Saturday, April 23, 2016
There are many times in our lives where our journey feels upside down. Depression, grief, random difficulties drop into our lives making us feel despair and gloom. How can we move back to a flourishing happy life during these dry patches? I came across a book recently that provides helpful tips and encouraging challenges to move towards turning our world right side up. That book is The Sky Is Green And The Grass Is Blue by Deb Scott.
From her website it is seen that Deb Scott helps people transform their lives by combining her unique practical business, training and leadership experience as a successful professional, with her passion to help people be the best person they were created to be. Her website is www.debscott.com where you can find out more about her, her books and radio program.
What I like about her book is she shares from the difficulties in her life and brings out examples of pains and struggles we all face. She then offers a variety of tips and ideas to help the reader move from pain to promise and hope. One of my favorite tips that I want to share with you is an exercise that helps you look at your personal strengths that you can be thankful for by relating positive words to the letters of your name. This is from page 9 in her book: “Write down each letter in your first name and think of something you are grateful for about yourself right now, in this present moment; something about you, something you have, someone you have in your life. It could be any person, place or thing.” She uses her name in the book for an example. I have tried it with my first name for an example here:
F Faithful to those I love and my values.
R Resiliently moving forward with God’s dreams for me.
A Academic in my desire to grow in critical and creative thinking.
N Nourishing personal growth in self and others.
K Kindly seeks to care for students and patients in my career field as Professor and Counselor.
(I found this helpful website to look for positive words with the letters of your name - http://positivewordsresearch.com/positive-words-that-start-with-letters-from-a-to-z/ ) Give it a try with your name and make a poster to place in a place where it can be a reminder for you.
Deb encourages the reader to make her ideas personal for their life journey. She doesn’t try to fit all people into the same cookie cutter of “do these few things for personal happiness”. She understands we each are unique creations by God and each our on our own journey. That style struck a chord with me as that is what I try to do with my book, Living More Than OK. We each have our own personal calling to follow. Not all ideas work the same so we need to be open to the ideas that work for us in our unique circumstance.
As a professional Counselor I appreciated her chapter on Professional Guidance Therapists and Coaches. Many self-help books are not honest in facing the realities of the difficulties in life. Some authors write like “read my book and all your problems will turn into beautiful butterflies”. That is not realistic and actually provides a disservice to the genre of self-help books. Self-help books can be helpful tools for self-improvement and providing tips in various areas of our lives but they are not a cure all for all problems. Deb reminds her readers to be open to seeking help from professionals. She does so in a manner to help break down the negative stereotypes we still see in the culture at large about seeking therapeutic help for mental and emotional problems.
I have just shared a couple of gems from the whole treasure chest of profitable ideas found in Deb Scott’s book. You will need to get a copy of her book to find more gems for what you are facing in your upside down life. She has many more exercises, lists of helpful web resources and other books that can be helpful. Don’t settle for an upside down life when you can live right side up. Feel free to post any comments about turning your life right side up.
Reflection – Are you going through an upside down time in your life? Try the little name exercise listed above to refocus and the positives in your life. Be open to outside help from a professional if you are going through a major difficulty. Don’t let fear or pride stop you from seeing a Counselor or Coach in your area.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
As a Bookhead, this week is one of my favorite weeks. It is National Library week. Since my early experiences with Summer library reading programs in my hometown of Barberton, Ohio libraries have been important to me. It was the library that opened up a love of learning in their Summer reading program. One reason I improved as a student in my early years I owe to my mother pushing me to be involved in reading throughout the year, books from the library. We were on the lower income spectrum so the library was a great place to gets books since I could not buy them.
The local library was also my first job as well throughout my time in high school. As I later moved to college my work through college jobs bounced back between working at the campus library or janitorial work. So I am thankful for that aspect of the library in my life.
I am looking forward to finishing my PhD dissertation so I can be more involved in reading a variety of books from my local library. Right now the Capella University online library has been my rich source of journal articles for my dissertation preparation.
At the American Library Association website there is a link for Library week: http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek there they state the Library week began in 1958. That was a good year as that was when I was born. Each year they have a theme and this year it is “Libraries Transform”. If you click on the preceding link you can go to their website and learn more information about the week.
As I reflect on the theme “Libraries Transform” I can truly see that in my own life. I am thankful I had positive teachers in my foundational years in elementary school. Yet I can see how the Summer reading programs at Barberton Public library transformed me in broadening my love of reading. That then had a spiraling effect over the years in my critical and creative thinking to propel me to improve my academics over the years. My belief in the importance of lifelong learning stems from the transformation in growing a love of reading which started with my mother introducing me to the library.
The Capella university library has been a helpful resource in finding journal articles on my dissertation research. The librarians there have been helpful during my coursework providing ideas on expanding my research topics in gathering the hundreds of articles needed. On the Capella Library website they show how they transform students: “The Capella University Library helps Capella learners transform by:
• Answering more than 8,800 questions from learners each year.
• Providing access to 56,000 journals and 193,000 books in our library.
• Performing 1,400 individual consultations with learners about their dissertation research each year.”
I know I have asked them questions over my years of study there. An attribute found in librarians is that they are helpful. Some of the best customer service I have seen over the years has been found in those who work in libraries.
When I looked at the website for my local New Braunfels Library I noticed their mission statement: “To provide the community with equal access to physical and virtual environments that support and encourage lifelong learning and enrichment.” That statement is a year round commitment to the National Library week theme of “Libraries Transform”. Helping people to think about living the best life possible; which is one basic thought behind my blog and my book, Living More Than OK; is seen in the desire to encourage lifelong learning. A person who is involved in their local library will never live a dull life as they are continually being enriched by the knowledge and the power of story that can be found in opening up the mind and spirit found from reading books.
Do you feel like you need some transforming in your life? Stop by your local library and search for a fiction or nonfiction book to start the transformation.
Reflection: What does the library mean to you? What
thoughts or memories come to mind in thinking over the theme “Libraries Transform”? Check out this website www.ilovelibraries.org/librariestransform/get-involved to see how you can be more involved with your local library.
Sunday, April 3, 2016
I have recovered and caught up some since my comprehensive exams for my Ph.D., so I thought I would move back to writing in my blog. I realize with life one never fully gets caught up so I decided to keep moving forward. One of the activities I have been doing recently during my recouping phase is helping prepare our Spring/Summer garden here in Texas. The garden is something my wife enjoys so my daughter and I help her with the preparation and harvesting.
Growing up in Ohio my mother and father planted a large vegetable garden. My dad would grow sweet potatoes almost as big as a football. When he died my mom moved us in with our grandmother and she even had more land for gardening and that garden provided much of the yearly food supply. So our present home gardening of the past few years brings back fond memories of growing up helping my mom in the garden.
For the most part these past few years while I have been working on my doctorate, my college teaching, and counseling; the garden has been run mostly by my wife. I am just starting my dissertation so after that is finished I will be more involved in the gardening. Preparing the garden in tilling the soil, planting and pruning our fruit trees has been a helpful relaxing diversion while I have been recovering from the stress of the exam I went through.
Gardening also provides times for families to work together. The above picture shows the garden pathway my daughter and wife laid out the other day. It was hard work for them but after their work they enjoyed a steak dinner of which I was not a part of since I was working on reports the whole day. The picture also gives an idea of the garden we tilled and planted a couple of weeks ago. We have a variety of tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, cucumbers, Swiss Chard, collard greens, Mumbai spinach as well as herbs and other vegetables. We all worked together to get the garden going then pray for success as we never know what Texas weather will bring.
The work that goes into gardening provides an appreciation of farmers in our country and around the world that provide us with food. Our home garden has helped with the food bill but we are definitely not self-sufficient. The battle with weeds and watching over the need for watering is work. It is hard to imagine the level of work that goes on the grand scale of large family farms that provide the world’s food supply.
Outside of the hard work there is amazement and wonder in watching the plants grow. Some of our plants were from seeds. The wonder is in seeing the green shoots breaking up through the ground and before we know it the plant is blooming with flowers that become the vegetables. The development is an amazing wonder of creation. How did the various plants develop? Why are there so many varieties instead of just a few plants that we would be stuck eating? Kind of makes one wonder who or what is behind such amazing wonders doesn’t it?
Whether it is just a few herbs and tomatoes on a patio or a small raised garden give Spring planting a try. If you are benefited with a larger piece of land use some of that land for a garden. It will save you dollars at the grocer and teach your family the hard work that goes into growing produce. As you watch the development of the plants, you may also be caught up in the wonder of watching creation in an amazing way. Then of course the best part is harvesting the fruits and vegetables and using them in your salads and cooking at home.
Reflection: How thankful are you for the farmers who provide the bountiful supply of food you enjoy at your local market and grocer? Try this Spring to either just do a few plants if you are in an apartment or try a small raised garden in your yard. Reflect on the amazing variety in the vegetables, fruits and flowers. Why do you think there is such variety? Does it amaze you?