My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Creativity of Christmas Lights in Windcrest



After our Christmas dinner, our daughter suggested we go to Windcrest, Texas to see the neighborhood Christmas lights. I always thought Windcrest was a neighborhood in San Antonio but it is actually a small city on the Northeast side of San Antonio. Every Christmas season they do a lights competition so their area has some of the most beautiful displays in the area.

As we drove in the main neighborhood with the displays; we saw as in previous years some of the standard displays. Then in other yards we saw new displays we had not seen before. What always strikes me is the wide variety of creativity seen through the neighborhood. As you can see in the pictures posted here some are simple as just a manger scene by a tree or elaborate animal cut-out displays. Several of the homes had Christmas carols playing in the background. I wondered to myself, if the creativity reflects on the people who are making up the displays.



Not every house has a display which shows it is not mandatory to live there to do the Christmas displays. Still plenty of homes do become involved. There are placements for different categories such as best mailbox display, most joyous, or most creative. I would not want to be a judge as there is such a large number of amazing displays.

With displays like this the streets were packed with cars but unlike traffic on the local highways people were very patient with each other. No one was honking at those getting out of their cars to take a picture under the largest mistletoe ball. Maybe it was the holiday spirit coming out and calming the drivers.




As I drove through, my wife and daughter enjoyed the sights and took pictures. I made sure we did not bump into any other cars but still was able to keep a good view on the various decorations. I also took time to savor memories of Christmas lights in the past. There is just something about the lights at Christmas time. They remind me of years ago when I would go back to see my mother at Christmas in Ohio when she was alive. One thing she always wanted me to do was to take her out in the car to see Christmas lights. So seeing the lights in Windcrest allowed me to go back to the fond memories of those times taking my mother out to enjoy the lights.

Pictures are important for future memories but there is nothing like the experience of enjoying the lights in the moment.



Reflection: What kind of memories do Christmas lights bring to your mind? What are your favorite Christmas memories?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Lessons from Enjoying Andrea Bocelli in Concert



Over a week ago we as a family enjoyed a concert experience of Andrea Bocelli in Austin, Texas. We had been anticipating the concert for months as we bought the tickets in Summer. We had viewed dvd’s of his concerts in the past yet in my mind’s eye nothing beats the live concert experience. That evening he was with a full orchestra and chorale, along with guest artists. My favorite of his guests was soprano Ana Maria Martinez. That to me is an amazing point about him. It is not all about him as he showcases other talents to help others in their careers.

He performed songs from his latest CD, “Cinema” as well as popular love songs and spiritual songs. With this being the Christmas season he also did O Come All Ye Faithful in Italian. My wife liked how he showed video of he and his wife during one of the love songs. To promote his Andrea Bocelli Foundation's 'Voices Of Haiti' Choir, he had backup on one song by a local Austin children’s choir. I have listed here the lyrics to one of my favorite songs of his. Take time to listen to the Youtube video embedded in the title by hyperlink:

The Prayer (Click on title to hear duet of Andrea Bocelli and Katherine McPhee)

I pray you'll be our eyes,
and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise,
in times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer,
when we lose our way
Lead us to a place,
guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe.
La luce che tu hai
I pray we'll find your light
Nel cuore resterà
And hold it in our hearts
A ricordarci che
When stars go out each night
L'eterna stella sei
Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
Quanta fede c'è
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace

Give us faith so we'll be safe
Sogniamo un mondo senza più violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace, di fraternità

La forza che ci dà
We ask that life be kind
È il desiderio che
And watch us from above
Ognuno trovi amor
We hope each soul will find
Intorno e dentro a sé
Another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Just like every child

Need to find a place,
guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe
È la fede che
Hai acceso in noi
Sento che ci salverà.

The lessons I learned from the night first of all was while I was listening to the song above, The Prayer. With his blindness he could be bitter, but his singing this song, one understands he has deep spiritual roots. That very first line “I pray you'll be our eyes” must have special meaning to someone who is blind. He is seeking God to guide with his grace and protection throughout each day, in a way that those of us with sight do not fully understand.

After the concert I looked up his biography at biography.com. He was born September 22, 1958 in Lajatico, Tuscany, Italy. His parents encouraged music early in his life with various instruments. He also enjoyed sports especially soccer. He was not born blind but had visual impairment at birth. He actually lost his sight at age 12 playing soccer. I can’t imagine a young boy at that age losing his sight. Thankfully he had a supportive family who encouraged education. He kept his passion for music but his parents wanted him to be a lawyer and he did become one. At the same time he never gave up on music. Happenstance happened in his life with a chance event in 1992 when he recorded a demo tape of "Miserere" the song co-written by Bono of U2. This was heard by the famous Luciano Pavarotti who then helped Andrea spur his career in music to what it is today.




So Andrea Bocelli was respectful of his parents career advice but at the same time never gave up on his own passion for music. He was also proactive with happenstance in that he did not sit around waiting to be noticed but did demo tapes that just happened to reach a great singer like Pavarotti who understood Bocelli’s talent. You can’t just sit and wish on dreams and goals there is the need for action; in the case of music the hard work of creating demos and sending them out.

From a number of songs like The Prayer, above was also the reminder of the importance of the spiritual in our lives. Bocelli seems to understand that his life journey is guided by a power greater than he. Even though I use the word happenstance, I see it as God guiding the chance events in our lives and the wise person acknowledges this. I believe his God-centeredness is a driving force in his Foundation -- 'Voices Of Haiti'. He is using the musical talents of the children in the choir to help change their present lives and a future out of poverty.

We may not have the talent of an Andrea Bocelli but each of us has talents that can either be wasted by neglect or perfected by passion and drive. At this Christmas time this may be the right time to slow down and reflect on your talent and passion and see how you can grow into the New Year.

Reflection: Who is your favorite musician and what can you learn from their life? Take time and think over what your talent in is your life. Are you using your talent or is it stagnating? How can you improve your talent in the New Year?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Are You Thankful To Be Alive?



A reader of my book, Living More Than OK, (purchase at Barnes & Noble by clicking on title) complimented me on my book as it was helping him grow in his life. Although he said there was a song I should have added into the text. I made use of many songs in the book to make people think of the song’s messages but he had an addition. I asked him what song was that and he said “Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez”. He said it was a positive song from back in the days of disco. So at first chance I looked it up on Youtube and remembered it from the late 1970’s.

Patrick Hernandez is a French singer whose family roots are Spanish. He was more popular in Europe but his big hit, Born To Be Alive, gained gold status in the US and was on the Billboard charts for disco songs when it came out in 1979.

As I listened to the song and looked over the lyrics there is not a lot of depth to the lyrics but take a listen to it and see what you think.

Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez (click on the title hear to hear the song)

We were born to be alive
We were born to be alive
Born, born to be alive
(Won't you be alive)
You see you were born
Born, born
(Born to be alive)

People ask me why
I never find a place to stop
And settle down, down, down
But I never wanted all those things
People need to justify
Their lives, lives, lives

You see you were
Born, born, born to be alive
(Born to be alive)
You see you were
Born, born, born
(Born to be alive)
It's good to be alive
To be alive
To be alive
It's good to be alive
To be alive
To be alive
It's good to be alive

Time was on my side
When I was running down the street
It was so fine, fine, fine
A suitcase and an old guitar
And something new to occupy
My mind, mind, mind

You see you were born, born
Born to be alive
(Born to be alive)
You see you were born, born, born
(Born to be alive)
You see you were born, born, born
(Born to be alive)
Born, born to be alive

What I like about the song is the catchy tune is full of positive energy. I usually like deep lyrics I can think through but in this case the overall message makes me think about how we should look at life. We were not placed on this earth to just exist. Many times when I people-watch crowds too many people walk around like lifeless zombies. The song writer has it right that we were born to be alive!

I am thankful the reader of my book brought this song up to me, especially at this time. The message makes me think -- How am I occupying my mind this Christmas season? Do I dread the stress of the holidays, worn out as another year ends? Or am I thankful that “It’s good to be alive!” as the song says? How would each day be different if we would wake up and dance through the day realizing we were born to be alive and to understand in our mind that is a good thing!

I found it amazing that after listening to the song the gentleman pointed out to me; later that day on Facebook I saw a post from Success Magazine about 126 Ways To be Extraordinary (www.success.com/article/126-ways-to-be-extraordinary.) With the song on my mind I read the article. I felt the ways to be extraordinary can be a help in living a more alive life. Here are 10 ways from the list that stood out to me (you can explore the article and find 10 that are important to you):

2. Say, “Thank you.”
3. Learn from your mistakes.
17. Plan to be successful.
21. Fight mediocrity.
51. Stay mentally strong.
70. Read a new biography.
91. Let someone else get the attention.
108. Have a big vision for those around you.
117. Write a kind note.
125. Remember the good times.



I was never big into disco back in the 1970’s as I was more of a classic rock person as in Kansas and Yes. But I am glad this reader of my book shared with me the disco song, Born To Be Alive. Is there a song you enjoy that has a positive message to it. Please leave a comment and let me know.

Reflection: How can you be more alive this Holiday Season? Look at the article 126 Ways To be Extraordinary at the link above and choose your personal list of top 10 ways to be extraordinary in your life.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bed & Breakfast Thanksgiving




We took a different approach to Thanksgiving this year. With work stressing us out we took the opportunity to get away further up in the Hill Country of Texas to Uvalde, Texas. We rented a cabin at the Live Oaks Bed & Breakfast. I have a picture of the country styled cabin shown above. The cabin experience was a relaxing way to spend the holiday. Live Oaks had a beautiful tree covered yard which attracted deer at night.

The main reason for our getaway was to enjoy God’s amazing creation which provided us with an inner purpose for being thankful. We visited two state parts near Uvalde. On the way to the cabin we stopped at Lost Maples State park first. We were hoping to see some changing colors from the maple trees but we must have missed it by a couple of weeks. Still it was an awesome sunny day to view the water and the hillsides during out hike. On the trail we were surprised to meet a young couple from our church. It turned out their family was doing Thanksgiving as well at a nearby cabin. They were kind enough to take a picture of us.


The park we went to on Thanksgiving was Garner State Park. We thought we would be the only ones there but there was a line of cars when we went to the park. Then inside the park in the camping area we found a number of families with campers enjoying the holiday weekend in the state park. Although the parks are relatively close together the trees and surrounding are different. Garner has a shallow river that runs through it and the hillsides seemed steeper. We enjoyed hiking but realized we did not have the right shoes for the one trail we chose so did not make it to the top. We understood it was not the end of the world not to make the whole hiking trail. Again we were just thankful for another beautiful sunny day to enjoy hiking and the wonder of nature surrounding us.



For me I always enjoy finding time on Thanksgiving for reading. Back at the cabin I had evening time to read. I was able over the two days to finish a couple of books I had been working through.



This was a nice change of pace for Thanksgiving this year. We definitely will be returning to Uvalde to visit Garner State Park again (with more appropriate hiking shoes). We will go back to the same bed & breakfast as the atmosphere there was relaxing and clean. As for Thanksgiving though next year I will vote to stay home as I missed cooking the turkey in our kitchen and inviting friends who did not have a place to go.

Reflection: What was your favorite Thanksgiving experience? Are there any Thanksgiving rituals you regularly follow? Did you do any reading during the holiday?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thankful the Lord Hears Our Cry




Recently I had a client discuss songs that uplift him and give him energy. A couple of the bands he shared were U2 and Duran Duran. He told me I should check out the video of U2 doing the song “40” live at Redrocks. That is one of my favorite U2 songs so I checked out the video. The song is Bono’s adaptation of the first few verses of Psalm 40. Going into Thanksgiving this week I felt it is an important Psalm to reflect upon.



"40" U2 “40” at Redrocks (click on the title to listen to the video and reflect on the words. Below the lyrics I have the complete text of Psalm 40)

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long...how long...how long...
How long...to sing this song

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long...how long...how long...
How long...to sing this song


Psalm 40 King James Version (KJV)

1 I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

4 Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

5 Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,

8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.

10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.

14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.

17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

The beginning and ending of the verses reveal the attitude of humility that is integral in calling out to God in prayer. The Psalmist presents himself as needing a deliverer and helper for the outside evils of life that face him and the inner sinfulness of his human nature that needs forgiveness. He waits patiently in prayer for the Lord’s answer as he knows God is not a celestial bellboy to jump at his beck and call.

Just like I stated in last week’s post there are times we feel stuck in a pit or other times -- forget the feelings – actual life situations put us in a virtual miry pit. Through crying out to God, the Psalmist reminds us God can lift us out and place us on firm ground. Our response should be a heart of rejoicing and thanksgiving.

In a worshipful response to God’s deliverance we each can create a new song to sing out about God’s wonderful works and how good it is to trust in Him. That song according to verse 3 is a testimony to the people around us. Living out the song can have a positive impact to those around us as they see God’s work in us.

The Psalmist points a realistic picture of the harsh times in life. Sometimes it is other people that put us into the pit. Sometimes it is our selfish sins that make us be stuck in the pit. The promise is as we keep our relationship with God growing He will help us rise above the harsh realities of this life. At this time of Thanksgiving take time to remember and humbly reflect upon the majesty of God who reaches down to us with mercy and love.



Reflection: What do you feel when you think of the majesty of God and his amazing works? What does it mean to you to wait patiently upon the Lord? What New Song is God placing in your heart and life this Thanksgiving?



Monday, November 14, 2016

Break Through From Being Stuck



At times we feel we are stuck on a treadmill on our life journey. We are moving and becoming exhausted but as we look around we are in the same spot. Living More Than OK the idea behind my book by the same name encourages a life journey that spirals up into abundant living. The idea is about continually growing and moving higher up to new goals and purposes. That is not happening when we are stuck and exhausted.

I came across a book from Simple Truths that speaks to these times of being stuck. The book is Getting Unstuck: 10 Simple Secrets to Embracing Change and Celebrating Your Life. The authors, George and Sedena Cappannelli, are founders of Age Nation. They have a rich history in media and are motivational experts in the area of helping organizations and individuals deal with change.

Change – we all face it. Each day is a new change with new directions, challenges and opportunities. Just think of their subtitle though. How many of us are good with embracing change? We are more comfortable initially being stuck in the comfort of the knowable. Many wind up hiding in their comfort zone closet and miss out on the celebration that is waiting for them if they would step out and try new possibilities.

The book looks at 10 secrets they offer to help us break out of the comfort of the recliner of the comfortable knowns or the fear of the closet of the mundane routines we settle for in our lives. I will make a few comments on a few of the secrets that stood out to me the most. For the other 7 you will need to buy the book or request it at your local library.

1. Rules are made for the guidance of wise men and women.
2. Begin at the beginning.
3. Learn to say yes.
4. Build a strong and stable base.
5. Celebrate excellence.
6. Eliminate limiting beliefs and negative self-talk.
7. Connect, understand, and accept.
8. Worship spontaneity.
9. Take (almost) nothing seriously.
10. Become an instrument of grace and gratitude.

Secret 3 “Learn to say Yes” stood out to me first of all. Concerning this they say ”Where resistance , tension, and stubbornness are often the by-products of no; yes can become our gateway to openness, greater joy, and a rewarding and adventurous life.” (p,33). Often the no’s we say to ourselves keep us stuck as we fail to step out in faith to new opportunities and possibilities. How much do we miss out in life whether it is in meeting new people, helping someone, or a new opportunity for success when we are locked in fear with our saying no instead of saying yes.

With secret 6 which is “Eliminate limiting beliefs and negative self-talk.”, I believe it fits well with secret 3. Our negative thinking and false beliefs are often behind many of the no’s we tell ourselves. The negativity of our thinking keeps us stuck in our doubts about moving in an upward spiral to abundant living. They encourage in the book to be reflective and meditative in our thinking so we can mindfully be aware of the negativity filling our thought life. In doing so we can change the negative statements to positive thoughts that move us forward in vibrant living opportunities.

Secret 10 was another secret that stood out to me. That secret is stated as “Become an instrument of grace and gratitude.” One thought in this section is ”Your life is a gift, even with it’s most daunting challenges, difficult people, circumstances and significant changes.” (p. 100). When we are in stuck mode we are whining and complaining too much to view our lives as a gift of grace. We need to take time not just at this Thanksgiving season but throughout the year. Being grateful, helps to pull us out of being stuck to be open to new things to be thankful for. Here they mention one of my many favorite quotes, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. “ (Meister Eckhart)

There was a wealth of information to reflect upon with the other 7 secrets. I focused on 3 in hopes to whet your mental appetite to seek out the book for yourselves. If you find yourself stuck in your life remember your Creator made you for more than sitting is a comfortable recliner or exhaustingly treading in one spot. Make this a time for a break through and become unstuck.



Reflection:

Think through a time of being stuck in your life. What did you learn about yourself and how did your break free? What did you think about the 3 secrets I presented from the book?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Life Wounds Can Be Bearers of Light



One myth about positive psychology is that it just focuses in on happiness and ignores the difficulties of life. That is so far from the truth. Yes it does provide research on happiness which of course is a good thing, as who does not want to be happy. Just think of it, even our Declaration of Independence speaks of happiness, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….”. Still, positive psychology does speak to the illnesses and hurts that affect mankind. The principles they research can aid in overcoming hurts and wounds that are realities in our life journey.

I thought of this as I was listening to Switchfoot’s latest CD, Where The Light Shines Through. I want you to focus your attention to the lyrics of their title song. As always, first click on the title and listen to the video of the song

"Where The Light Shines Through" Switchfoot (click on the title to hear the song)

When you're feeling like an astronaut
Stuck on a planet even time forgot, and
You're a version of yourself, but you're not the same
You try to keep the wound camouflaged, and
The stitches heal, but the years are lost, and
Another bottle on the shelf can't numb the pain

Why're you running from yourself now?
You can't run away

Cause your scars shine like dark stars
Yeah, your wounds are where the light shines through
So let's go there, to that place where
We sing these broken prayers where the light shines through--
The wound is where the light shines through
Yeah, the wound is where the light shines through

Ain't we all just Abraham's son?
Saint and sinner with the song and drum, and
We're fallen on our knees, we all bleed the same
And the only tattoos I have are scars
I got your name written on my heart
And the story that brought us here ain't the thing that changed, no

I wanna see that light shining
Brighter than the pain

Cause your scars shine like a dark star
Yeah, your wounds are where the light shines through
So let's go there, to that place where
We sing these broken prayers where the light shines through
The wound is where the light shines through

Mama, ain't the blood just proof I'm human?
Mama, ain't the wound just retribution?
Well Mama, ain't the scar like a vision of grace?

The wound is where the light shines through
The wound is where the light finds you
The wound is where the light shines through
The wound is where the light finds you
Your scars shine like dark stars
Yeah, the wound is where the light shines through
It's where the light shines through
Yeah, yeah, it's where the light shines through
Yeah, the only time to our heart, oh oh
It's where the light shines through
Where the light shines, where the light shines through
Where the light shines though
It's where the light shines through

As I listened to the song I thought of times of wounds in my life. Back in Chicago there were wounds of hurtful relationships, memories of my mom’s death and oldest brother’s death. There were work difficulties and times of wondering what should be my direction in life. Over the years I have worked with students and in counseling practice I have observed many people’s life pains and wounds. The song speaks truth in that while we go through life wounds, we can feel as if we are outside of life like outer space as we experience pain because we know the pain is not where we are meant to keep living. You feel as if you are somewhere, where God has forgotten you. Some people hide the pain as I made mention in my book, Living More Than OK, some can smile and say “everything is OK while living in the pain”. Others turn to substances like drugs or alcohol, “Another bottle on the shelf can't numb the pain”. Like hiding they find substances do not help with the pain long-term.

The song encourages facing the pain and learning from the wounds that come into our lives. The lyric phrase “Well Mama, ain't the scar like a vision of grace?” to me points out that our wounds can be a turning point to learn more of God’s Grace in our lives. Letting the light shine though our wounds breaks the hold of life pains on us and bring us back to earth where we can serve others who are hurting.

The song writer reminds us that we are all fellow brothers and sisters who each have our own wounds and scars. As we let the light shine through we can learn to grow in our lives and learn to be better people helpers to those around us. I have met people who after the fact are thankful for the tough times they went through as they became stronger in their life journey because of the difficulties and wounds they faced. As I look back of course I did not enjoy in the moment, my life difficulties but they have helped in serving college students as I can be real with them about what they will face in their futures. The past difficulties have been helpful in serving counseling clients, as I can encourage those hurting that the light will shine through in their lives if they do not give up.



Reflection: Think through some of your wound times in your life. In looking back do you see some light shining through that you learned from? How have the hardships and difficulties in your life journey made you a better person today?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Think and Use Your Brain in This Presidential Election




I try to stay away from politics in my blog. Work and school research has been so busy I have not written recently. Also recently the election has worn me down as I see the possible increase in problems for the country if Hillary gets elected. So I thought this week I would focus in on critical thinking, which I am a believer in the importance of it and how it relates to the election.

I remember back in the primaries Dr. Ben Carson kept using a phrase “Use your brain and think for yourself”. Dr. Carson was our favorite in the primary race, (as you know over the years I have mentioned him often in my blog). We as a family felt he was the sound rational thinker to help turn the country around. His thought that the politicians are the problem is one concept that tapped into my thinking. When he dropped out Mr. Trump was the only real pragmatic outsider left. It helped us to see Dr. Carson be supportive of Mr. Trump.

What has disgusted me about this race is that people are not using sound thinking in looking at the candidates. Listen and think of what you hear from Hillary supporters. They cannot tell you one good thing Hillary has done for the country in her 30 years of living off the taxpayers. Instead all they do is say trashy and nasty things about Mr. Trump. Their statements are all based on negative emotions instead of thinking.

Facts and solid thinking are on the side of Mr. Trump. From the beginning he has been solid on the need for strong borders. Knowing that the Border Patrol and ICE has endorsed Mr. Trump is important to think about as who knows more about the border’s needs than these professionals. Hillary’s supporter’s counter with lies that Mr. Trump said all Mexicans were killers and rapists. This is a lie as you can go back to the tapes and see he never said “all”. There are many Hispanics who are voting from Mr. Trump but you would never know by listening to the media. The facts show Mr. Trump was and is right -- just one clear example was the death of Kate Steinle; shot by an illegal immigrant while out walking with her father. Mr. Trump is right that we don’t have a country if we do not have a border. In the Summer we went to Big Bend National Park and one trail was by the Rio Grande river. There they posted warning signs to not enter Mexico illegally or face fines and prison. Think about it!

Probably the most disturbing thought I have about Hillary becoming President is her pathological lying. My best example that makes me livid goes back to her lies over Benghazi. In my book, Living More Than OK, in the chapter on critical thinking I discuss her lies about the 4 brave Americans who died in Benghazi. The facts show that she did not listen to the Ambassador’s hundreds of request for more help. Then worse yet, lied to the faces of the families of the killed 4 brave heroes in front of the coffins telling them they would get the YouTube video guy! Facts from emails prove she texted her daughter and leaders of Egypt and Libya that it was a terrorist attack before she told those lies to the families. That lie is more than pathetic it is sick. With their blood on her hands, she should not even be allowed to run for president.

Mr. Trump has discussed details of his 100 day plan to show how to build our defense, return jobs, and Make America Great again ( by the way what is so bad about that phrase??- think about it). All Hillary does in her few speeches, when she has energy to go to a rally, is to say lies about Mr. Trump and give out the regular empty promises politicians have been saying for years – 30 years in her case. As Mr. Trump has said – what has she done in those 30 years except get rich? Think about it.



Wikileaks and Project Veritas have shown proof of the corruption and the collusion with the mainstream media that has made me sick about this election. Every voter needs to watch some of the Project Veritas videos and think about what the truth is about Hillary Clinton. I remember Watergate and the Nixon administration. The corruption of Hillary and Bill makes Nixon look like a choir boy.

I could go on forever as there are so many positive reasons to vote for Mr. Trump. One of the most important reasons to think about is the Supreme Court. A president is there for 4 maybe 8 years but the next president will appoint 2-4 Supreme Court justices who will affect the next generation. Voters need to think about what kind of Supreme Court do they want? A court that honors the Constitution like the candidates Mr. Trump has announced or a court that legislates from the bench that Hillary wants. Think about it.

As the election is close it is hard to know what will happen. I fear for the country as the media is worse than any media under communist regimes. They are not reporting objectively instead they are slanting the news in favor of Hillary’s lies so as to brainwash the voters. WikiLeaks and Project Veritas have proven the media is in collusion with Hillary. Even going back to Hillary versus Bernie; Bernie would have won the primary if it was not for the media. Going back to Dr. Carson’s statement I list at the beginning. If the voters use their brains and think then Mr. Trump will win and the country can move forward out of the mess of the past 8 years. If lies and corruption continue to blind non-thinking voters then Hillary will win and the country will basically continue on a spiral down to further destruction.

Reflection: What are you basing your vote on- blind emotion or critical thinking? Have you looked into the facts from Wikileaks or Project Veritas?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Growth Mindset and Positive Emotions To Keep On Going




This semester of teaching is going by so fast. Part of this fastness perception was trying to get my college teaching classes off to a good start while ending a quarter of my dissertation work. With the dissertation it was a Summer quarter of trying to gain final approval on my research. There were items out of my control giving me grief and stress so it was hard to keep a positive front to my college students with my own educational stress was making my self-talk want to throw in the towel.

Thankfully as the quarter ended I did finally gain full approval for my research. So in the near future I hope to run my research study. So I realized I need to keep a mindset of growth to keep on going on the dissertation marathon.

Early on in each semester I go over in my college success courses the importance of Mindset based on the work of Dr. Carol Dweck. I was grateful this year in our pre-semester adjunct professor training to be affirmed in emphasizing this to students. At our training this year the guest speaker was Dr. Janet Nay Zadina. She was a former teacher and now an educational neuroscientist. I have gone to these mandatory training for years and she was the most noteworthy presenter I have heard. Listening to her I could feel her passion for education. She was not there to just pick up a speaker’s paycheck. Instead she wanted to instill the importance of helping college students grow in successful ways.

I was lucky in the drawing at the final morning session as I won a copy of her book, Multiple Pathways to the Student Brain and the corresponding workbook. It is an effective resource for educators on best practices to help students learn based on the most recent neuroscience research.

The most important aspect from her session and in her book for me was the emphasis on encouraging students to understand growth versus fixed mindset early in the school year or semester. Dr. Zadina pointed out that the growth mindset allows the student to break free from the fixed thinking of “I just can’t do it” or “That’s not the way I am”. Often those students struggling with math or writing will say statements like that which become self-fulfilling prophecies in math and English courses. Or the student that does poorly in Speech will say “I can’t speak in public”.
When students understand the growth mindset that they have the ability to grow in every area of their lives it frees them up from the negativity. This then allows them to obtain better abilities in all areas of academics as well as other areas of life.

Another area in the book and her presentation that stood out to me was the need to emphasize positive emotions. So many struggling students are bound up by negative beliefs and a victim mentality. By emphasizing positive emotions such as gratitude, confidence, enthusiasm, inspiration and awe they often can move in a positive direction in re-framing their mindset about their possible success in their academics in college.

As a therapist as well, I see many personal problems are caused by people being bound up by negative emotions such as frustration, jealousy, despair and envy. When they move over to a habit of allowing positive emotions control their lives they are more likely to overcome problems such as anxiety and depression.

I had to deal with this myself as I was frustrated with gaining research approval so I could move forward with my dissertation. It is easy to let negativity and the “maybe I should give up mentality” take over. But I did not give into that and kept pressing on and finally approval came. Granted too late to do the research this semester on my time line. Overlooking that, I simply created a new timeline starting with the January semester. So I will keep on with my dissertation marathon and continue to encourage my college students to focus on growth in their lives as well.


Reflection: Examine your reactions to life – are you guided more by negative emotions or positive emotions? How can you build up your positive emotions more in your daily life?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Promoting and Supporting Reading



As Summer nears an end and the school year begins it is important to keep reading strong throughout the school year. Although I cover a wide variety of topics in my blog one of my personal favorites is promoting reading. Last post I discussed libraries and this one I am showcasing an organization I have been following on Facebook for a number of months. It is the group, Reading Is Fundamental. On their website they say this about their group: “For 50 years, Reading Is Fundamental has used its experience and expertise to motivate and inspire young children to read. It’s not just the books we distribute that make an impact. Our evidence-based program, Read for Success, helps children improve reading proficiency and combat summer learning loss – a contributing factor to the achievement gap.”

Their website, to explore what they are all about is-- rif.org and I would encourage you to explore all they do as an organization to promote reading on their website. What I like about following them on Facebook is that they daily list important quotes about reading and relevant articles about reading.

Education is important for the success of each individual and reading is foundational for educational progress. On their website at the present time they have some challenging statistics to consider. Think about these stats: 65% of 4th graders do not read on grade level; 8,000 high school students drop out every day; and 80% of low income children are at the risk of falling behind in school. If you think about it; reading touches on each of those issues. Reflect on the lost potential in improving our country and personal lives and dreams of young people through the reality of those statistics. Working on the college level, I see the struggles in students at that level because of a lack of passion and interest in reading which is foundational in college study. It looks like society is faced with a large problem.

But when I see on the RIF homepage “Since 1966, RIF has distributed more than 412 million books to 40 million children nationwide, improving their ability to read, learn and grow.” I see RIF as an organization that is part of the solution in their encouraging of reading. Under their Facts section I found out that “RIF was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1966 by Margaret McNamara when she was tutoring young boys and learned they did not own books.” It is amazing the impact one person with a dream can have. I am sure when she started the program she never thought years later that 412 million books would have been donated.

In their Tips and Resources section they have a wide variety of articles on topics such as motivating kids to read, choosing good books, reading aloud, Summer learning and resources of teachers. Parents may also appreciate their activity calendars for the various ages of children. Check these out at this link - http://www.rif.org/books-activities/calendars/ there are reading ideas and creative learning ideas.

Another item I appreciate about liking them on Facebook is they link to important articles about reading such as this one on the importance of conquering illiteracy - http://www.educationandcareernews.com/learning-tools/access-to-books-is-critical-to-ending-illiteracy

I encourage you if you are a Bookhead like me, check out RIF’s webpage as well as liking them on Facebook. Also tell teachers you know about RIF’s services in promoting reading in the school.



Reflection: How can you encourage reading in your sphere of influence? Think about how RIF was begun by one person, Margaret McNamara, wanting to meet a need for young people’s need for reading. What does that say about the power of one.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Bookheads Appreciate and Support Libraries



As an avid Bookhead I appreciate the importance of libraries. The local public library was where the love of reading first began for me. Over the years libraries have been perfect places for focused study when I was a college student. Just roaming through the bookstacks gave me new ideas of topics to study and learn. From my past experience I have always been thankful for libraries.

With my interest in books and libraries it was while I was searching for books about books I stumbled upon a book entitled, The Artist’s Library. The authors are Erinn Batykefer and Laura Damon-Moore. The book was a pleasant and insightful read as I enjoy reading about people’s passions. As librarians their passion for books and the services of libraries were evident in the pages of their book.

The book is a creative outflow of a project the two authors were involved with called the Library as Incubator. They interviewed people in the art world, such as writers, artists, performance artists, using a question “What does the phrase, ‘library as incubator’ mean to you?” (p. 15). The book highlights throughout the text some of the participants in the project and their thoughts concerning libraries. One example of an initial response by an artist is this: “An incubator is a warm place that encouraged things to come to life. Information is the seed from which one grows. Information informs our work. Interaction with other users and librarians cross-pollinate our ideas and passions…” (p. 15). What an insightful thought on a purpose for the library experience. I could have read a book of just responses like that one, but the authors provide an interplay of the various artists thoughts with practical descriptions of the important services libraries provide for the public.

There was much I learned about libraries from reading The Artist’s Library as well as reaffirming my own thoughts from my experience over the years with libraries. Some of the artists shared how their time in libraries opened new possibilities in their minds for projects they were working on as well as future projects. Possibility making is one aspect why I encourage students to explore libraries for new topics to expand their thinking about life and their journeys through life.

The ideas in the book show that the library is more than just a place to find books to read, even though that is my favorite part of libraries. They remind that libraries are a place to find information for research, many libraries provide monthly programs on important issues and topics, and they also often showcase display works of art for patrons to enjoy. There is so much a library provides a community if you take time to explore your local library.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed is that they provide interactive reflections for the reader. For example this one here: “Think back to the first library you ever visited. Write about or draw moments from that experience.” (p. 55) For myself that reflection took me in my mind back to the children’s section of the Barberton Public Library, in my hometown in Ohio. My first remembrance was for the Summer reading program. I remember the colorful posters and all the books on the display racks and shelves. That experience was the start of my Bookhead journey of enjoying reading.

After reading the book I checked out their website about the book :
www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/?p=13166 I encourage you to visit their website as the story of the project continues. The book was published in 2014. If you click on the link and then click on the various headings – artists, writers, performing arts you will find more stories of artists thoughts on the importance of libraries since their initial work in 2014.

I recommend The Artist’s Library, to anyone who enjoys reading and libraries. It should be mandatory reading for librarians to continue their passion for their career choice. The book provides a deeper understanding and appreciation for the importance of libraries. Do not be a stranger to your local library. Take advantage of all the resources there.


Reflection: Think through why are libraries important to you? What are your favorite memories about libraries? Feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Helping Heroin Addicts Heal and Thrive


This week I was planning on continuing thoughts on reading in the Summer until I heard Senator Rob Portman from Ohio on a news show about his Anti-Heroin Bill. He was discussing the travesty of ruined lives and negative impact on families and society from the scourge of heroin addiction. I was glad to see that his bipartisan bill, The Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (S. 524) was passed 94-1.

In the report on the bill passage the purpose is stated to:

•Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers—to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery.

•Make naloxone more widely available to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.

•Provide resources to promptly identify and more effectively treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders.

•Increase the number of disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.

•Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program and promote treatment best practices throughout the country.

•Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

(From -- www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=press-releases&id=642FECC3-DF06-4D8D-8E21-A54624B7F347 )


In my book, Living More Than OK, I share the importance of seeking natural highs instead of quick drug induced highs. Drugs like heroin offer a quick get away from the problems of life and quick good feelings which our impulsive society pushes on young people. What is hidden from young people is the downward spiral into larger problems that occur through drug use.

In my book I promote a group out of California called Natural High. I promote it in my blog as well. I will again do a shout out about it now. I have used their website naturalhigh.org with counseling teen clients who are becoming involved with drugs. Their videos of successful people who enjoy a natural high is often eye opening to them. I use their videos as well with my college students. Again it opens eyes up to that there is more to enjoying life than ingesting drugs.


Check out this video from their site about one of my favorite bands, Switchfoot. Here is the link -- http://naturalhigh.org/video/switchfoot-grammy-award-winner-2-2/ . In the video the lead singer Jon Foreman reminds us that Natural Highs are not about saying no to drugs but saying yes to positive passions in one’s life. This reminds me of Dr. William Glasser’s concept of positive addictions. In his writings Dr. Glasser reminded us that it is not good enough to help someone stop a negative addiction but instead to find a positive addiction for the person to inculcate into their lifestyle. I also like Drew’s comment of how no one on drugs will say drugs were the best decision in my life. When I went to 12 step program when I volunteered at a drug center in Brownsville no one praised how being addicted to drugs helped them and their families. Instead they shared personal pain and family pain drugs had caused.

I am thankful for resources across the country that are dedicated to help those who are battling drug addiction. One I would like to mention is The Ranch at Clear Springs near Waco, Texas. Their website is www.clearspringsranch.com You can look at their website to see the services such centers provide. Every state has such centers and they need to be promoted for their help of people struggling with addiction. I wanted to give Clear Springs a shout out as the Director is Kito Holtzman, who I was privileged to have as a professor when I took my Drug Counseling course for my Masters in Counseling, at University of Texas at Brownsville, (now University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). Kito had and still has a passion for helping alcohol and drug addicts stop the downward spiral so they can spiral up to a better life.

Going back to the Portman bill it is good to see when politicians get it right. I just hope the follow through from Washington, helps in a practical manner. We all though need to be involved in promoting natural highs to help end the scourge of drugs on our country. If you know school counselors let them know about the organization, Natural High. If you have family or friends struggling with addiction let them know they can find treatment centers to be of help in moving in a positive direction.


Reflection: What is your natural high? You can have more than one. Mine are reading, music, and hiking. Watching the Natural High videos is there a new natural high you would like to try out?


Monday, July 11, 2016

Big Bend Bucket List Item





In my book, Living More Than Ok, (found at Barnes & Noble and Amazon – don’t tell me yes a selfish book pitch!) I encourage following Dream lists in the spirit of John Goddard. Some call them Bucket Lists. For years visiting Big Bend National Park has been our list. This past week we crossed that off our list and we were so glad we went there even though we were told it was the off season due to it being so hot.

We have visited Grand Canyon and were awestruck by the grandeur of the canyon. I visited years ago Rocky Mountain National Park with my brother. The sight of the mountains there is a majestic picture of nature’s beauty. What amazed me about Big Bend was the diversity as you can see in the pictures above. Up in the Chisos mountains you have pines trees and greenery. Then on the lower levels where ranches once stood, you have desert plants and canyons. We were told in April the desert floor is a sea of red and yellow from the cactus flowers. So we plan in the future to go back during that time of year.

We took several of the scenic drives where at every turn the splendor of creativity is seen. You could drive the same route and never be bored as there is so much to see. For each of us different things stood out on each drive. It was so hot we did not see much wildlife except for rabbits and road runners. A family staying near us said they had seen deer and they come across someone who had seen a mountain lion with cubs (personally I had no desire to see a mountain lion—I don’t like the idea of being a snack for another species).


Speaking of the family who stayed near us, we lodged at Big Bend Casitas in Terlingua. I highly recommend staying there. The cabins had an old west charm and were clean and neat. The staff at Far Flung Outdoor Center, who runs the cabins, was friendly and helpful about the area. With Far Flung they do guided river tours, ATV tours and jeep tours. We took a morning jeep tour on our next to the last day. The tour was supposed to be off road in a specially built jeep but there were flash flood warnings from early morning rains so our guide took us into a paved road run in the National Park. Our tour guide, Randy, was amazing with the historical knowledge he had about the area as he drove us down to the Castelon visitor center and the Santa Elena Canyon. Coming back we experienced the flash flooding as a roadway that had been dry 30 minutes earlier was covered in a flowing stream so we had to wait for the water to go down. That impressed us as well with the Far Flung team, as they were interested in safety of their customers.



In Terlingua being such a small town the restaurants are few in number but still very good food. If you go there or I should say when you go there; don’t miss out on eating at La Kiva. The experience is like eating in a cave with beautiful wood tables. There pizza is fantastic. I am usually not fond of white pizzas but their’s with spinach, artichoke hearts and tomato slices is a wonderful taste treat. The staff at La Kiva I felt were the friendliest of the restaurants in town.



If you enjoy national parks add Big Bend to your bucket list. The sunsets and diverse beauty captures the imagination. It is a place to find solace and think over your life. Since I look at life from a Christian world view, at the park and while looking at the night sky made me ponder about the God behind it all and my place in His purpose. No matter what your worldview the Big Bend experience is a must within your life journey.

Reflection: Click on the hyperlink to Big Bend National Park above and look over the pictures. What do the pictures of the park make you think and feel? Reflect on your favorite times in state or national parks. What are your favorite memories? When do you plan to visit Big Bend?



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Winning The Marathons in Your Life



“Energy and Persistence Conquers All Things” Benjamin Franklin

If you are looking for tips for running marathons you are out of luck. I am a walker not a runner so I can’t be much help to those who run marathons. Those who run marathons, I have a great respect for with their disciplined training, their endurance and persistence to push to the end. I found out in writing this that a true marathon is 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers. Those races that are shorter are called 5K, 10K, and half-marathons.

Marathons are at times seen as metaphor for our life journey. In looking at the metaphor I see many of our stages in life relate to being like marathons as well. Work, discipline, sweat, and persistence are parts of many of the various marathons we face. I have been going through a marathon journey the past few years with my work towards my PhD in psychology. I am on the final grueling leg of my dissertation process. That is why the initial picture for this blog is that of reading and research.

Recently, even though I am at the final stage the urge to give up is often in my self-talk. I have approval of my topic and a research plan for a qualitative study but I fear putting it all together. All the course work with Capella University has prepared me for the research and writing of the dissertation, yet at the same time there is the now seemingly chronic fatigue of always balancing work, family and studies. With the plaguing negative self-talk of “just give up – you won’t make it”. Often it feels like it is just me and the race and being the slow one there is no one to cheer the runner on.


That is where persistence kicks in. The quote I have listed here is important in persistently ploughing through the final stages where you want to give up in your marathon whether it is finishing your education, working through marriage problems, or even in finishing a PhD dissertation. “Persistence is a refusal to quit. It is looking into the face of adversity and saying, “I like my odds”. It is an unwillingness to move aside. It is believing in a cause and being distracted by nothing.” There was no person related to the quote and I have found that anonymous quotes are many times the best.

When I look at the last leg of my marathon for my PhD in psychology the negativity of my mind fills my life with getting sidetracked with distractions and the desire to quit. Persistence comes in with clear minded focus on the end goal. It leads with positive self-talk such as “I like my odds – I can finish this!” Often in quitting the marathons in our lives we lose track in our initial belief in the cause of our goal so we let the stuff of life defeat us. It is at these give up times we need to refocus of the goal. As in my case going back to why I started the PhD process, what I can learn from my dissertation research for my future and the future for my family and my work with students and clients.


In talking to marathon runners even though it is the toughest near the end there can be for those who persist a second wind, often called the runner’s high. It is a burst of energy that carries them to the end of the race. In flow research, which is part of my dissertation study; that second wind is important to the flow process in marathon runners. In your personal life journey marathons, don’t give up and you will gain the burst of energy you need to finish.

Our important life journey stages if we really want life growth should be seen as marathons not sprints. Modern culture wants to speed everything into short sprints to success but real life is not that way. When you feel like giving up -- “Keep Going”.


Reflection—What marathon in life are you going through at the present. How does the persistence quote relate to your experience at the present time? What can you personally do to “Keep Going”?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Time To Enjoy Summer Reading




I have been delayed this year in writing a post about Summer reading programs but finally getting around to it. I do hope I can finish my PhD dissertation in a year so I can have it behind me and move more into a wider variety of reading and doing more writing here in my blog.

For the past month in my counseling practice I have been reminding parents of teens and children I counsel, to keep their minds active during the Summer with reading at their local library . Some of my young clients enjoy that idea and others put on a sour face when I make the suggestion. Seeing those responses reminds me that those clients who enjoy reading usually have better progress in the counseling process. It would be an interesting study to compare those who enjoy reading and those who do not as to how well they improve in their counseling therapy.

Reading has always been one of my favorite Summer activities. (of course for me it is year round as well). In Summer I usually look at Oprah’s magazine just to see what books she is suggesting. I have always appreciated her promotion of the importance of reading. In the O magazine for July, Oprah had this to say about reading: “Nothing, not one thing or activity; can replace the experience of a good read – being transported to a different land, a different realm, through words and language.” That thought of being transported took my mind back to my early reading experiences at the Barberton Public Library as a child. The fiction books I gravitated to were about other lands so I remember being transported in my imagination to other areas of the world and learning of other people around the world.

Back in May when we visited Barberton I stopped by the library where I spent many Summers in my elementary years. Then in my high school years I worked part time through high school there. I noticed during my visit there they were advertising their Barberton Public Library Summer Reading Club. Here is the weblink if you want to see how they do their Summer reading program-- www.barbertonlibrary.org/content/create-page-4 For children their theme is "On Your Mark, Get Set...READ!". For the adults, I liked the theme thought of “Exercise Your Mind”. For a vibrant life it is so important at every to exercise the mind.

My local library here in New Braunfels, Texas is promoting a “Read for the Win” Summer reading program. Here is the link to explore their program. newbraunfels.libguides.com/summer They state on their program website this about reading-- “Reading isn't just fun - it keeps us up to date on what's happening in the world, helps us connect with people in other places and times, and helps us keep our brains sharp. Reading is like exercising your mind!” Summer is an excellent time for outdoor activities to exercise our bodies and to be in physical shape. We must remind ourselves though as both libraries are emphasizing in their Summer reading programs exercise for the mind is just as important.



Someone on Facebook posted the quote picture I have listed here of a reading thought by UK author, Neal Gaiman, “The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is… to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means finding books that they enjoy, and letting them read them.” His thought is so important in today's world. Public Library Summer reading programs is one of the best ways to allow children to find the books they will enjoy. That is the beginning of a literary life. Librarians are there to help children and teens to find books that tap into their passionate interests. This Summer take your children or grandchildren to your local library to be involved in their reading programs. They have programs for adults as well so pick up books for yourself at the same time.

Fell free to comment on any thoughts you have about Summer Reading.


Reflection: What books are you reading this Summer? How can you encourage those in your circle of influence to involve themselves at their local library?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Enjoying Ohio’s Natural Splendor



On our recent vacation to Ohio we made it a point to enjoy some of Ohio’s parks. As I mention in my book, Living More Than OK, taking time to enjoy the splendor of nature is one way to improve in living a more than ok life. Going to nature parks adds to life by slowing down and being awed by the amazing details of God’s creation in nature. I am going to mention several of the parks that stood out in our last Ohio trip.

Holden Arboretum





The first place we visited was Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio. The arboretum was started in the 1930’s by the from a gift from the Holden family. Over the years the Holden Arboretum has grown to 3,600 acres in Lake and Geauga counties. We started off the time there with a short tram tour which took us around the main areas describing the plants and trees and a history lesson on the development of the arboretum. Then the rest of the time there we went back to some of the areas we wanted to look at in more detail. Here is the website if you want to learn more about the arboretum -

www.holdenarb.org/home

The flowers and the trees were kept well. The experience gave an awareness of how some people of great wealth use their money wisely so that future generations can enjoy learning about and appreciating nature.

Tinkers Creek Gorge Overlook





This nature site I went to with my brother who enjoys hiking in the many metro parks in Ohio. The Tinker's Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook offered a spectacular view of the wooded area. Tinker's Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook is located off Gorge Parkway in the Bedford Reservation in the Cleveland area. As you can see from the pictures the hiking paths are heavily shaded and think with a variety of trees. Even it was a warm day the trees’ shade created a natural air conditioning. There were also a variety of wildflowers growing along the pathways to enjoy as well. The area is a great place for a morning or afternoon hike. Here is a the website for more information:

www.clevelandmetroparks.com/Main/Tinkers-Creek-Gorge-Scenic-Overlook.aspx



Silver Creek Metro Park





The third and last park we enjoyed in our week visit to Ohio was Sliver Creek Metro Part near Norton, Ohio actual address is listed as Doylestown. We had stayed in Norton several times in the past and never knew of this park. The park is 1,008 acres with a 50 acre spring fed lake. The experience there was so peaceful especially as we sat at a bench just reflecting on the lake with the peaceful water. We just took a short 2 mile hike of the Chippewa Trail. Along that trail there was a pine tree lined pond with frogs croaking. Here is the website for information on this park:

www.summitmetroparks.org/ParksAndTrails/SilverCreek.aspx

I have included pictures from each park. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I hope you will enjoy the pictures.

Reflection: What is the favorite park you have visited? On your vacations do you make it a point to visit nature parks? What do you learn from experiencing nature parks?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Classics As Part Of Your Reading Diet



With Summer coming soon I will doing some blog posts that focus in on reading. I have several clients in my counseling practice that are telling me they will have their children involved in Summer reading programs at their local library. I often encourage them in doing so. As I have mentioned before libraries and reading has always been important in my life.

In considering reading material I read a short book recently from a teacher encouraging the reading of classics by children. The title of the book is Classics Why we should encourage children to read them. It is written by teacher and author, Fiza Pathan. Knowing that a teacher has a passion for encouraging young people to read literary classics was a pleasure to read about. So many of my teen clients and college students paint a picture of schools K-12 being about standardized tests which actually turn them off to learning. We need more Fiza Pathan’s out there in the schools stretching the minds of students in writing essays and reflective papers on literary works as she describes in her book.

Reading through her book made me to think back over my reading history when I was younger and some of the literary classics I had read. Titles such as The Call of the Wild by Jack London, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and my favorite The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis were a few a my favorites that I reflected upon. Fiza’s passion for the classics reminded me that I need to incorporate some of the classics from her list that I have not read into my present and future reading. Most likely future; with my next year being inundated with my PhD dissertation work. She reminded me that there is profit in re-reading old favorites as well; as at a different age and context, I may gain new insights from stories like The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells for example.

Fiza also develops an argument for young people reading of the classics by emphasizing how this can develop their minds. One of the first aspects of development and I feel the most important is how reading the classics develops the imagination. She makes an important statement, “In my teaching experience, I have realized everyone has an imagination; whether the student is an honest first ranker or a sports freak… one has to make a student aware of his or her capabilities. With a rich imagination, a person can do wonders with one’s life.” (Page 9) An imagination and creative mind can be built up as the stories in the classics encourage the mind to take the reader into the story and visualize what they are reading.

She goes on to discuss what I call the addictive levels of young people watching tv and computer videos. As a teacher she has seen the creative powers of students limited and stagnated by their almost constant visual attachment to a video screen. That is because the video spoon feeds their minds the visuals and information in a passive manner. Their minds are not stretched to visualize the scenery themselves. Their minds are not transported into the scene as they are mere passive observers. I have had young children as counseling clients who say their teachers do not read to them in today’s schools. Instead the “book” is shown in class on a screen with an unseen narrator reading to them. The schools are turning reading into another movie/tv experience. That is why I am not really keen on ebooks for children. It is just reinforcing an addiction to staring at a screen. How I remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Clifford reading books to us. I believe that helped encourage me in my reading.

Fiza also moves into how reading books aids in vocabulary building and general knowledge about life and the world. Some of the great works like the writings of Dickens transports the mind back to historical times and can make history fun. Science fiction and futuristic books can encourage a young mind that is interested in science. There are a myriad of benefits to encouraging young people to read the classics. This does not rule out those of us who are not young people. As I mentioned she has an extensive list of classic books. Go to your local library and ask a reference librarian to help you look into some of the classics they may have in their collection. Or most libraries can get about any book you are looking for by their library loan programs. You may also wish to check out Fiza’s website www.fizapathan.com that connects to her blog to find other ideas about encouraging your children in reading or developing your reading diet.



Reflection: Think back to your favorite literary classic. Which is one of your favorites? Do you remember when you read it? Why did it impact you? Go to your local library and pick up a literary classic to read.