Gratitude Journal

Hi everyone,

This journal entry comes from my mom’s house in Maracay. I decided to take these days as self care days and spend them with my family (and by myself). The quote of the week reflects that as well. I think this holiday season my main focus is going to be self care, and giving self care the importance it deserves.

I’m grateful I have the opportunity to have self care days. These days allow me to control my stress level, and they allow me to have a clear mind and come up with new and fresh ideas. I usually come up with ideas for work, but this time I also want to come up with ideas for myself and every other aspect of my life. And of course I’m grateful about the holiday break, I think we all need it. I’m going to be doing something new this break and I’m very excited and grateful about it.

Another thing I realized this week, is that I always need to make an effort for the people that I love to feel that love and feel comfortable with our relationship. I realized that I’m willing to make an effort, even when things are not all fun and games, and I’m very proud of that. I think this is self care as well, because if my relationships are not ok, I don’t think I’m going to be ok. I know a recurring theme for my journal is being grateful about my friends and family, and that is because I really am. In this crazy world, I rather be grateful about the people around me than the things around me.

However, I am grateful about going shopping during the holiday break, especially because I want to buy new pens and markers and things I don’t need.

What are your holiday plans? I hope you take some of your free time to be grateful and celebrate all the awesome people and experiences in your life.

Happy holidays!

Ms. Gaby Di Muro



9 pieces of practical advice about bullying


A teacher, psychologist, crisis-line supervisor and others share their suggestions for what you can do.

Bullying knows no borders — it occurs in every country in the world — and its impact can last long after the incidents end. For National Bullying Prevention Month, we asked people from the TED community who have firsthand experience of the problem to offer their best advice.

1. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness …

“Don’t think that letting someone else know you’re being bullied or asking them for help is a sign of weakness or that it’s a situation you should be able to handle on your own. Going through it alone isn’t a sign of strength on your part, because that’s what the bully wants. They want your isolation, they want you to feel helpless, and if they think they got you in that position, then they’re often emboldened. That was a mistake I made as a kid. It made things worse. When you don’t reach out, you feel like nobody understands what you’re going through and nobody can help you. Those monologues in your mind start getting louder.”
Eric Johnson, sixth-grade teacher from Indiana and a TED-Ed Innovative Educator (TEDxYouth@BHS Talk: How do you want to be remembered?)

2. … And telling someone about being bullied is not snitching.

“Often, kids have this fear of what they call snitching. But if you feel significant stress when you come to school, if it’s too hard for you to come into the building, or if you have the fear that someone will bother you by saying something or touching you inappropriately, then you must tell someone. This is not snitching — you’re protecting yourself.”
Nadia Lopez, principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, Brooklyn, New York (TED Talk: Why open a school? To close a prison)

3. Surround yourself with allies.

“Bullies tend not to want to bully someone when that person is in a group, so make sure you’re with friends, people you trust and connect with. Knowing you have defenders around you who will stand up for you can really help.”
— Jen James, founding supervisor of the Crisis Text Line (Watch the TED Talk: How data from a crisis text line is changing lives from Crisis Text Line founder and CEO Nancy Lublin)

4. Try to pity, rather than hate, your bullies.

“I was bullied as a child, and I like to think the experience contributed to my sense of empathy. I want to see people treated with dignity, always. But for those who are being bullied, the key thing for them to remember is that bullying is not a show of strength but a show of weakness on the bully’s part. And if you can pity those who are bullying you — which I know is not so easy to do — then you can defend your inner self from their behavior.”
Andrew Solomon, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center (TED Talk: Love, no matter what)

5. It’s possible to triumph over bullies in your own mind.

“Fighting back on the inside can be as important as what happens on the outside. There was a study of 81 adults who were held as political prisoners in East Germany. They were subjected to mental and physical abuse, and decades after release, about two-thirds of the prisoners had struggled or were still struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder; one-third of the prisoners had not. Why? The smaller group had fought back in their own minds. Even though they complied with guards and signed false confessions, they prevailed on the inside in ways no one could see. Secretly, they refused to believe they were defeated, and they imagined that, sooner or later, they’d triumph.”
Meg Jay, clinical psychologist and associate professor of education at the University of Virginia (TED Talk: Why 30 is not the new 20)

6. Focus on everything that’s great about you; others notice those things, too.

“If you’re being bullied, remind yourself of all the good and beautiful things about you. You, like most of us, are here to make the world a better place. Nobody is liked by everyone, so just because one bully or one group of bullies doesn’t like you doesn’t mean other people don’t see all your amazing qualities.”
–Shameron Filander, sixth grade student and member of a TED-Ed Club in Capetown, South Africa

7. The traits singled out by your bullies are the ones that make you the wonderfully singular person you are.

“Bullies think and think about us to come up with various ways to make us feel down. But whatever reason you’re bullied for, that’s exactly what makes you unique! Do they call you fat? Correct them: you are not fat; you are just easier to see! Do they say you have a big nose? Tell them you breathe better than other people do! Everything about you is unique, like nothing else in the world.”
–Donara Davtyan, college freshman and former member of TUMO TED-Ed Club in Yerevan, Armenia

8. If you’re considering retaliating against your bullies, stop before you act.

“Pause for a moment, and understand that what you’re about to do or about to say can have long-range implications. What you do or say will be how you’re remembered. So think: how do you want to be remembered? As somebody who was kind or mean?”
–Eric Johnson, teacher

9. If you ever witness someone being bullied, show them your support.

“This can be in the moment or afterwards, and it can consist of sending them a text, an anti-bullying emoji, or asking them to sit with you. Stepping into a bullying situation can sometimes be helpful if handled in the right way, but that’s not always right for each situation or each upstander.”
— Monica Lewinsky, social activist (TED Talk: The price of shame)

Gratitude Journal

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a Saturday, but I think I’m grateful to be working, or maybe I’m just saying that because I have to do it either way. Maybe I’m taking this gratitude thing too far.

Anyhow, being grateful is my thing, so I’ll just keep doing it for whatever reason. Which means I’m grateful I got into his huge fight with a very close friend. We had an issue a while ago and we weren’t able to solve it, but this week we did, and I’m so happy we did, because I missed him a lot. I’m also happy we talked things out because I learned from our mistakes, and I hope I don’t do the same things I did wrong this time, in the future. I used to think that some friends were not meant to last, but I’m starting to change my mind, because if I want them to stay, I can make an effort and make sure people stay in my life.

This week I received great advise from a friend, and is the quote of the week this week. I’ve been so stressed lately, I thought I was losing my mind, but then I started thinking about the saying “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” and relaxed a little bit, even realized that I have the power to say no, and make priorities.  It was a great reality check, I need to remember that I’m not able to control and do everything. I’m feeling better now and I have plans with my friends this weekend, so I hope to disconnect and enjoy the little things (even though I’m working on a Saturday) (by little things I mean finally watching season 2 of Stranger Things)

To be honest, my fight with my friend and my conversation with my other friend are the two main things I’m grateful about this week. However, I do have to say I’m grateful about Fran, but that’s a given, I honestly don’t know what would I do without him.

Little things I’m grateful about this week: I tried two new recipes, and they both turned out delicious. I ate Pirulin. I bought my agenda for next year (and it has kitties on the cover) and I watched my favorite episode of Community.

I hope you had a not so stressful week, and remember, we are only two weeks away from Holiday Break!

Ms. Gaby Di Muro

5 pieces of essential life advice from seniors

It’s hard to feel a sweeping sense of perspective when you’re stuck in traffic, or feeling buried by work, or overwhelmed by family demands. But those are exactly the moments when some words of wisdom from your elders — the people who’ve been there, like the ones below — can come in handy.

Each of these insights comes from a conversation conducted during the Great Thanksgiving Listen, an annual initiative from TED Prize winner Dave Isay and his team at StoryCorps that asks people to interview an older family member or friend during the US holiday weekend. By participating, you could unlock new stories about your family or gain a different perspective on historical events, while ensuring your loved one’s story is preserved in the StoryCorps Archive at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. And you might just hear a piece of useful advice that will get you through a difficult moment.

Think of hard times like bad weather — they too will pass.

Arden Fleming, 15, calls her grandmother Agneta Vulliet her “biggest role model.” Vulliet, the daughter of French immigrants, grew up in New York City, and she says she first learned about independence when she went to boarding school. Vulliet left school before graduation to get married, and ended up getting her high school degree at night school — while raising two kids. She studied art in college, where a professor was impressed with her determination and recommended her for a scholarship. Toward the end of their interview, recorded in October 2017 in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Fleming asked her grandmother for advice.

“What I want you to know and keep in mind is that your 20s are very turbulent and that it does get better,” Vulliet says. “You want so much for yourself, you have such expectations, you have so many wishes to succeed, and there’s a lot of anxiety that goes with how all that will take shape. I never want you to get carried away with how hard it seems.” She adds, “Growing up is a lot like the weather. Every time you hit the big storms that seem like they’re going to snow you under, it will change and get better — and the sun will come out.”

Draw inspiration from all the people you meet.

Bill Janz traveled the world as a journalist, and wrote a column for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about ordinary people who’d shown remarkable courage. In a 2015 interview with his 14-year-old grandson, Jasper Kashou in Freedonia, Wisconsin, the now-retired Janz shared memorable stories from his days as a reporter — of almost falling off an elephant into tall grass where a tiger was hiding while in India, and of crawling on his belly to avoid sniper fire in Croatia during the Bosnian War.

But when Kashou asked him about the person who’d impacted him the most, Janz spoke of someone closer to home. “A boy named Eddy helped me see a little bit about what life is all about,” says Janz. Eddy was a 10-year-old he’d written about whose leg was amputated due to cancer. “No matter what happened to him, he never gave up,” he recalls. “I called Eddy once at home, and the phone rang and rang and rang. Finally, he picked up the phone. I said, ‘Eddy. I was just about to hang up. Where were you?’ And he said, ‘Bill, I was in another room. My crutches weren’t near, so I crawled to the phone.’” Janz often finds himself thinking about that conversation. “He was only a young man, but he was teaching an old man to never give up,” Janz said. “I sometimes tend to give up and go do something else, and [he helps me] remember not to do that.”

Love your work — for the salary and for the people.

Bennie Stewart, 80, got his first job at age 7 — he’d run errands for his neighbors and get paid in chicken eggs. In a 2015 interview with grandaughter Vanyce Grant, 17, in Chicago, he talked through his many jobs. Stewart chopped cotton for $3 a day in 115 degree heat; bused dishes; cleaned buildings as a janitor; sold insurance; and eventually found his passion as a social worker and, later, as a pastor.

Grant asked his grandfather about what led him to these different occupations. “I love talking to people,” Stewart says. “I’ve been told I have the gift of gab, so I can talk and I can grasp things real fast. I always took pride in being able to listen to instructions and pick them up quick.” What lessons did he learn from his work experience? “It taught me that I can have something of my own and provide for my family and get some of the things in life that I couldn’t,” he says.

These themes echo those in an interview that Torri Noakes, 16, recorded with her grandmother Evelyn Trouser, 59, in 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Trouser worked in auto factories, first on the line and then as a welder. “My advice to everybody in my family: learn to take care of yourself. Don’t depend on anyone to provide you with anything,” Trouser says. She refuted any notion that her jobs were dreary. “I used to love going to work,” she said. “It’s the people you’re with that makes a job fun or not. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the people you’re with that make things different.”

Find mentors who can guide you and challenge you.

Allen Ebert, 73, reminisced about his working days in an interview with grandsonIsaiah Ebert, 15, also recorded in 2016 in Flint. Ebert first worked as a welder in an auto factory when he was young and said the experience helped him once he entered medical school. “If you understand how something works, when it breaks you know what to look for and how to fix it,” he said. “Even the body is mechanical.”

When Ebert spoke about his experiences as a doctor, he impressed one thing upon his grandson: look for mentors. “The stuff you’re doing right now in school, you’re learning from people who know something you don’t know. Continue that throughout your life,” he says.

To find mentors, you should look beyond your bosses and teachers. “Just develop relationships with people whom you can observe, even from a distance, and see how they accomplish things,” Ebert says. “The way I look at it: in life, we probably make 95 percent good decisions and about 5 percent messed-up decisions. A large part of our lives as adults is fixing the mess of those few wrong decisions, and you can minimize them by just having people in your life who will challenge you and make you think twice, who will say, ‘Well, that doesn’t sound right to me.’”

Make the most of less.

According to StoryCorps, many people use the Great Thanksgiving Listen as a time to ask about family recipes. Along with step-by-step instructions, they receive a slice of family history, as well as life advice.

Some of the stories highlight one of the secrets to a life well-lived: learning to make the most of what you have. Kiefer Inson, 28, talked to his grandmother Patricia Smith, 80, about her classic tuna noodle casserole made with canned tuna. “When I was 18, I was married and had a child and did not have an outside job, so I’d go to the library, bring home cookbooks, and try the recipes,” Smith says. “Back then, we were on a very limited budget. A pound of fish cost 69 cents, so I learned to cook a lot of things with that.” Jaxton Bloemhard, 16, interviewed his mother, Bethany Bloemhard, 38, about Ukranian pierogies. She told him how her own grandmother would make hundreds at a time. “She’d tell stories about how they kept the Ukranian people alive,” says Bethany Bloemhard. “The Ukrainians grew potatoes like nobody’s business, and as long as you had flour, water and some oil, you could make the dough.”

Other stories point to the need to keep trying until you succeed. June Maggard, 87, spoke to her granddaughter Emily Sprouse, 33, about the recipe book that she’s kept for 30 years. “People say they can’t make bread or biscuits, or anything really, but you just have to learn the feel,” Maggard says. “That comes by doing.”


Gratitude Journal

Hi everyone,

Gratitude was all around us during Thanksgiving. The feast was so nice, and everyone seemed to have a good time. I’m very grateful that our community has the opportunity to celebrate such a wonderful holiday. I’m also grateful about all the nice things we shared that day, I was even surprised when some of you came up to me to say thank you, which made the day even more special.

But the biggest thing I’m grateful about this week is my family. I was able to spend a lot of time with my mom, my stepdad, my grandparents and my cats. I had to share some news with them and everyone was happy and supportive and my mom made the best carrot cake ever. Even though I wasn’t feeling very well during break, the gratitude I made sure to have about being with my family, made me enjoy our break time as much as I could.

The news I shared with my family I would like to share it with you as well. Next year I will be the Secondary counselor and the College counselor. I’m very, very excited. I’m going to have a lot more responsibilities and it will probably be harder, but I can’t wait to continue to work with you and have more resources to help you as much as I can. Two weeks ago, my new role in school was announced and I received a lot of support from my coworkers, which makes me very grateful! And I’m especially grateful about the support I’ve received from those of you who knew about this, you guys are the reason I love my job.

Because of that, I’m also very happy to be back at work, big things are happening this week, so what better way to start the week than by being grateful.

See you around, have a great week!

Ms. Gaby Di Muro

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone,

Thanksgiving is a very special holiday for me. I love it because it lets me enjoy two very important parts of my life, my job and my family. I’m very grateful CIC has such a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration, and that during this holiday I get to spend time with my mom, stepdad and grandparents, who live in another city.

I’m especially excited this year, because I won’t be spending Christmas with my mom, but I will be spending Thanksgiving with her (and the cats).

The one part of my life that is not usually celebrated during Thanksgiving are my friends. But I’m very grateful for them and I like to think about them during this time, because they represent my Valencia family, and I’m not sure I would have been able to survive without them.

I came across this article about considering friends as family. I liked it because it speaks the truth, it mentions how relationships are messy, the messier they are the closer they become.

When Friends Are ‘Like Family’ by Deborah Tannen

“My friends are the sisters I was meant to have,” a woman told me. Another said that her friends are more precious than her sisters because they remember things from her past that her sisters don’t and can’t, since they weren’t there. And a man commented that he didn’t enjoy a particular friend’s company all that much, but it was beside the point: “He’s family.”

I interviewed over 80 people for a book I’m writing about friendship, and was struck by how many said that one or another friend is “like family.”

These comments, and how people explained them, shed light on the nature of friendship, the nature of family, and something that lies at the heart of both: what it means to be close.

For friends, as for family, “close” is the holy grail of relationships. (In both contexts I often heard, “I wish we were closer” but never “I wish we weren’t so close.”)

What people meant by “close” could be very different, but their comments all helped me understand how friends could be like family – and why I often say of my friend Karl, “He’s like my brother.” First is longevity. We met at summer camp when I’d just turned 15, and the seeds of closeness were planted during one of those wondrous extended self-revealing teenage conversations, when we sat side by side behind the dining hall. Our friendship continued and deepened as we exchanged long letters that traversed the distance between our homes in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

After college, Karl was the one I called at 2 a.m. when I made a last-minute decision not to join the Peace Corps. Two decades later, we were traveling together when I showed him the photograph of a man I’d just met, saying, “It’s crazy but I keep thinking I’m going to marry him” – and I did.

I was there when Karl left Brown for Julliard, and, years later, when he came out as gay. Karl knew my parents, my cousins, my first husband and the other friends who have been important in my life, as I knew and know his. I visit his mother in a nursing home just as I’d visit my own, were she still alive. We can refer to anything and anyone in our pasts without having to explain.

If I’m upset about something, I call him; I trust his judgment, though I might not always follow his advice. And finally, maybe most of all, there’s comfort. I feel completely comfortable in his home, and when I’m around him, I can be completely and unselfconsciously myself.

It’s not that we don’t get on each other’s nerves. It’s that we do. A cartoon about a married couple could have been about us: A woman standing in the kitchen is saying to the man before her, “Is there anything else I can do wrong for you?” I sometimes feel that whatever I do within Karl’s view, he’ll suggest I do a different way.

All the elements making our friendship so close that Karl is like a brother were threaded through the accounts of people I interviewed. “We’re close” could mean they talk about anything; or that they see each other often; or that, though they don’t see each other often, when they do, it’s as though no time has passed: They just pick up where they left off. And sometimes “close” meant none of the above, but that they have a special connection, a connection of the heart.

There were also differences in what “anything” meant, in the phrase “We can talk about anything.” Paradoxically, it could be either very important, very personal topics, or insignificant details. A woman said of a friend, “We’re not that close; we wouldn’t talk about problems in our kids’ lives,” but, of another, “We’re not that close; we wouldn’t talk about what we’re having for dinner.”

“Like family” can mean dropping in and making plans without planning: You might call up and say, “I just made lasagna. Why don’t you come over for dinner?” Or you can invite yourself: “I’m feeling kind of low. Can I come over for dinner?”

Many grown children continue to wish that their parents or siblings could see them for who they really are, not who they wish them to be. This goal can be realized in friendship. “She gets me,” a woman said of a friend. “When I’m with her I can be myself.”

It would be easy to idealize family-like friendship as all satisfaction and cheer. And maybe for some lucky people it is. But friends can also resemble family by driving you crazy in similar ways. Why does she insist on washing dishes by hand when dishwashers do a better job of killing germs? Why does he always come exactly five minutes late?

Just as with literal families, friends who are like family can bring not only happiness but also pain, because the comfort of a close bond can sometimes morph into the restraints of bondage. The closer the bond, the greater the power to hurt – by disappointing, letting you down or, the ultimate betrayal, by dying. When a friend dies, a part of you dies, too, as you lose forever the experiences, the jokes, the references that you shared. A woman in her 70’s who was mourning her lifelong best friend said the worst part was not being able to call her up and tell her how terrible she felt about her dying.

Sometimes we come to see friends as family because members of the family we grew up with live far away or feel too different, or are just too difficult to deal with. A woman who ended all contact with a sister explained that the option of cutting off a family member who brings you grief is a modern liberation, like the freedom to choose a spouse or divorce one. Holes left by rejected (or rejecting) relatives — or left by relatives lost to distance, death or circumstance — can be filled by friends who are like family. But family-like friends don’t have to be filling holes at all. Like my friend Karl, they can simply add richness, joy and, yes, at times, aggravation, that a literal family – in my case, two sisters I’m very close to — also provides.

Cultivate your relationships, learn from the people you love, support them and be grateful, because family is all around us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ms. Gaby Di Muro

Gratitude Journal 

Hi everyone, 

This week I’m very grateful about the power of having a positive attitude. I know it requires a lot of effort to always look on the bright side, but the reward is so good! Having a positive attitude has helped me with almost everything, from not getting sick on the road (I usually feel dizzy) to getting over a big fight with a friend, because while we were upset I kept thinking we were going to get over our differences and start fresh with a stronger friendship, and that’s exactly what happened. 

As you probably know, I truly believe in the power of our thoughts and words, especially because I see the power of your thoughts every once in a while. I see how you overcome an F and start getting awesome grades when you start believing in yourself. I see how you try new things because you have the self confidence to follow your true wishes. These, a many other situations like them, are examples of positive thinking. You all have the power to do it, I wish you give it a try. If you do, let me know how it goes. 

Last Friday I got to meet other counselors and talk about our favorite parts of our job. It was so much fun to be with people that like what I like and share some of my ideas. That experience made me think about another great power, the power of surrounding ourselves with people that bring positive energy into our lives. I know I’m surrounded of positive, fun energy when I’m with you, also when I’m with my mom or my best friends. It’s our responsibility to allow the right people to be close to us, and to also be a source of positive energy to the people that choose to include us in their lives. Think about how you can be the best source of energy to the people you like and love, and again, give it a try. 

Another great thing I was able to think about this past week was, our confort zone and the need to get out of it every now and then. I was very out of it this weekend and it was amazing, I had fun, I learned and I developed new relationships. I understand not every time we leave or confort zone we are going to have amazing results, but I do think trying new things, breaking our habits, doing something we are scared of doing, is worth it, and I’m grateful I get the chance to do it.  

Last but not least, Thanksgiving is coming up and I couldn’t be happier, because I will get to see my cats after almost a month (and also my mom, my stepdad and my grandparents) I wish everyone an awesome break with awesome people and awesome food. 

See you around, 

Ms. Gaby Di Muro