Friday, April 28, 2017
This week's article from Inc. is no exception. "Want to Raise Successful Kids? Make Sure to do This" shares advice from Grit author Angela Duckworth. Duckworth's advice?
Show them what you want them to become.
Or, as I've said often this semester, common sense and psychology meet. And they agree.
So simple, and yet so difficult. Duckworth, a professor at University of Pennsylvania and a leading voice in the field of positive psychology, shares a few other insights in the article as well, mostly from the perspective of a mom.
In other news, because I found this funny, but it didn't quite rise to the level of a Friday Feature, here's something every household with folks over 50 should have.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
When e-books first emerged onto the scene, many predicted they wouldn't last. No technology, no matter how wonderful, could replace the feel and smell of a beautiful, brand new book. E-books (E) might be a nice diversion, but they'd never overtake traditional (T) books.
To be honest, I was one of the skeptics, and, when it comes to certain books, I still am. I used to have rules -- non-fiction (e-book) vs. fiction (traditional book), books I'll end up donating (E) vs. books I want to keep (T), books I want to take to the beach or with me when I travel (E) vs. books that will stay home. I might dabble in e-books, but my heart belonged with Team T.
As an author, I feel strongly about making my books available in both formats because readers face many of the same dilemmas I do. Should I get a paperback I can get signed? Buy the e-book because it's 99¢ this week? Do I have a place to store something that will take up more space than a simple computer file?
In the end, as both author and reader, I've decided to go with a sentiment I've felt all along: the more books I have, the better.
And any format that makes that possible is fine with me.
Monday, April 24, 2017
At the top of the deck for each class is what I call the "orientation slide," which tells my students what we're covering that day (a sometimes overly optimistic list), what they should be reading and what's coming up. I've gotten into the habit of adding a visual component to this slide in the form of a meme or photo in the upper left hand corner (much as I do here), both to balance out the text and to lighten the to-do list burden a bit.
Because I teach child and adolescent development, the visual is often a cute kid photo, but sometimes, especially toward the end of the semester, I aim for encouragement and inspiration. Toward that end, I posted the graphic above from the Live Happy website on last week's slides. Later today, I'll be on the hunt for something for tomorrow's slides.
Those of you who know me in real life know that I'm usually a pretty positive person -- someone who can find a reason to smile in most circumstances. Lately, though, that's been a challenge. I still have all of the usual things to be grateful for, but in the midst of them, my mom is sick and the realities of her illness have come crashing down around me. Despite my firm belief in the value of optimism, my smiles took a hiatus last week, and I had to borrow a few from those who were willing to share.
We all go through those periods -- those times when it seems as though even pasting on a fake smile is too much work. If we're lucky, we have people around us who understand -- people who share their smiles, hugs and patience with us when we feel as though we're out of all three. Ironically, that, more than anything, should provide us with a reason to smile.
But sometimes, we have to take matters into our own hands.
So, if your Monday is gray and rainy -- literally, figuratively or both -- try to find your smile. If you can't manage to dig one up, get out there and borrow one, whether it's from the person who holds the door for you at the grocery store, the barista who makes your coffee or the dumb joke you hear on the radio. If your smile remains elusive -- and some days it will -- and all you can manage is soaking in someone else's grin, go ahead. Borrow freely and often. Just remember that someday, it will be your turn to return the favor.
But take your time. Smiles are always in season. And wherever you go, you're likely to find someone who needs one.
Friday, April 21, 2017
It didn't stick.
The first year looked a lot like retirement, with a few community ed classes (as an instructor) and some writing thrown in. But before the academic year ended, I got another teaching offer, one that turned into a second career.
I don't really mind. In fact, I'm thrilled. I never expected to be retired in the traditional sense at 51, and finding a second career I loved as much as the one I'd left was a wonderful surprise.
Whether for financial reasons, or just to keep things interesting, many of us work in retirement, sometimes even establishing a second career.
Wondering if it's time for a change? In her article "How to Keep Working into Your Sixties and Beyond," Kerry Hannon shares 5 rules to keep working and to switch careers.
Because sometimes, change is good.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
|Photo: SCY via Pixabay|
In addition to being a fun read, the article got me thinking. As a writer, do I feel as though writing fiction provides any of those same benefits?
Enhanced reasoning skills? Check! Having to figure out how to get my characters into -- and out of -- a variety of situations definitely requires reasoning skills. Then, once I've done this, I need to decide whether or not my readers will find all of this believable, which requires me to reason from the other side of the equation.
Understanding of complex problems? Creating complications is one of the most fun parts of writing fiction, and this is the part where my characters tend to chime in. Determining the answer to the question, "what if this happened?" is a key element in the construction of plot, and is usually guaranteed to make things more complex.
Empathy? Last week, I wrote about how writers need to be able to imagine and defend people who are different from them, which is an important part of empathy. Doing this for characters we love is easy; doing it for characters with few redeeming qualities is definitely a stretch -- one that can move us from sympathy to empathy.
Stress relief? Only when I'm finished! Actually, when writing is going well (usually when I'm writing dialogue), it's a great, stress-free feeling. Overcoming the obstacles between me and the keyboard, or between me and the characters, or between me and the blank page is definitely more stress-inducing than stress-relieving.
|Photo: Dariusz Sankowski via Pixabay|
Clearly, the fundamental things apply, whether reading a book or writing one.
Read it again, Sam.
Monday, April 17, 2017
|Photo: Alexa's Photos via Pixabay|
The weekend was relaxing, and unremarkable in terms of activity. Dinner with friends. A trip to Target to replenish our cupboards with foods she likes. Easter dinner.
But she was home. We fell once again, all too easily, into our rhythm as a family of three, only to reach Monday morning.
Time to take her back.
In my head, Pink keeps singing "Please Don't Leave Me," and I wish she'd stop because she's not making this any easier. And it's raining and I really should get gas before we leave, but there's no time.
Never enough time.
The melodramatic thing to say would be that this never gets any easier, but that's not quite true, We've adjusted to her life as a young adult, and are immeasurably proud of all that she's doing, and, most of the time, we're all just fine.
But the goodbyes? Those begin as a heartache the night before she leaves and morph, after she's gone, into an emptiness much bigger than the space she actually takes up when she's here. The emptiness gradually subsides as we readjust, so that each adjustment period is just a little shorter than the one that came before.
In a few weeks, we'll be on the other side of that adjustment, making space at home for all of the trappings of freshman year, settling into a summer unlike any before. Her first month at home is largely booked, a harbinger of the comings and goings destined to punctuate the summer. Work and play, trips and group chats, family time and quiet time.
The ingredients of summer. I can hardly wait.
Friday, April 14, 2017
But in the summer, I make it a point to read novels. As a writer who's picky about the way words play out on a page, I discard quite a few books before I find "the one" that pulls me in and dares me to stop reading.
And, oh, how wonderful that is.
I know I'm not alone. Still, it's always nice to find support for this pursuit, especially in unexpected places, like Fast Company's article, "Five Ways Reading Fiction Makes You Better at Your Job."
Far less didactic than it sounds, the article briefly touches on how things like reasoning ability and empathy are strengthened by the simple process of reading a book. Kind of like having your cake and eating it too.
Definitely not a bad way to spend a weekend.