trying to take care of our families? Not just the cooking, cleaning, and the laundry (dear God, the laundry!), but also making sure the kids aren’t eating entire bags of Doritos and going over math homework that makes my brain implode, so we spend hours looking this crap up on the internet?

What about helping the hubs book a flight on Delta for his next business trip, planning healthy meals so we don’t throw a frozen lasagna in the oven every night and beating myself up because the orange-glazed chicken with sautéed wild mushrooms and quinoa ended up being thrown in the crockpot? Did I mention baking and administering medicinal dog treats so the dog’s anal glands won’t explode, again? (yes, sadly, the dog’s butt is also something I must keep an eye on *winces*)

On top of the normal hoo-ha, when the kids have all these snow days I feel compelled to spend time with them, play games, come up with appropriate activities,  “get things done” that we don’t seem to have time for otherwise, and generally, vainly attempt to head off the cabin-fever frenzy. 

It’s really no wonder that I collapse on the bed couch when I they finally leave the house to go back to school. Isn’t it?? Please say yes.

I’m trying to embrace this moment, folks. I’m trying to allow myself to recover, rest, stare blankly at the wall…whatever it takes, whatever my brain and body need to get back to normal. Whatever normal is.  

One thing practicing yoga has taught me is that rest is as necessary as work. Ever take a yoga class? You know how they make you lie down at the end and take a little siesta? Well, in case you haven’t experienced this, at the end of yoga class, the instructor has you lie down on your back, close your eyes and wonder what the heck is going to happen now? And is she looking at the coffee stain on your shirt? (She is but she won't say a word about it. I promise. ;-) ) Then she says something about breathing, letting go of tension, yada yada yada.

Why is there nap time at the end of yoga? Well, its all about giving our brain and body a chance to chill. We've been active, so then it’s time to uh, not be active so our bodies and minds can relax into this new state we've created with all our moving around. You know how when you'd cram for an exam you would hit a point where you couldn't process one more iota of information until you took a break for awhile? It's like that.

We need this kind of downtime off the mat too, and when we force ourselves through the slumps instead of embracing them, we create a rest deficit and work overload. It’s like a pressure tank filling up Up UP until BOOM! We explode. Sometimes we find ourselves yelling at our kids or uber sick, sniveling in bed about how we can't believe how sick we are. Some of us experience anxiety attacks or pick fights with our partners. Some of us get depressed. Some of us binge eat. There’s a lot of coping mechanisms for being overtired and worn out. (BTW, these are all warning signs that you're not managing your stress.)

Maybe if we take the time to lie around in our PJs once in a while, we may prevent some of this stuff.

So, I have declared today a rest day. Mostly. The laundry is growling. I must tend to that at least before the smelly monster crawls out from under my daughter’s bed.

Do you have similar episodes of disfunction? When are you most likely to hit the wall? 
Have you learned to rest when you need to or are you like me, still figuring it out? 
Have you gotten out of your PJs today? 
Tell me your stories so I don’t feel so bad…and don’t worry if you haven’t showered since Friday. I won’t tell anyone. ;-)

Friday, March 06, 2015

Tempering Opinions with Compassion OR What Color is This Dress? #bravewriting

Have you ever been asked for your honest opinion? This happened the other day and I immediately
started sweating, then backed away slowly. Why? Because been there, done that. Yeah. Ahem. Seriously? I want to keep my friends, not piss them off. Besides, there are tons of political correct police out there looking for some reason to burn me at the stake for merely expressing my opinion.

It's gotten to the point that I think real debate has stopped all together. We're either screaming at each other in all caps on Facebook, calling each other names, or if you're like me, quietly scrolling by without sharing your opinion.

But I don't like being quiet. That's not how problems get solved. That's not how real debate happens. So I'm learning to cowgirl-up and participate in public debate without getting caught up in high emotional states that derail the discussion. What I have learned very quickly in this hyper-sensitive, every-body-is-offended-by-something age is that I have to temper my opinion with compassion.

Why? Why not just "say it like it is" and stop "pussy-footing around"? Because I’ve also learned that so-called brutal honesty is rarely effective. Actually, it never is. Most people will focus on the resulting pain or anger of our differing opinion for far too long, missing the opportunity to glean anything useful from it. Some people will avoid our words at all costs and some people will go on a social media campaign designed to take us down. Trolling, anyone?

Ever stumble across someone’s tirade on social media and found yourself scrolling away as quickly as possible? Or are you the type who smirks and settles in for a good flame session debate? Have you ever felt your neck get hot and found yourself typing madly away on your phone to set them straight? Did you delete it? Ahahahahha! I certainly have done that.

But you know what? Nothing productive can come from any of those actions, except maybe to let off steam. I have to admit writing my tirade does help to some extent, as long as I delete. If I post it, I immediately go into high anxiety mode. I know it's not everyone's keep of tea, but it would be much so better if we jogged a mile to work through our stress than to act like jackasses in public, putting other's down and generally slinging poo.

So what do we do when a friend asks for an honest opinion these days? I'm using an old Sufi saying that I printed and posted on my fridge as my guide.

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:

At the first gate, ask yourself is it true?

At the second, ask yourself is it helpful?

At the third gate, ask yourself is it kind?"

We can debate what true, helpful, and kind really means, but the gist of it is to avoid violent opinionating, which helps no one. 

If we're honest about it, we’ve probably never been convinced to change our mind by being bludgeoned with another’s opinion, so we shouldn't expect anyone to come to the dark our side after being beaten bloody by our words. Keep in mind our ideas are merely opinions, no matter how well researched. Yet, we often act as if our “truth” is somehow empirical. Sorry, but that’s just nonsense.

I don’t care what facts we think we have backing our opinions (do you know there are 'studies' out there supporting whatever stance we want to take on just about any issue?), there is always room for debate. I mean, for goodness sake, we can even argue over the color of the sky…or the color of a dress in an online picture. ;-)

So how do we resolve the "is it true?" question if much rests on the shoulders of point of view? Do some research. Be aware that we tend to gravitate toward studies and articles that support our opinion. We have to make ourselves dig deeper. We have to look for the studies that contradict our favorite studies and pet opinions. Be brave enough to look at all angles. How about considering a few good ideas rather than marrying a belief? Beliefs tend to lead to conflict. Good ideas tend to lead to open dialogue.

What else can we do to unearth the truth? Get our news from different sources. Avoid labeling an information source as "left", "right", "conservative", or "liberal", but do be aware that nothing written, filmed, or spoken is unbiased. Ever. Acknowledge that the truth is usually the tiny, tiny kernel that all sources can agree on. The rest? Opinion at best; propaganda at worst.

What about the helpful question? I think this means our words should contribute in a positive way, not a contaminating one. Contributing opinions come from an objective, constructive, considerate place; contaminating opinions are egotistical, judgement calls that might even intend to belittle, or worse. For example:

Contributing opinion: “I think we should not increase funding for public education without first having third party unbiased studies done on the effectiveness of the current curriculum."

Contaminating opinion: “Throwing money at a broken system is stupid and wasteful."

See the difference?

And what is kind? I think that means we should always be respectful and compassionate when communicating our opinions. There is another human being at the other end of our slings and arrows. They bleed; they have feelings; their wife is leaving them; their boyfriend just found out he has cancer; their kids are screaming and climbing all over them right this second. 

In the heat of debate it is too easy to dismiss the humanness of those who disagree with us. It's easy to resort to name-calling: stupid, ignorant, uneducated, selfish, evil, heartless, and so on. It's easy because its the basest, oldest part of human nature. So being kind requires we hold ourselves to a much higher, more evolved standard. 

Sooooo, what do you think? Can we start to debate from a more respectful, honest place? Or am I full of crap?