Make A Difference! I Double-Dog Dare You!

Saturday has been the only day of the week that I’ve been able to walk a full 5K, and the last few I have picked up garbage, not just litter, GARBAGE!

The first time was because I picked up an empty Pringles can someone dropped on our Greenway walking path and continued to pick up anything along the way that didn’t require me to wear gloves or to slow down. My husband said, “You’re so amazing, Baby! Please don’t get hurt.”

The next round I took along two plastic grocery sacks and stopped to talk to the manager at the neighborhood Sonic Drive-In about her store, being a part of our neighborhood and frequented by pedestrian youth, helping out by considering a once-a-month employee clean-up. She looked at me as if I was crazy. My husband said, “You never cease to amaze me, Baby! Please wear gloves next time.”

Today, I upgraded to a Hefty Tall Kitchen trash bag (sorry, Babe…couldn’t find where the gloves are…adding to the grocery list). I’m considering taking my pictures around to the neighborhood mom and pops and seeing if they have any interest in helping keep our neighborhood and our Earth clean.

By the way, a full trash sack makes for an amazing arm workout. Cars passing honked. One bike rider said, “You go!” Yes, I do indeed.

All garbage picked up has to arrive in the bag with my right hand, keeping my left clean to wipe sweat out of my eyes and open my water bottle. I reverse my path the next go ’round for all the left-side trash. No, I don’t do doggie poo, not even for the you-know-what who left the baggie tied up on the park bench. I don’t handle car parts either. Although today, I picked up the City of Plano’s landscaping crew’s broken grass catcher attachment thingy. That’s just ridiculous! It’s broken! Don’t leave it in the freshly mown grass. You tell on yourself!

I need to save up and get a tracker. I’m pretty sure with all my veering from the path to beautify my city, I have to have walked more than 5K. What are you doing to better your world?

Adult Learning: Not a Far Cry From Middle School

Adult learning principles:

  • Self-directed and autonomous
  • Use life experiences and previous knowledge
  • Goal-oriented
  • Relevant
  • Highlights practicality (real-world)
  • Encourages collaboration

Recently, I was caught in the break area by a co-worker who was hotter than a displaced hornet. He was irate because he had posed a question during an instructor-led class and was “cut off” and told to hold his questions till the end. Not that tragic of an occurrence except that he was the only one singled out while others proceeded to ask questions as they hit them, with no admonishment.

After a quick pep talk and some next steps for him, we bantered about my musing that adult classroom management wasn’t that different from the skills used in my former middle school classrooms. I had asked him why he was upset by this incident and why it was important to him to be able to ask his question. His response was that he not only felt singled out but also that he asked a question that would ultimately be relevant to his clients.

We talked further about his feeling of being singled out, and it was as if i was sitting in the teacher’s lounge listening to the science teacher lament about “Johnny’s” behavior in her class. Ms. Science was describing a student with whom I had absolutely zero challenges, and I was stunned. After some probing, yet non-accusatory questions, I learned that in Science, Johnny was made to sit at a table by himself because he talked too much. He was singled out by name if he asked a question or seemed to challenge the lesson. And, lord forbid if he answered a question incorrectly! In summary, he was embarrassed by his teacher. We are human. It happens.

Furthermore, just because we are fully formed adults (for the most part), it does not mean we are immune to feeling embarrassed when called out or criticized in a group setting. I keep playing in my head how to handle today’s situation and can think of a multitude of other ways to handle it. However, I was not there and cannot speak fully to reality.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Set the expectation at the beginning to jot down questions for the interactive Q&A session reserved for the last 30 minutes of class. Part 2 of this is to hold everyone accountable to the same expectations.
  • Provide a parking lot (NOTE TO SELF–research using Webex to gather questions during the lecture).
  • Anticipate where questions might arise and factor in time to ask as you go; this is a good idea for chunking lengthy content as well.

What methods have you used for handling questions in adult learning environments?

Don’t Be Scared to Change

A new catch phrase be-bopping around is “job hopping”, which screams negative to me. I see my colorful experiences as not being afraid to take that chance and be present for the amazing opportunities before me.

Nearing graduation from the University of North Texas in 1997, I understood that until I had a full-time public relations position, I was going to be one of my generation who would need to live with my family.  Not being someone who could just rest on my degree and wait it out on my parents’ good graces, I wrote to the editor of my hometown newspaper and secured a summer reporting internship. He hired me without an interview based on my writing samples.

By the end of the summer, I was offered a communications coordinator position with a financial company. They were impressed by my HTML and web skills as they pertained to writing for the web, a relatively new endeavor in the corporate communications world.

Within two years, it was made clear to me that in order to advance, I would need a master’s degree. I worked as a desktop publisher while securing my placement with UNT. My almamater also wanted me to work as a teaching fellow, first in the news reporting lab and then in the computers for journalists lab.

After my first year of graduate school, UNT’s Office of Public Affairs hired me to write for the school’s website and alumni magazine. This was the door to my next adventure. The director at UNT was taking the director position at another university in Hoboken, NJ, and she wanted to take me along as her Assistant Director because of the work I had done at UNT

After a little less than a year, this experience had opened my eyes to the fact that I was not ready to live in a whole new, big city world. I recognized this and sought to move back to Texas. This move would also show me something about myself. Having always been a people-pleaser, I surprised myself when I told my employer I had an ethical problem with a certain practice of theirs. Their response was to let me go. However, not one to give up, I secured part-time work as a hostess that same day.

For two months I made ends meet while searching for a new position and was well rewarded when a tech company hired me to hone my writing and website skills as a copywriter and website designer. While with the company, my innate ability to test their software and hone their procedures led to me creating a domain transfer team.

I lead this team for two years until the company sent an email requesting volunteers for a reduction in force.  The compensation allowed for me to try something new, something I had always wondered about–teaching. I obtained my alternative teaching certificate, and by August, was set to teach English Language Arts.

For the next five years, I taught ELA and then special education. It was at the beginning of my sixth year that I had to take a medical leave of absence from teaching. Still not one to be without work, I was blessed that a friend knew of a construction company that needed my skills in communication and marketing. This company and their owners were a blessing in a difficult time, allowing me to take care of my medical needs while still earning an income.

After a couple of years, I returned to teaching. I thought this was where I was to be until retirement. However in 2015, my former tech employer was seeking someone to be a curriculum writer and trainer, taking all of my experience and folding it into where I am now.

When I’m asked about my “job hopping”, I used to wonder how to word it and worried about how my trek through my career looks to others.   Now that I’ve written it out, I see it as a benefit because I’m not afraid to take advantage of the opportunities before me. Each opportunity provided a wealth of knowledge about myself as well as the communications field. I might have skipped a scene or two in this story, but what life lesson would I have missed?

To Swear or NOT to Swear

I cannot tell you how often I have seen the post about People Who Curse on Facebook. I have never actually followed the link and read the article. However, it stuck with me enough that I googled “Cursing” and “Research” before starting this post. Wowzers! The blog articles are numerous as are the actual legitimate research reports.

Why, Jaimee! Are you planning to entertain us with your vivid and vast “cussin'” repertoire?  Are you preparing us for a vivid view into your verbal naughtiness?

No way! My mama still lives and breathes and has no time limit on her reach with a switch and a bar of soap.  (Not, really! However, I do respect her enough not to test her or embarrass her or my father.)

No, my last three book choices all have curse words in the titles. I was drawn to all three of them because only their titles spoke to me.

  • Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F!@#!
  • Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F!@#!
  • Sarah Knight’s Get Your Sh!t Together

I would say a drinking game is in the works for every curse word that is written in these works of literature, but that would be irresponsible and deadly. Mrs. Knight has a whole chapter where every sentence is the full on “Fudge Cookies” of my own vocabulary. Like she wrote in her latest work, if you are expecting kittens and cuddles, you are in the wrong place.

Nevertheless, what I like about all three of these books is that they all have some basic principles: figure out your core values and let the rest go. Simple. To the point. Ensconced in vulgarity. I love, love, love it!

I need to work on my Fudge Cookie Budget…what I really care about and what can take a hike. If you only had so many Cookies to give, where would they go? So each day, I say I will get riled by no more than one challenge to my sensibilities. Therefore, I spend my  ONE Cookie only on what really matters to me. I find myself asking, “Is that worth spending your Cookie?” It’s really quite interesting that some days, I don’t give my Cookie to anything or anyone.  <gasp!>

Some background:

  • I once read that the one thing all millionaires have in common is that they read at least one non-fiction book each month.
  • I am a self-help book junkie even if I don’t always agree or act upon said advice. I like biographies too.
  • I care passionately about my work and whatever else to which I put my energy.
  • My Emergenetics and other personality profiles all say the same thing: I care and it matters.
  • I get overwhelmed by negativity.
  • It angers me to no end for people to say, “Don’t take it personally.” If I put my all into doing a bang-up job, then I take it personally. Cookie taker right there! Every stinkin’ time.

What Cookie will you keep for yourself and not give away?

Interesting Reads about swearing :

  • https://www.sciencealert.com/swearing-is-a-sign-of-more-intelligence-not-less-say-scientists
  • https://campuspress.yale.edu/yrurp/files/2016/05/Giordano-rg5y5r.pdf
  • http://time.com/4602680/profanity-research-why-we-swear/

Product Review: Curlformers by Hairflair

“Girl, your hairdresser must love you! You are always doing something different with your hair,” my enthusiastically kind co-worker exclaimed when she saw my latest and greatest look of shiny, auburn-colored curls.

Why, yes! My hairdresser and long-time friend Meredith does love me. It is for all the reasons I am who I am, but she does love that I have no fear when it comes to hair. As a kid, MyMama didn’t try to tell me how to wear my hair only insisting it be clean and combed/brushed. My personal philosophy as a parent was the same.

“It’s just hair; it’ll grow back. There are bigger fish to fry like with whom your child is hanging out or if she eats healthy,” I always tell my friends.

Back on track! Meredith does Monday Morning Hair Talk with Meredith, and I was super excited when she reviewed Curformers by Hairflair. In fact, I went to Amazon ($58.95) and purchased my set before her demonstration on Facebook Live had finished. Mer recommended getting the set for longer hair even though she and I have about chin-length hair.

Curlformers are made of “hair-friendly”, plastic mesh permanently formed into spirals, both clockwise and counterclockwise. You will begin by inserting the provided hooked wand into the end of the Curlformer, unfurling the spiral as it slides easily onto the wand. Once the hooked end of the wand emerges, you will insert your damp lock into the eye of the hook. Gently pull the wand back through the sleeve and let go. The Curlformer will spring into place. Allow your hair to set till dry, which is usually overnight.

Now I  have to say the directions in the kit are not as clear as they could be, but with Mer’s demonstration, I was able to quickly section my hair and pull them through the curlers using the provided hook. HINT: Gently click the hook end and handle end together. To disassemble after use, pinch the connection point and gently wiggle the ends apart.

The first time I used Curlformers, I think I had the curler too close to my scalp having pushed the curler all the way to the root before removing the wand. The easiest correction for this was to gently straighten the curler and scooch it out a little (Thank you, Husband Friend!).

 

I did the overnight set method, allowing the Curlformers to flare out on my pillow. Because I have an undercut with no hair on the sides of my head, sleeping was not a bit uncomfortable for me. Husband Friend said that getting smacked in the face with the springy contraptions when I turned in my sleep, however, was not his idea of a good night’s rest.

To remove the Curlformers, you will unfurl the curler and slip it from the hair strand. I then run my fingers through the mass of curls, applying whatever product I choose that day. When I only use “shiny” serum, the curls continue to loosen throughout the day, becoming waves by the evening. However, when I sprayed them with hairspray, the curls remained springy and tight all day with very little fallout. I think these results will depend on the person’s natural hair tendencies and has zero to do with Curlformers.

I love the look of the natural-looking curls. Curlformers are, without a doubt, the best hair curling products I have ever purchased. They are also more expensive but well worth it. I use mine almost every night. I have perfected the application and can get them all in place in about five minutes (REMEMBER, I have only the hair on top of my head with which to contend!).

It’s almost as easy to get ready in the morning as it was the time I shaved my head. I told you…it’s hair. It will grow back. Let me know if you purchase Curlformers and how you like them. I would love to read your review as well.

What Writer’s Block Can Teach You About Writing

Given this lovely graphic, I think it is not hyperbolic to say there are almost nine million resources for anyone stricken with writer’s block.
Let me share the top five takeaways that I gleaned from the first 5 returned articles. It is cliché-city…you are forewarned.

Use It or Lost It

If you are like me and have taken time off from personal writing because you write all the time at work, you may have hit this hurdle on only your personal endeavors. This seems to be my ailment.

For work, I can draft any procedure and create any training documentation that is required without too much trauma. That’s because I am basically writing what I am doing. It’s more reporting than writing. When I want to write for “fun,” the story changes, and I can’t even figure out where to begin.

“All of the prolific writers I know scoff at the idea of writer’s block. They don’t have time for it, they say. They’re too busy writing and keeping the flow happening,” writes Kevin Kaiser in his 2016 article “4 Lessons Running Can Teach You About Writing.”

Just like at the gym, if all you do is yoga, then when you want to run, you won’t have the stamina. If all I write is technical in nature, then my creative muscle withers away. Kaiser’s article is worth a look because he takes a topic done millions of times and compares it beautifully to running, which is quite entertaining.

Just Do It

You cannot call yourself a writer if you aren’t writing. Thank you, Captain Obvious. No, really…that’s the step that everyone of those articles shares. You will only beat the monster hold up if you sit down and write.

Richard Kadrey provides the next wisdom in his June 2017 Fast Company article, “By writing at every opportunity that presents itself, even the lousiest authors can sharpen their skill until their prose becomes serviceable, or if they’re lucky, a pleasurable read.”

Writing at every opportunity seems like a lofty goal, but it is doable. Just think about that smart phone where you tick out 140-character missives multiple times a day. That’s writing too!

I used to teach my students to play the “Why Game.” You write your first sentence, “I do not know what to write about.” Yes, it should be “I do not know about what to write.” They were middle school kiddos who took great pleasure in saying my sentence looked “funny” and sounded “funnier” {more funny] when read out loud. Since this was my number one suggestion for them, listen to your own ear (voice), I had to adhere to their suggestions. The writing went as such:

I do not know what to write about a time when I had to work for something I really wanted. Why? I am too tired to think. Why? I stayed up playing my new video game last night? Why? I wanted to master the game? Why? It would make me feel like I had worked really hard and been successful.

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner. Is it a pulitzer winner? No, she was in 7th grade. However, it did make her feel like a successful writer that day, AND she was writing, which was the assignment. Who knows where she will be in the future. She didn’t hate writing that day. Maybe that made me the winner too.

Know When To Walk Away, Know When to Hold’em

You may need a vacation from your passion project. You may need that absence to make the heart grow fonder. Or you may need to sit down and stop finding a million other distractions. Whichever way you are going, do the opposite. If all you do is get sidetracked, then make yourself sit and write. If all you do is write, but it’s not good, walk away (but come back later…don’t quit…don’t ever quit).

I like all of the ideas Laura Giovanelli provides in her Washington Post article “On Being a Writing Teacher Struggling with Writer’s Block.”

  • Writing with the monitor off/writing with a white font (laptop)
  • Writing with [gasp] paper and pen
  • Go for a walk/run/workout

Get Out of There!

With the proliferation of free wi-fi, this next suggestion is easier today than any other time. Take your writing from your “usual spot” and go somewhere new.

“Seven Steps for Overcoming Writer’s Block” by Dave Baker actually says this in three different ways. Get away from your desk, take your work elsewhere, and work on another project.  Ultimately they all suggest the same thing. Try something new.

At this point, I just heard my mother in my head: “If you always do what you’ve always done and expect to get a different outcome, you are practicing insanity.” Thanks, Mama. I hear you.

Whatever you are doing (or not doing), try something new today. Let me know how it went. Best of luck!

 

Use It Or Lose It

If you took the time to list your skills and talents, would it contain a handful or a basketful? I think mine falls in the latter category from my natural curiosity and love of learning. What about those skills or talents that you have forgotten? Would your list grow exponentially or only by a “smidge”?

Today, I have updated this blog, changing its name and theme. I have reacquainted myself with WordPress, something that fell aside as I have been focused on the software that my company markets. I am also committing to writing at least three times each week.

To what will you re-commit?

 

Day 21: Just Do It June–Cartwheels

 

School Pictures | Every Day Active Challenge
Always obese, I only wanted to be like every other little girl on the playground.

As a child, I was over weight. By today’s standards, I was most likely obese even then. That didn’t stop me from wanting to be like all of the other little girls. I wanted to run without end and do cartwheels around the playground.

I did one cartwheel around the time this picture was taken and landed so hard and wrong that I couldn’t walk the next day. That may be owing to me trying to impress the other girls with a back bend and front walk-over to boot. My body just couldn’t do it. So I gave up even trying.

This was also the year that I made my first “bad grade” when I barely passed PE with a 70. This was the year that the coaches graded us on a sliding scale of how many sit-ups and push-ups we could do (3 and 1, respectively). There was also the requirement to run one mile in 10 minutes (last one on the field at the end of PE being laughed at by my peers). This was also the year the coach called out my weight (150 pounds) in front of those peers. That was a rough year for a nine-year-old.

I have had rougher years, and I have had better years. This one is one of those better years full of successes of which I only ever dreamed.

For example, today after my hour on the treadmill for #JustDoItJune and the #EveryDayActiveChallenge, I asked my Darling Daughter to video me doing a cartwheel.

She asked, “Have you ever done a cartwheel?”

“Not that I can claim was any good,” I replied. “But I watched some youTube videos. Let me practice first.”

Then I just did it.

Now, I spent the usual five minutes criticizing my gym hair (#GymHairDontCare) and thinking about how loose the skin is everywhere, and then I shut that crap down! YOU FREAKING DID A CARTWHEEL AND IT DIDN’T HURT! I think I will try a hand/headstand next.

What was your victory today?

Day 20: Just Do It June–Vacation from Work not Workout

It may have been 14 days since my last blog but not since my last activity. If you’re following on Facebook, then you know that, aside from two days of migraines that kept me in bed this past weekend, I have kept up with the #EveryDayActiveChallenge in #JustDoItJune.

I cannot express how monumental that is! For 18 of the last 20 days, I have completed one to two hours of physical activity! The most I had done before this endeavor, or experiment in fortitude, was three days in a row.

Then the little devil on the right would mentally appease my guilty conscience with platitudes of, “You can take a break. You did three days. Take a week off.”

I kicked that wee evil voice out at 30,000 feet on my way to Hawaii. I was making a list of all the fun that I had always wanted to do when the niggling whine began.

“You know you aren’t going to actually do all of this, right?” She whispered. “You will never last! You will find a way to get out of it, and that is alright, darling. Vacation is time off from life.”

No, I proved, it is not! Our Hawaiian vacation turned out to be the springboard to the launch pad that I have been seeking. I discovered the following about myself on vacation:

  1. I refuse to pay $10 a day for a gym that is listed in the amenities for the hotel. It’s not cheap; it’s the principle! There are more fun ways to spend the time, even walking around in the heat is beautiful if you’re chasing rainbows!
  2. Yoga on the beach sounds like a romantic notion but is quite messy. I don’t like being dirty was the discovery there and that near the beach on the grassy hill will work for ambiance.

    William Wisdom About Fear | Every Day Active Challenge
    #DontLetFearHoldYouBack
  3. Five year old wisdom is priceless. My nephew’s comment fortified me to go parasailing, something I had always wanted to do and something from which I was close to walking away. I learned I can swallow my fear to experience something new (proof is trapped in the GoPro).
  4. I found that I am thankful to my trainer for all of the upper body workouts! That Wahoo fish took every ounce of strength to reel into the boat while we were deep sea fishing.

    Deep Sea Fishing | Every Day Active Challenge
    WAHOO! I caught this gal with a cheering crowd encouraging me not to give up while my arms felt the burn of effort!
  5. Although it felt like my brain was trying to exit via my ear, I also learned that I am able to dive down while snorkeling and not just placidly float on the surface, hoping fish will swim by my fear-stricken, no-swimming self (the GoPro and I have an appointment after I publish this).
  6. Body surfing is dangerous and requires a lot of stamina to tread water waiting for the wave that wants to pin you to the sea floor and hold you there! Also, bathing suits come off in tumultuous waves entirely too easy! We survived and decided we needed lessons so we didn’t die. That will have to wait till next time.

    Body Surfing | Every Day Active Challenge
    Darling Daughter taught her old lady to body surf.
  7. ATV riding takes a lot of core strength not to be slung around, and I really don’t like being dirty. Really! Sweaty, okay…dirty, no way. Poet. Know it.
  8. I fit on a water slide! Also, much like a kid with a new toy couldn’t wait to do it again and again.
  9. I like hiking! Also, I cry like a baby, snotty nose and everything, when I have a non-scale victory like hiking up and down a mountain to witness one of mother nature’s amazing features…a blow hole.

    Hiking | Every Day Active Challenge
    You cannot tell clearly, but the background is way far below me in this pick.

Speaking of…I will end this here and go get un-sweaty after tonight’s treadmill and yoga routine. Wait…I need to go help with the yard work. Durnit! That is dirty. Yuck!

What about you? Did you do something amazing today?

Day 6: Just Do It June–Liquid Life

Drink Water | Every Day Active Challenge
Drink water to wash your insides and give balance to your body.

Water! The majority of the planet and the majority of your body are made up of water. You should be drinking double your weight in ounces each day. Or is it 8 glasses each day? You know…I have heard it all.

Water loss happens constantly throughout your day (think of all those body functions that are too gross for me to mention). You have to intake as much as you lose to be healthy.

Since we are participating in the #EveryDayActiveChallenge for #JustDoItJune, you should also know that your muscles need the fluid to avoid muscle fatigue. When the cells don’t have water, they shrivel.

Aunt J-Me….water is boring. I don’t like the way it tastes. It’s such a chore to drink water. Can I have tea? It’s made of water. So is pop/cola/soda/coke (if you’re from the south, it’s all coke. “You want a coke? What kind?”).

The line that has stuck with me since my first round of Weight Watchers at age 7 was, “Tea doesn’t count. You wouldn’t wash your stockings in tea would you? Or your favorite white blouse?”

Think of it that way. The water is washing your insides. You know what is on the inside? Yuck! You cannot run those organs through the dishwasher and then put them back to work. Therefore, just tell yourself it is like bathing…you do it every day (or you should).

Your personal brand is just as important as a company's. This is where I teach myself about this Brand New World.