Puppy Dreams

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I love to watch my dog sleep.  He curls up on our couch or his fluffy doggy bed, head and paws touching, tail tucked close to his body and falls asleep in what seems like seconds.  Soon I hear little woof-woofs while his nose twitches and paws move gently as if running through air. What is he dreaming about? Is he chasing the bunny, playing at the dog park, or running to greet me?  Or, is his puppy dreaming nothing more than sleep reflexes as his brain does what all dogs brains do when they sleep.

He wakes, pops his head up and looks around and our eyes meet.  I think he is confused for only a moment wondering, how did I get here?  Wasn’t I running with the deer in the woods, birds singing, squirrels chattering. I came so close to the edge of the forest where I have never been before.

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His head drops back down and he sighs deeply, sometimes he yawns, then he slop slops his mouth and swallows.  Maybe his dream gave him a juicy steak or his most revered treat – a hot dog.  Whatever may have happened, or not happened, he is off to sleep again just-like-that.

I love to listen to my dog sleep. I laugh when he sleep-barks and am contented by the sound of his rhythmic breathing.  I have to resist the pull to snuggle him close, to stroke his back, scratch behind his ear, and lay my head on his chest.  The boom boom of his heart moves me and the single lick to my face he grants is a sweet gift. His gift tells me everything is alright, I am loved, I am safe.

I love him.  My beautiful, gentle, boy is asleep, his paws flutter and I can’t help but watch him.
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3 Hot Tips For Drop-to-Your-Knees-Awesome Content!

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Getting people to read your content starts with a thwackingly great headline.

The bait is taken now keep readers hooked. Deliver Drop-To-Your-Knees-Awesome content with these 3 hot tips:
BAM! Get to the point.

Don’t make me pick off the fat to get to the meat. Scrollers are gonna scroll so save them the time by giving them what they came for. We are skimmers and fickle and off to the next headline before you can say, Tic-Tac Sir?

Dumb-and-Dumber

YOO-HOO…Give me eye candy.

Break up your text with cool-with-attitude pictures and images that invoke my emotions and make me want to stay awhile.

P1150197WOW! Astonish me.

Teach me. Life-hack me. Show me something wonderful, something so brilliant that I can’t bring myself to close the window. I’m not talking bookmark worthy – I mean mind-freaking amazing unique material that makes me want to share it and keep it as my prize. Finally, after so much time suck on social media I have found…you.

Lastly, give me a bonus: something I wasn’t expecting. Mine is recognition. I am blown away when you notice me, you share my post, you reciprocate a follow, when you respond to my comment on your blog, and you say my name! Genuine appreciation will never be forgotten.
small-fish

Most of us are but small fish swimming in a juggernaut sea.

To get noticed don’t be run-of-the-mill average. Stand out even once, and your audience will keep coming back for more.

And, don’t give people too many links lest they swim too far out to sea. Save the great links for the end. My favorite place for help in creating better-than-great content is Copyblogger.

Have any more tips for writing Drop to your knees awesome content? I would love to hear your ideas! I can always use a little help from my friends.

Oh, How I Love Art…

I do, I do, I do believe in art, and lots of it. I posted a detailed review of Artsology at our family’s blog: Homeschoolbuzz Here’s a teaser, and a link to the review in it’s entirety.

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Art has always been a core subject in our boy’s homeschool education, right alongside reading, math, writing, and video games.  Gaming got there by default: three boys, majority rules, 21st century, it’s in their blood. I quit fighting and embraced the games.

A diverse and consistent exposure to art throughout your children’s formative years is essential to a well rounded education. I just finished perusing Artsology.com and had to tell you what a goldmine of free art lessons and online games they offer!  They also explore topics in music and literature. I was surprised to learn Artsology has been around for eleven years, and bummed to think I missed out on some great art explorations!

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." - Walt Disney

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

Seriously, Artsology has a rich and assorted harvest of art education and artistic opportunities to enrich and inspire students of all ages. I appreciate their passion and commitment to building such a commendable site. Their mission is to be “the teacher” who made an extra effort, far beyond normal teacher responsibilities, to expose students to art/music they might not have otherwise heard. Read my review in its entirety here

Share Your Burden, Bear a Burden, Find Freedom

P1150888There was a time in my life where I avoided suffering.  Ironic for someone who chose nursing as a career.  I didn’t last as a hospital nurse.  I made excuses for why I couldn’t go to a funeral or wake.  I stopped watching the news.  I became tongue tied when I did try to offer condolences or comfort a suffering friend.  The thought of adding even an ounce of someone else’s burden to my own triggered in me panic and fear.

Until I tried it. A little here and there, I didn’t collapse.

I could take more weight.  As I exercised my burden bearing ability, my spirit became stronger, and my own heavy load seemed lighter, so much less important. The act of sharing another person’s hardship freed me from my overwhelming fears of suffering, pain, and death.

Now, I can’t walk through life and not see burdens everywhere I go.

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The traffic of my daily encounters reveal so many who suffer. Some, in silence – others publicly as the media broadcasts their pain. Whether a public figure or a neighbor you hardly know, there are burdened people who are desperate, alone, and in serious need of care.

Our individual burdens will become more bearable when we help carry another’s.  We become liberated and our purpose becomes clearer. To know you have lifted the burdens of another, made the road easier, shared the pain – it eases our own.

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Though the heavy laden haven’t asked for your help, I can assure you, they cry for it when they are alone. God help me. Someone help me! I can’t take it. I feel so hopeless.

People in the midst of terrible, heavy suffering hide it. They don’t want you to know they are on the verge of breaking.  You have to look with your eyes but see with your heart. Don’t let them slip by.

Be a blessing. Be an angel. Let God work through you. Are you burdened? Share the weight.  When a friend or an acquaintance asks, what can I do?  Is there anything you need? Anything at all? Say yes, I will share my burden with you. And let the miracle of healing begin.

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There will never be a shortage of suffering in this world. None of us truly know the right thing to say or do when tragedy strikes. It’s ok. Just don’t turn your back and run. Start small. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Share a burden, bear a burden, find freedom.  What about you? What thoughts or personal experiences come to mind? I hope you will comment…thanks.

charles dickens

Memorize Anything With 3 Blissfully Simple Tricks

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Einstein once said,

I never memorize anything I can look up.  

My youngest son heard me say that one day and now he says there’s no point in memorizing the multiplication tables.

I need to save my gray matter for things that are important.  He says.

P1150001Memorization is not that hard. It’s as blissfully simple as finding patterns and anchoring information with things you can relate to.
Take names. Are you like me and as soon as you are introduced to a new person you shake hands and say Hi Mr. Blah Blah and then forget his name just as soon as it rolls off your tongue? Why does that happen?

Because memory formation is an energy-consuming process.

In order to remember a new name you will have to make an effort: repeat the name, say it again, and make an association in your mind to go with the name.
stashP1140329Take this fella – his name is Mario. I say the name Mario, notice his mustache and make the connection with this guy:

Mario=Stash

Mario=Stash

The only problem is now I think every dude with a black stash is named Mario.
Or have you tried to memorize a phone number or an address with no success? Forget spending money on how to books or wasting your time on workshops.  Amaze yourself and soon become a power networker, win friends and influence people with these 3 little memorization tricks. Facts, quotes, poems, names, number sequences, commercial jingles, or how to do the Macarena. Nothing is impossible.

  • Imagery

Most people remember images best. Images are concrete, and serve as mental hooks to store and receive information from your long term memory. However, for this to work, you need to know how to FOCUS. You have this glob of facts or words, and you have to take time to convert this to pictures. Lets try a trip to the grocery store. You need to pick up milk, bananas, coffee and dog food. Convert the list to an image. Your dog trips on a banana peel while pouring milk into his coffee. Of course it’s silly.  All the more likely you’ll remember it.

MOO.

MOO.

I’ve been learning Spanish on Memrise.  They have you select a meme to help you memorize your phrases and new words.  For Hablo I have the word written over a simple drawing of a girl shouting Ha! while her companion is blowing a bubble.

  • Chunking

This refers to the strategy of breaking down information into bite-sized pieces so the brain can more easily digest new information. It works better with four, maybe five bits.
P1070558In nursing school I memorized the bones of the face with a mnemonic F.P. Tose which was enough to trigger my brain to remember frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, sphenoid, and ethmoid.
How about numbers? Say you wanted to memorize the number 67812398422. It will be a challenge if you tried because most people can recall only about 6 digits, and after that it gets tough to remember more. Instead, break it up. Group them into 2 or 3 digits. That big number is way easier if you try it like this: 678-123-984-22 How many numbers in a row can you recall?

  • Sing it

P1120233I loved using this technique when my kids were little and they needed to learn  grammar rules or lists.  Make whatever you are learning into a catchy jingle. Use an original tune, a nursery rhyme or favorite song.  Music helps us remember words.  That’s why it is easy to learn the words to a song rather than learn the words to a story.
Memorizing is good for the brain, and doesn’t have to be a chore. Just remember, if you want to make something memorable, you first have to make it meaningful.

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Where are Your Manners?

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You can find them at Homeschoolbuzz.com

Here’s a clip of my contribution to this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.

As a teacher, there are some behaviors I am more apt to tolerate than others. Fidgety? I understand, I’m the same way. Forgetful? That’s expected: we all have lots of things to remember. Unfinished assignments? As long as it isn’t an everyday ongoing occurrence, I can deal with. But bad manners? Impropriety of behavior is one thing I will not tolerate in my students. It’s a good thing I have only had three in my homeschool because ingraining proper manners and instilling sincere politeness in my boys has required consistent effort.
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Because the most effective form of teaching is role modeling, teaching manners has required me to be on my best behavior,  especially when my boys were young. Little ones are always watching and they imitate what they see. Tutorials, books with colorful illustrations, acting, singing. it is good to combine all types of teaching techniques, but if you really want your children to be good mannered, be their example.

Continue reading and find a classic poster on Good Manners based on the Children’s National Guild of Courtesy.

If I Told You the Truth You Would Think I’m a Horrible Person

P1140783 Are you smoking? Do you do drugs? How much do you drink? Are you having sex? Is someone abusing you? Do you have thoughts of harming or killing yourself? Are you having an affair? Did you steal this? Did you cheat? What’s wrong?

Providers, parents, spouses, therapists, teachers, caring friends ask difficult questions like these. But the truth – the carefully hidden secretsare not easily disclosed.

Why?

Because.
If I told you the truth

If you knew what I did, what I am doing, what I really think.
I can’t tell you.  I can’t tell anyone.

I Can't Tell You Because

I Can’t Tell You Because

We need to build trust to gain truth.
When discussing delicate subjects or asking uncomfortable questions, keep in mind what is said is not always the whole truth.

The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said.  Peter E. Drucker

When taking a history I’ve learned to double the alcohol and cigarettes patients admit to. Out of breath, gum chewing, coughing, clothes smell like smoke tells me my patient is smoking despite her claims to have quit.

Impossible is always probable. Pregnancy tests come back positive despite emphatic insistence there was no possible chance.
I would never do that means I’ve already, I am currently, or I’m thinking of it.

People tell you what they think you want to hear. They don’t want to disappoint you. They don’t want to disappoint themselves. They don’t want you to think they are horrible.
Deny, lie, pretend, avoid, hide, bury, run, evade, fight.
P1150490 What do we do? How do we encourage honesty? How do we gain the trust of those we love or want to help?
Furthermore, wherever we find ourselves in life, how can we help others achieve their goals?

Of all the techniques I’ve tried to help me build trust to gain truth, the only thing I’ve found that works is to be genuine. To be real. To be me.
To show my vulnerability, my humanity, to accept others where they are, for who they are, and show them they don’t have to settle, they can change, there is hope, they are not alone.  We all have baggage, doubts, sins, and scars.

Tell your teen you are not there to judge, lecture, scare, or shame.
P1150503Reassure your client you are there to identify problems, accurately diagnose, propose proper treatment, and provide needed follow-up. If they are honest, you can better help.

Take an interest in a neighbor, your co-worker. Say their name, correctly. Let them know you see them.  Be a friend.
Clarify or restate what your spouse tells you when he is sharing his pain. Don’t interrupt.  It’s not time for sharing your feelings.
Remind your patient her medical record and your conversation is confidential. There are a few instances where you have to disclose what you’re told, be aware of those.
Establish trust, or you will never get truth.

I often ask my patients:

This is your life, are you who you want to be?

If not, what do you want to change, and how can I help?

What about you? What are your thoughts or reflections? Please share with me.

Where I Encourage You to Steal

I am a thief. Well, not in the traditional sense – I don’t go around at night breaking into houses, and I haven’t stolen candy from the grocery store since I was 8 years old.  But, I am doing the things Austin Kleon suggests I should be doing to unlock my creativity and produce some good stuff – I’m stealing like an artist.
In Steal Like an Artist, Austin’s definition of stealing is not unethical, illegal,or plagiarism. It’s about finding ideas out there that are good and stealing them, or “embracing the influence”. It’s the way art is done.

The only art I’ll ever study is the art I can steal from. David Bowie

Art is theft. Picasso

Start copying what you love.  Copy copy copy copy.  At the end of the copy you will find yourself.  Yohji Yamamoto

According to Austin, what to copy is tricky. He says,

Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes. The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds.

That’s what you really want – to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be anything more than a knockoff.

I love this book because I suck at art, yet I am still an artist.  Aren’t we all artists?  The writer, blogger, dancer, chef, painter, mother, student, gardner, speaker, teacher, preacher, singer. This book is for us. What’s your art?

We all need a hero. Who are yours?

Join me. Let’s get busy stealing and find our voice in the process.

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Leaders: Want to Be the Best? These 9 Traits Are Essential

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams
Are you a leader? Answer me honestly:

shareasimage-6 If you answered yes, I would expect that you are continually bettering yourself to go beyond good. Great? Outstanding? Excellent? Elegant? Strive for any, pursue all. Just don’t think you have learned everything there is to be a leader. Hubris is not a virtue. As Vince Lombardi said so well,

Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.

We need leaders who have vision, who inspire us to be better, do better, and can unlock the potential we have to do phenomenal work. These nine traits of leadership are essential if you desire to accomplish great things, to make the world a better place.

  • Vision
  • Wisdom
  • Resolve
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Respectfulness
  • Mindful
  • Inspiring
  • Listener

P1100764Whether you lead a family, a business, a group, or you have aspirations to be a leader. You don’t need a title to be a leader. If people follow you, are inspired by you, look to you for direction, you are a leader. Now do what you can to be the best. Glean from the past and present undeniably great leaders among us, your team needs you.  Don’t let us down.

#The supreme quality of leadership is integrity. Dwight Eisenhower

#Education is the mother of leadership. Wendell Willkie

#Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. Brian Tracy

#You have achieved excellence as a leader when people will follow you everywhere if only out of curiosity. Colin Powell

#A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do. Leroy Eims

#Stop tolerating in your leaders what you would not tolerate in your friends.  Michael Ventura

#The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. Max DePree

#Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. Jack Welch

#A company is people … employees want to know… am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted. Richard Branson

#I am…Jesus

Who inspires you? Who is your role model for leadership? What do you think is an essential trait for effective leaders?

tagul leadership

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out: 20 Best Pieces of Advice

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Do you want to be successful and happy? Then listen to those who have gone before you. Grab those nuggets of wisdom that others have collected through their years of living, making mistakes, and learning lessons along the way.

Ask this question to the business owner, the couple who has been married fifty years, the parent of a high school graduate, the college professor, your favorite author or artist, your parents –

Of all the advice you have received in your life, what is the best?

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Here’s 20 of my favorites:

  1. Don’t correct others when it matters little.
  2. Focus on building strengths, not developing weaknesses.
  3. Don’t ask for feedback if you aren’t going to listen to it.
  4. You can do anything you set your mind to do.
  5. Listen more than you speak.
  6. Take time to get to know others.
  7. Your actions speak louder than words.
  8. Networking is about giving to others.
  9. Don’t care more about someone’s problem than they do.
  10. Pride comes before a fall.
  11. All glory is fleeting.
  12. Multi-tasking is nothing more than doing several things at once badly.  Focus on one thing at a time.
  13. Measure twice, cut once.
  14. You’ll shoot your eye out.
  15. Marry for love, not money.
  16. If you learn from your mistakes, they are not mistakes.
  17. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.
  18. This too shall pass.
  19. When in doubt, don’t.
  20. Before you press send, be sure.

 How about you?  What is the best ever advice you have received? How has it helped you?  Want more? Read 101 bits from the world’s famous people.

ALWAYS HEED WARNINGS!

ALWAYS HEED WARNINGS!