Where are Your Manners?

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.

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.


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.


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

shoot your eye

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?


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.



4 Ways to be Nice and the Power of Smiles: This Will Change Your Day

P1050199You’re groggy as you stumble out of bed, off to the shower with hopes the spray will jolt you awake. Still tired you beeline to the coffee. It’s no straight path – like a marine in basic training you dodge laundry piles, hungry children, scattered Legos, whining bladder full dog that no one thought to take out, and a spouse yelling for clean socks and

where are my car keys?


Is it that hard to be nice?  It makes you feel good and the receiver of your niceness feel even better.  Yeah, I know it’s not so easy first thing in the morning. No matter what you are bombarded with, even if you are tired, feeling cross, and the devil on your shoulder is goading you to be mean:

simpsonDo it! Say what you’re really thinking. C’mon throw the toys out. Yell!

Why should your day start like this? Tell everyone they’re poopy-heads. You’ll feel better, Then storm off and get your coffee. Why be nice? Who’s being nice to you?

Stop. Think. Nice. Don’t listen to the lies. If you react to the chaos around you, you become the chaos.  You won’t feel better, you will feel defeated, regret, and now you are the horrid one.  Just because someone else is having a bad day doesn’t mean you have to.

Whatever your situation or whoever is in your face daring you to not be nice, rise above it and start with these four simple yet powerful steps to niceness.

  • Watch your body language. Don’t roll your eyes, or cross your arms.  You want your body to show you are calm and willing to help. Take a breath, or two. and then…
  • Answer gently. Resist the urge to lecture. Don’t talk back. Don’t mock. Count to ten before you reply. See the other person and realize he has pain inside, he needs understanding, grace, tenderness. Wise words: A gentle answer turns away wrath.
  • Help.  Ask what you can do for the person who is having a hard time. Open doors, buy someone a coffee, carry a bag, save a seat, leave a tip. Use your manners.
  • Smile (Kindle single/TED).  A lot. Peace begins with a smile – Mother Teresa

And when you get in your car and start your drive to work or to an appointment, don’t let the road creeps ruin your day.  So that guy didn’t use his blinker, or pulled out in front of you and forgot how to use the gas pedal to get up to speed.

Someone is bound to get mad at you for nothing. Forget about it. Keep consideration close.

Your niceness could change someone’s life. You may never know how your kindness affects another person.  No matter if you are a rock star, CEO, parent, child, author, barista, babysitter…go out of your way to be nice.


Project 86 with my son Benny. Rock stars who love their fans!

We all can be good at being nice. Just start doing it, and it will become habit.  And like a virus, it will spread to those around you.

What are your thoughts? Share them with me.


Never Hire This Guy to Do Your Yard Work


Three things I hate to do: ironing, painting, and weeding. Ironing: solved. I buy wrinkle-free no fuss clothes.

Painting: taken care of. My husband loves to do it and agrees that I should stay away from a paint brush.  My hatred for the task is blatant. I leave unsightly drip marks, missed spots, and I ruin brushes by dipping them too far in the paint can.  He’s fired me from painting and it’s fine with me.  I thank Shel Silverstein for his help in getting me out of that chore.

If you have to dry the dishes 
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore

I got out of weeding for a long while because my mom liked to do it.  Pull this, whack that, trim here, get every green thing out till all that is left is thinned out perennials and black dirt. She considered weeding an extreme sport and went off the deep end with what should be plucked and what should not.  We had no choice but to let her go as chief gardener.  We’ve given her sock sorting instead.  It’s ok that I have to do them over after she leaves.  Sorting for a ten feet family can be tricky.

Weeding is now my headache.  Either I suck it up and do it, or I allow the vegetation to creep over my beautiful stone pathways,


crawl up my siding, and choke to death my lilies, roses, and various other flowers the owners before me lovingly planted and nurtured.

Ribbet collage

My yard is too big for me to handle, so I hired this guy. He said he’d work for chicken.


Huge mistake. This is his idea of pulling up weeds:


He gets an A for enthusiasm, stamina, and he’s freakin’ adorable, but his technique was slipshod, messy. All I asked was for a little help pulling up some weeds, and he goes berserker on me. Dirt flying willy nilly, ripping through roots with his teeth, digging down deep all while making this high pitched ear piercing sound.



I’ve learned my lesson.  If you want a job done right, don’t hire your mom or your dog. Hire a professional.

After receiving his chicken wages and a long overdue bath, he settles in for a well earned nap. Take another look at my first picture. Can you spy Frodo doing his “yard” work?

P1150011How about you, have you regretted hiring a non-professional?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments….

5 Sure Signs of an Egomaniac: It’s All About Selfie

Big EgoWhy do some people have such huge egos? You see it all the time in celebrities, the fifteen-minute famers, the co-worker who takes credit for everything (even your ideas), and the friend who is just too into herself. Does she really think I want to see yet one more selfie?

Here’s the thing, a big ego is seriously stupid and even dangerous.


5 Sure Signs of an Ego-maniac:

  • You bask in recognition and live for the cheers of your audience. You crave the limelight.
  • You think you know everything and and never admit mistakes, never apologize.
  • You take credit for other people’s ideas and work.
  • Your business card or signature list every degree, credential, or certification you have achieved and then some.
  • Conversations are one sided: all you talk about is you. You have no interest in learning about others.


You, You, You, You. You are the center of the universe.

How long can an ego run rampant before it destroys relationships, careers, businesses, or kills someone? Here’s the fix: quit feeding the maniac’s ego.  Just like a toddler’s temper tantrum, if you ignore it, it will eventually stop.

Whether superstar, nobel prize winner, or the guy sitting next to you on the plane, we are all the same inside, and trust me, I have seen plenty of people’s insides. We are guts, blood, waste, bone, and skin. We have a brain, a soul, and a personality.  We all have unique talents, feelings, dreams, and fears.

My guess is the egomaniacs aren’t reading this.  But, if you are on the precipice of egomania land, do an about face and start moving as fast as you can.  Life is way too short to be lived for selfie.

P1100285Pop the overinflated ego balloon and come back down to earth. Life is richer and the air is cleaner.

A healthy ego is good, but keep it in check. Too much and it gets to be like dust in the eyes – you can’t see anything until you clear it away.

Hawaiian Tropic, Donny Osmond, and Tanning Beds


Back in the day, I was a sun goddess.  Brown was cool and fish belly white was not.  My teenage summers were a blend of sleeping in, bumming around, swimming, and sunbathing. I’d start at Ten a.m. Dressed in my bikini – hard to fathom but at fifteen I was 5 ft 9 and 125 pounds.

Me and JeanI’m still 5ft 9.  Ok, back to the story.

Dressed in my bikini, I’d grease myself with Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil, Turn the Radio on LOUD as living out in the country the only potential complainers would be the cows. And I would lay in the sun and bake.  Turn every thirty minutes, peel back the bikini bottom for a peek to assure good color, and call it a day before 2 o’clock.

Ah, the life of a 70′s teen.

no computers

So now I wait.  When’s the Basal Cell coming?  Is that mole a Squamous cell? Crap! I think I have Actinic Keratosis.  I’m DOOMED, I’ve established the foundation for skin cancer and all I can do is watch and wait.

And use sunscreen.

I can’t do anything to change what I did when I was young and stupid, but now that I know better, I do better.  According to The American Cancer Society, 

Most skin cancers are probably caused by exposures that happened many years earlier. The pattern of exposure may also be important. For example, frequent sunburns in childhood may increase the risk for basal cell cancer many years or even decades later.

The new bad boy on the block is tanning beds.  The tanning salons are everywhere, and the young, middle aged and even seniors are going on a regular basis for the relaxation and the joy of that golden bronze color. Sorry to be a bearer of bad news, but a new study confirms the indoor tan is a golden ticket to skin cancer.

The investigators found that indoor tanning was associated with developing skin cancer at an early age.


In May, the U.S. FDA announced that tanning beds and tanning booths MUST carry a visible warning stating that the devices should not be used by minors under age Eighteen.

So far so good: no skin cancer for me. Now,  I stay out of the sun, have at least two dozen bottles of excellent sunscreens scattered about for easy access for me and my family, and I think fish belly white is beautiful and Donny Osmond is still cute.

The Secret of Likability in 4 Simple Steps

Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you. Dale Carnegie

Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.
Dale Carnegie

We all want to be liked. Do you obsessively check the number of likes on a post or how many favs you got on a tweet? Hey, it’s cool, I do it too.  But not as much as I used to. I’ve learned the secret of likability, and it starts by shifting my focus from me to you.

Dale Carnegie

#1 Eyes Off Self:  If you want people to like you, or maybe the better way to phrase it is if you want to have genuinely successful people encounters, then ditch your ego, bag the bragging, and give your undivided attention to the person before you. People long to be heard. To have someone take an interest in you, to want to know you, what your interests are, where you’ve traveled, what you like and don’t like, what makes you happy. It’s wonderful to be noticed. You don’t have to be witty.  No need to try to solve problems.  Simply show you are really interested.

#2 Talk From the Same Level:  If he is sitting, you sit.  Make eye contact, keep your arms uncrossed, listen intently.  A light, casual touch on a shoulder. Greet warmly with a hearty handshake, take a step towards the person. He should get the sense that the world has stopped and at that moment you want nothing more than to hear and understand what he is saying.

See eye to eye.

See eye to eye.

#3 Talk at the Same Level:  Don’t use jargon or fustian vocabulary.   Save that for your blog posts.

fustianAnd, say their name.  If you forgot it, admit it and ask for it again. If you suck at this, I am serious, work on it. Learn how to remember names, and you will blow minds - your likability gauge will break glass!

Say my name.

Say my name.

#4 Smile and Sincerity:  No fake cheesy smiles.  Give the smile that says I’m glad to see you, I like you, and I am here for you. Then be there for them.  Do they need a job lead, an introduction, or some wisdom? An invitation to a professional seminar, or a networking event? Maybe even a book recommendation, one that taught you something so phenomenal it would be a sin to keep it to yourself?

It’s not that hard to be liked.  The more you follow these principles the better you’ll get at boosting your likability, and ultimately making yourself happier in the process.

How about you, what’s your secret to likability?