Monday, August 24, 2015
I enjoy quotes. Often in emails to students I will sign off with a motivational quote to help them in their life journey. An uplifting quote can aid in perking up a difficult day or be an encouragement with struggles you may be facing. There are numerous quote websites you can go to search for quotes with many of the sites listing the quote on a creative background. There are also books of quotes you can purchase and one that I have in my library is a book of heartfelt thoughts – Thoughts Spoken From The Heart: Over 500 Thoughts That Bring Meaning To Your Life written by Lolly Daskal. These are not quotes from various people rather these are meaningful thoughts from her heart.
I came across Lolly Daskal’s writings by happenstance of noticing her topics coming across my Twitter feed. She does writing for Inc.com, Fast Company and Psychology Today. She is founder of Lead from Within, a global leadership, executive coaching, and consulting firm based in New York City and has over 30 years of experience. Her website is http://www.lollydaskal.com where you can check out some of her articles.
I would like to share with you samples of her quotes from her book that stood out to me.
“Instead of waiting for confidence, act as if the change you desire has already taken place.” This one stood out to me, as it reminds me of Dr. Alfred Adler, the famous philosopher and psychiatrist, who used the “as if” technique in therapy. If a client wanted to be more confident what would that look like? He would encourage them to go out and act like they were confident even though at the moment they did not feel like they were confident.
“Passion is the secret to many success stories.” This thought by Lolly Daskal reminds me of the many books I have read over the years of successful people. When you study the lives of those successful be it in business or the arts they have an underlying passion in their life that they follow. It makes me think what am I passionate about?
“Self-confidence is not about the impression you give to other people, but who you are on the inside.” Recently I saw a t shirt that read “I’m Different”. We are each uniquely created people with our own talents and strengths. Our self-confidence needs to come from a healthy pride in knowing who we are and accepting of ourselves. Granted I add we need to continually grow to improve but be proud of your unique God given strengths.
“Never compare yourself to someone else. You never really know their life behind closed doors.” It is so easy to compare our lives to others and think that the grass must be greener in their pasture. It is best to compare your life with how you want to improve by looking at yourself in the mirror instead of trying to be like someone else. It is possible the person you think is so together is looking back at you wishing they had your life.
“Make your values your guiding star for life.” This quote reminds me of how ancient mariners would often use the stars to guide their ships. What are the stars you use to guide your life? Lolly so rightly brings up in this quote the importance of having solid values to guide our lives. As I have mentioned in the past we each look at life from a world view and mine is the Christian worldview. So the basis of my values are principles found in The Bible and in trying to follow the life of Christ as much as possible. We each need to think through what values are guiding our lives.
I hope in sharing a small sample of the quotes in Lolly Daskal’s book that will encourage you to seek our quotes in your life. Some quote websites will even send quotes to your phone daily. Do stop by her website listed about and check out some of her articles she has posted.
Reflection: Which of the 5 quotes from Lolly Daskal spoke to you the most? What is one of your favorite quotes? Do a search on quote websites and choose a thoughtful quote for your day.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
This past weekend I was at a training day for my work as an adjunct professor at a local college. The main speaker and one other session I attended lamented the struggle of getting college students up to the challenge of reading for their classes. This reminded me of the “surprising book facts” graphic shown above that a friend recently had posted on Facebook. The stats on reading were concerning to me as someone who loves reading and promotes reading to students. There was no source listed so I wonder if some of the stats may be too high but sad to say from other reports I have read on reading in America I don’t think they are too off.
How do we get the message out that “reading matters”? I would like to share some thoughts from a small book by David Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading. It is based on an essay he wrote for the LA Times on August 9, 2009. The books seems to be a response to a young family member saying to him that “reading is over”. In our modern culture of less and less reading being done, it is easy to feel that reading is over. That is where I feel it is important for those who love books and know the importance of reading to promote the importance of reading and that it makes a difference.
Ulin shares how he grew up in a house full of books so he was aware of books from a young age. I like what he states about what drew him to reading, “ their nearly magical power to transport us to other landscapes , other lives.” (page 10). That is one element I remember of books I read in Summer reading programs as a child. From my small town in Ohio I was able to learn of diverse other places and peoples in the world. He shares how reading impacted other writers as well. He lists a long quote about reading from a writer Frank Conroy’s memoir , “Safe in my room with milk and cookies I disappeared into inner space. The real world dissolved and I was free to drift into fantasy, living a thousand lives, each one more powerful, more accessible, and more real than my own.” (page 12) I response to that Ulin states, “…you get a whisper of the power of books to change us to alter our emotional DNA. The key is to think about reading as a journey of discovery, and excavation of the inner world.” The idea of inner space relates well to my early reading experiences. I felt like I was in a different world.
Other important points about reading he brings out is “Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being… This is what Conroy was getting at, the way books enlarge us by giving direct access to experiences not our own.” (page16). This thought relates to deep mindful reading which is truly an act of contemplation. That is what is so relaxing about reading and yet it is building up our minds and imaginations.
This strengthening of the mind is weakened by the modern habit of surfing the internet. Ulin describes research that discusses how high tech Web surfing impedes comprehension and concentration. He quotes a section from Carr in The Shallows where a UCLA researcher describes the results of studies on those who surf the net : “That ‘our growing use of the Net and other screen based technologies,’ has undermined “our capacity for the kind of deep processing that underpins mindful knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination, and reflection.” (page 133). To me that describes our dumbed down population lacking in critical thinking which I mention in my Critical Thinking chapter of my book, Living More Than OK. All those good mind qualities mentioned can be strengthened by committing to the habit of reading. Think over the final statement in the “surprising book facts” I posted at the top of this post. Just reading 1 hour a day for 7 years in a subject can make you an expert. One hour doesn’t seem like much but multiply it out 7 times 365 days a year and you have 2,555 hours of reading. Also consider the graphic below about students doing reading 20 minutes a day which I felt was an eye-opener. Clearly it can be seen that reading matters!
Near the end of the book is an important thought that booklovers need to reflect on in promoting reading. “Lately, I’ve begun to think of this as the touchstone of a quiet revolution… Reading , after all, is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction, a matter of engagement in a society that seems to want nothing more than for us to disengage. It connects us at the deepest levels; it is slow, rather than fast. That is its beauty and its challenge: in a culture of instant information, it requires us to pace ourselves…In the midst of a book, we have no choice but to be patient, to take each thing in its moment to let the narrative prevail.” (page 151). If we know reading matters we need to speak up and promote reading, support our local libraries, and local bookstores in our towns. Reading has enriched my life over the years and will continue to be one of my favorite natural highs that make life a living more than ok experience.
Reflection: Why does reading matter to you? What do you think of the thought that reading one hour a day for 7 years can make you an expert? How can you promote reading?
Monday, August 3, 2015
From time to time I have mentioned one struggle with working on my Ph.D. in psychology while balancing work and family. It is that my reading focuses in on my research and classes leaving little time for enjoyment reading. I do enjoy my research reading as most of it relates to Dr. Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory that I am passionate about. My problem is there are so many other books on other topics I would love to read but just do not have the time. That is where in my side reading of books about reading I found in the library a title, relevant and interesting to my present life. The book is So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading. It is written by Sara Nelson. I found out through Wikipedia that she is currently editorial director for Amazon books. She has a rich history in the book industry as a former editor of Publisher’s Weekly and editor for the book section of Oprah’s Magazine. She obviously is a person with a passion for books and reading.
Her book was a quick read for me that I could fit in between my studies and breaks between clients in my counseling practice. So Many Books, So Little Time is about her attempt to read a book a week over a span of a year. It reminded me of a professor I had when I was working on my Master of Divinity in the Chicago Area. He encouraged us to read a book a week outside of our studies. I liked the idea but with my work schedule and classes I hardly ever did it.
Sara Nelson’s book opened my mind to make a commitment to work on the books I have been missing during my doctoral work. After my dissertation is finished one of my main commitments will be to try to read a book a week for a year. Of course I still have some months before I can even start that stage but the important thing is that reading this book refocused my mind on looking forward to reading throughout a year. I easily have 50 books on my Dream Booklist.
The enjoyment in reading this book was that it wasn’t just a summary of the books she had read. Instead she brings the reader into her life throughout the year of balancing her professional life, her family life and her reading life. For a passionate reader there are tips on selecting books and insights into the publishing industry that add interest to the book.
One of many standout thoughts in the book came at page 84, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans, John Lennon once wrote. Put another way: Any writer who is honest will tell you that she usually comes up with her best lines or her important transitional paragraph not when she’s sitting in front of the computer, watching the clock, or using the word count mechanism in her word processing program, but when she is stepping into the shower, making dinner, or cleaning the cat litter. Getting lost in a book is the same way; try to force yourself to get engaged with something and you probably won’t. But take your time and have patience, and you’ll slide almost unknowingly into the right thing.” This reminded me of Dr. Krumboltz’s thoughts on happenstance. With reading it relates as well, to moving into flow in reading. It happens with the right material that the reader finds interesting and is challenged in reading through the material.
If you are a Bookhead who enjoys reading you may want to see if your local library has So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson. The book will encourage you in your love of reading and challenge you to keep reading a priority. She also shows that readers can have a life as well. They are not stuck in their favorite reading chair all the time 24/7.
Reflection: Some of the books Sara read were re-reading of books. Are there any particular books you have read in the past that you want to read over again? What are some books you would want to read if you made a passionate reading commitment for the next year?
Monday, July 27, 2015
With my college students I encourage them to read as it is important for their minds and their futures. I often am greeted by stares and replies that reading is boring. I believe that response is the result of years of mind numbing television that is passed off as entertaining. I try to emphasize to them what Dr. Ben Carson says about reading, “Reading activates and exercises the mind. Reading forces the mind to discriminate. From the beginning, readers have to recognize letters printed on the page, make them into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences into concepts. Reading pushes us to use our imagination and makes us more creatively inclined.” That quotes is from Dr. Ben Carson’s book, Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence. That quote and Dr. Carson’s life are examples of how reading is a foundational block to success.
In my recent reading about reading I came across thoughts from two books at my local library that encourages reading in young people. The first book is Born Reading, by Jason Boog. The subtitle is very important is this era where reading is becoming less and less of a passion. His subtitle is “Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between. For the sake of a brighter future of humanity we need more bookworms.
Jason shares a major impetus for writing the book was his desire to share his passion for reading with his daughter. In the introduction of the book he discusses a study “How to Make a Young Child Smarter” in a 2013 issue of Perspectives in Psychological Science that showed increases in a child’s IQ through interactive reading. The article stated the earlier the better. So much of the book discusses interactive reading. This shows the importance of parents taking time to read to their children. Then when the children begin to read have them join in by reading aloud to the parents. The interaction increases by using the reading time to discuss the story or material that is being read.
Over the years we have often used after dinner time to read through a book as a family. Often it was our daughter doing the reading or we would take turns reading sections of book we were working through at the time. As Jason emphasizes, our reading time would include questions afterwards or sharing what the reading was about. That increases the effectiveness of interactive reading.
Jason discusses electronic readers and mentions research and even thoughts from App designers that encourage limiting the use of electronic devices with young children. He mentions a quote from one librarian that mentions how tablets have become the new babysitters. I see this in children in therapy whose parents complain they only want to play games on tablets and not do anything else. Yet who is allowing the children to be on the tablets gaming all the time? Parents need to take charge and have young children do more than stare at the tablets continually. I enjoyed reading Born Reading and thought one way to turn our faltering country back to a creative and critical thinking pro-growth country, would be to give every parent this book as they leave the hospital with their new born child.
Another book that was a standout in encouraging reading is Raising Ravenous Readers by Linda Schwartz. It focuses in on children 8-12. The book is more a variety of activities to help promote reading. Two major focuses of the book was to help young people find material to read based on what they are interested in. I know many college students have told me their struggle with reading was in school always being forced to read material that did not interest them. This can be turned around if in the important ages of 8-12 students are introduced to libraries and finding books on topics that interest them. Linda Schwartz promotes the use of libraries in her book.
She also like Jason Boog, emphasizes the importance of interactive reading in making some time as a family for reading. Have conversations with children about the books that they are reading. A passion for reading can be developed by simply reading to children for 20 minutes a day. I like how she emphasizes libraries but she also importantly mentions visiting children sections of bookstores. I remember hearing a story at a counseling convention of how for a contest, one small town school had winners in a state poster contest. The winning students received Barnes & Noble gift cards. The principal took the students to the nearest big city that had a Barnes & Noble store. She said the students had never been in a bookstore before and were amazed. So, opening young children’s minds to bookstores helps to build a passion for reading as well.
Bookworms need to keep multiplying by encouraging reading. The two books listed here can help in giving you ideas on how to encourage reading in young people in your sphere of influence.
Reflection: Who inspired your love of reading? How can you encourage a new generation of bookworms in your sphere of influence?
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
I was in my local New Braunfels Public Library just the other day and picked up a “Every Hero Has A Story” bookmark. That is the theme for library Summer reading programs this year. When I picked it up, I realized I had not done my early Summer plug for library reading programs in my blog this year. Actually I am surprised that the Summer is half over. With our trip to Australia and my intense final classes for my Ph.D. and formulating my dissertation question and topic I forgot about the reading programs.
The librarian I spoke with did tell me they were having a good year with the reading program here in New Braunfels. Here is the link to the New Braunfels reading program - newbraunfels.libguides.com/srp What I like to see is that they offer the programs for children, teens and adults. I am glad my coursework in my Ph.D. is over, so next year even though I will be busy on my dissertation I can go through the 2016 reading program in the adult category.
I decided to look up my hometown of Barberton, Ohio library’s program to see what they were doing for their reading program. This is the link to the Barberton program - www.barbertonlibrary.org/2015srp . I noticed they link a series of activities that go along with their reading program for children and early teens. I remember fond memories of going through their reading program when I was in elementary school. That is when I began my love of reading. The program opened my mind up to various types of fiction such as the Hardy Boys mystery series. I also enjoyed reading stories about different parts of the world and differing cultures. I would not be the same person I am today if my mother had not encouraged my participation in the Barberton Public Library reading program. It is a reminder of how small events in life can have lifelong impacts years later.
Most reading programs are wrapping up at the end of July. It is important to note though that school does not start until the end of August. So if you missed the reading programs there is still time to visit your local library and pick some books of interest for reading on a Summer day or weekend. Also remember as well, the library is there year round for you to keep reading alive in your life throughout the year.
Reflection – Do you encourage your children or grandchildren in Summer reading programs at your local library? You can help in building a positive habit in their lives. How about yourself? Check out the various programs for adults in your local library? There are book clubs and reading challenges for adults throughout the year.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
I received an email wondering why my blog stopped. Part of the problem was coming down ill after vacation. I have been battling a light bronchitis so energy has been low so priority has been my counseling job and my PhD classes. While Australia is fresh on my mind, I wanted to write up the second part of my thoughts.
First of all I wanted to mention some of the people we met along the way. Meeting people was one reason for going to Australia. One person in particular is a friend of our daughter. His name is Mathew, a wonderful Christian man originally hailing from India. His knowledge of the Adelaide area helped us to maximize our time there in seeing various sights from Victor Harbor to Kangaroo Island.
Through Mathew we met others such as his house mates who guided us to a beautiful overlook to see a sunset. We also on vacations enjoy visiting churches so we attended Unley Christian Chapel. Here is their weblink to learn about their church and to view pictures of these welcoming folks- http://www.unleychristianchapel.org/index.html We enjoyed the fellowship with the church members and after church one family invited us out to Dim Sum at a local Chinese restaurant.
In the Rundle Mall area there were a variety of street performers sharing their talents with the crowds walking from shop to shops. One of the musicians I spoke with was Andy Salvanos who was playing the Chapman Stick. He was born in Sweden and had done bass guitar session work in Los Angeles here in the states. He now was enjoying life in Adelaide. Here is his website in case you would like to listen to his music - http://www.andysalvanos.com/index.html
My favorite part of the trip to Australia was Kangaroo Island. We stayed overnight at Seal Bay Cottages. After a refreshing nights rest my wife and I woke up early and saw a couple of kangaroos hopping by the cottage. We went to a honey bee farm as it was named Clifford's Honey Farm. Since my third grade teacher was Mrs. Clifford I could not pass that up.
Of the various locations we saw on the Island, Flinders Chase National Park, was the most spectacular. The coastline with the seals resting on the rocks and the Remarkable rock formations was amazing to view. The views reminded me of the awesome God of Creation I serve. I know others would just believe it was caused by random chance over millions of years but my viewing the beauty of it out points to the more probable cause of a Creator behind it all. If you are going to Australia I would highly recommend take the extra effort to go over and enjoy Kangaroo Island.
Hope you have enjoyed some of the photos.
Reflection: Have you added Australia to your Dream List? Reflect over your most memorable vacations. What was your favorite part of them? Did you meet any interesting people who stood out to you?
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Australia has been a vacation spot that has been listed on our bucket list as a couple never knowing when we could make it. Life events opened up as a family to go recently to go for a week and a half. Our visit centered in on Adelaide, South Australia. This week and next I will focus on several points of the trip that added value to our life experience. Vacations or Holidays, as they are called over there in the British tradition, are important to Living More Than OK as it helps to take breaks from the routines of our work lives to appreciate all that life has to offer.
Our first full day started off early visiting one of the many Cafes in the city. I enjoyed the variety of Cafes with no Starbuck signs round. In the US in a big city there are usually Starbuck signs every other block with it being the only place for coffee. Adelaide offers a wide variety of coffee café choices. The one we went to was Cibo Expresso Café on the corner of Rundle and Frome. It is one of the popular café chains in Australia. The setting was very relaxing and the staff were friendly as well as helpful to us since they quickly picked up that we were tourists. They patiently described how to travel to the zoo which was our next stop for the day. The pastries were fresh and not overly sweet. My wife and I enjoyed the coffee as well. On the Cibo website their theme is to “savour life’s simple pleasures”. That phrase related well with our experience of that café. The atmosphere allowed us to plot out our first day’s activities in a calm relaxing setting.
Our next stop was the Adelaide Zoo. The zoo is the second oldest zoo in the country being formed in 1883. The zoo houses 250 different species of animals. They showcased animals native to Australia such as the kangaroos and Koala bears. They also had a variety from around other parts of the world. Our favorite was the Panda bear exhibition. The two pandas are Funi and Wang Wang from a panda research center in China. We had an opportunity there to hear an informative session from the zoo caretakers about the pandas. We also enjoyed the variety of colorful wild birds on display. The zoo reminded me of how Creation is so amazing when considering the complex differences among the various animal species.
Being a Bookhead, books are always important to me even on vacation. My PhD course was still in progress so I stopped by the State Library of South Australia to do some assignment work. While I worked, my wife read up on history of Australia at the library. I was able to obtain a visitors pass for the time in Australia so I could log into my class anytime during our stay there. Of course vacations are not about school work so I had pre-done most of my work I just needed some time to add to discussions. They have a beautiful state library which was close to the University of Adelaide. I also visited one of the city library locations in Rundle Mall and enjoyed looking around that library as well. In the Rundle Mall shopping area we visited Dymocks books which reminded me of a Barnes and Noble bookstore. I was glad to see a vibrant bookstore in the main shopping area. I enjoy used bookstores as well and was delighted to come across Michael Treloar Antiquarian Booksellers. The store is located by the State Library. The store inside is wrapped around with bookshelves with old books most in mint condition. I would have loved to peruse the shelves for a long time but I knew I am so behind on my reading with my PhD studies that I needed to watch my temptation to add to the backlog of books.
This is just a starting point of our time in Adelaide, South Australia. I will share some other aspects and photos next week. If Australia is not on your bucket list or future dream list I recommend you add it.
Reflection: What are favorite activities you always try to incorporate in your vacations? Are you planning a Summer vacation this year?