Frances 0. Thomas

National Certified Counselor

Help the new prof

skills

 

For the first time, I will be teaching a class at out local community college for the fall term. It is called Cornerstone here, and is the basic freshman success class that is now mandatory in many schools.

I’m looking for suggestions from experienced teachers on activities and resources I can use besides lectures. I want to keep the students engaged.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering are time management, diversity, critical thinking, financial literacy, and careers.

What about it, fellow educators? Any ideas you’d like to share?

Grow where you’re planted

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I confess it was never my intention to live in Florida. Yet nearly two decades later, I am still here. Moreover, I live on a relatively rural island a good drive away from the nearest city. I grew up and lived my whole life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. If there was ever a fish out of water, I’m it.

When I spotted Melody Warnick’s book This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, i grabbed it off the shelf. Maybe I could find some helpful advice within.

Warnick’s issue was a little different from my own. She had moved multiple times, never feeling at home in any of her locations. When her professor husband got a job in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, she resolved to find out what leads people to feel attached to their town or city.

Her extensive research led to some practical suggestions. The first is to walk whenever possible to get a sense of place. That one is only marginally doable for me. I can’t really walk to any destinations, just within my immediate neighborhood. Doing that, however, would accomplish another tactic, getting to know my neighbors. In the time we’ve lived here, people have moved away or died, and we’ve never made the acquaintance of their replacements.

Warnick’s other advice includes volunteering and doing something creative. I do those things  but in the nearby city, not on the island. Doing activities most other residents find pleasurable won’t work for me. I’ve never fished and never will.

My one gold star is that I do try to patronize local businesses.

Is there hope for me? Like Warnick, should I push myself a bit more? Do you feel at home where you live? Why?

 

 

 

 

 

Another kind of segregation

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I have recently made my first foray into the world of fiction. My contemporary romantic novella The Lady Is a Mayor is set in a highly fictionalized version of the place where I actually live. The story involves a disagreement between townspeople who are in favor of economic growth and those who are determined to protect the environment. My book is a comedy, so it ends with the standard happily ever after. In real life, this isn’t often the case.

William Chopik, a psychology prof at Michigan State University, has published a study that indicates living among those whose viewpoint you don’t share can affect your personality. If you are on the Trump train and all your neighbors are Hillary supporters, you may distrust them so much that you withdraw from relationships.

Chopik says his findings could explain why many Americans seem to be consolidating into heavily red or blue geographic areas. This may also explain political gridlock. If you never communicate with anyone different, you don’t learn how to compromise.

Racial segregation is technically a thing of the past, but its implications are far from gone. Maybe we also need to take a look at political segregation.

 

 

Don’t rely on Prince Charming

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A study done by Hiroshima University (and by the way how ironic is that?) says that Japanese women still expect that their spouse will one day take charge of their retirement finances. Even if they are currently not even in a relationship. The same thought process has also been identified in American women.

The researchers studied data from an insurance company retirement savings plan, the Japanese equivalent to a 401(k). Women and men understood retirement options equally, yet women assumed a “Prince Charming” would make the decisions, or worse, that it would all work out somehow.

Since women earn less money to begin with and then live longer in retirement, the decision to make no decision can have big implications on how comfortable their eventual retirement will be.

I was feeling all superior about this until I remembered that my husband handles all our finances.

C’mon ladies. It’s time to educate ourselves about economic matters. Suze Orman, are you listening?

 

Delayed gratification=weight loss

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I just read yet another study with fairly self-evident results. This one is from McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare of Hamilton. They found that folks with ADHD and folks who are obese share an inability to delay gratification. This apparently is true of those with any addictive behavior.

Really? Do you mean to tell me I am fat because I can’t turn down a cookie? Duh.

The researchers say that clinical approaches to weight loss should focus more on the long term benefits. I think we all know perfectly well the long term benefits already. But that doesn’t stop us.

I’m thinking this is also a function of will power’s being a finite capacity. For example, I managed to get through grad school with little difficulty but gained 20 pounds in the process if I recall correctly. Should I have focused on denying myself the extra calories and blown off my studies?

Does it have to be an either-or situation?

 

 

 

Brain clutter

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Oh, man. It’s not enough that I have to worry about clutter in my house. Now I have to worry about clutter in my brain.

According to a study done at Georgia Institute of Technology, older people lack confidence in what they remember because their brains have absorbed not only what they focused on but also non-essential info, i.e., clutter-what other conversations were taking place around them, what music was playing.

Younger folks apparently don’t have this problem. Their brains don’t store the irrelevant details in the first place.

The researchers point out that this can be particularly problematic for seniors if someone tries to scam them. They can be convinced they have forgotten something that never took place.

I feel a little ambivalent about all of this. As a writer, I would think that the ability, albeit unconscious, to note more details would be an advantage, not a detriment. Is this a function purely of having lived longer and having more backstory to connect new material to? Do we become less sure of everything as we age just because we’re increasingly aware of how little we really know?

Still searching for meaning

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I love the results of a recent study done by researchers at the University of Sussex and the University of Greenwich It confirms that bosses have virtually nothing to do with how meaningful employees feel their jobs are. Viktor Frankl had the right of it. Meaning only comes from within.

The researchers interviewed 135 people in ten jobs ranging from priest to garbage collector. They found that people feel they have meaning as a fellow human being; it’s personal.

This can happen when others find what they do matters.  They label this self-transcendent.

The feeling can occur in a situation that is uncomfortable or even painful, what they term poignant

Purpose is not a constant. It is episodic and comes and goes according to circumstances. It also takes a while before we realize that something meaningful has happened upon reflection.

Bosses get in the way when they interfere with employees’ values, judgment, or supporting relationships.

Dr. Adrian Madden of Greenwich’s business school says organizations that master this concept will have greater success in attracting and retaining their best employees.

That only makes sense, right? Who wants to go to work every day thinking “What’s the point?” Why is it so hard for companies to get this?

Exercise with a buddy

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Many years ago. I bought a Pilates machine from QVC. I used it religiously when it was new. Then, as these things go, I got out of the habit. The machine languished on a screened in porch here in Florida and the rollers deteriorated.

Well, I got re-motivated so I ordered new rollers. My husband and I managed to remove the crumbling old ones and attach the new ones, all without causing each other any bodily harm, a feat of which we are both proud.

After copious applications of WD40, the machine is working pretty well. Now, I am again exercising under the observation of a gecko. Poor creature can’t quite figure what is going on. He wouldn’t be my first choice as an exercise buddy. He is not nearly as much fun as the one in the commercials. No witty repartee.

Do you have an exercise buddy?

 

 

 

 

 

Delusional

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Self-awareness is such a rare commodity.

I like to think that I am just a little out of shape. This morning, I decided to take a spin on my bike and soon learned how badly I have been fooling myself.

Mind you, I have the old-fashioned kind of bike. No gears or hand brakes for me. Still, I live in Florida, so my route is flat. Piece of cake, right?

First I had to pump up the tires since it has been so long since I rode it. Then I set out wobbling down the block, pedaling slowly.

I lasted about ten minutes before I had to head for home. My legs were all but shaking. Yikes!

Now, according to Web MD, short bouts of exercise, like. for example, ten minutes here and there, are effective. Let’s hope so.

 

 

Propel yourself to marketing success

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I am no stranger to marketing; I’ve done it in both the for-profit and non-profit arenas. Yet even this old dog learned a few tricks in Propel: Five Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing and Accelerate Business by Whitney Keyes. If you, on the other hand, are a newcomer to the field, her five marketing principles lay out everything you need to know very clearly. They apply equally to big business, small business, and even personal branding.

Keyes breaks it all into five sections aspects: strategy, story, strength, simplicity, and speed.

A lot of thinking goes into marketing before you ever take any actions. The Strategy section thoroughly defines the basics: mission, vision, values, and SMART goals and objectives. Keyes also covers SWOT analysis, how to do market research, and what to do with the information you discover.

Keyes talks about the process of branding and finding target audiences in her Story section.

Strength comes through developing and then leveraging authentic relationships with customers as well as collaboration and alliances with other businesses and with the media.

Simplicity is the result of focus on priorities and setting action plans to avoid wasting time and money.

Speed is not only about being able to move quickly to take advantage of opportunities but also being able to judge quickly whether your actions are getting the right results.

What I particularly liked about Propel are the numerous examples all along the way from Keyes’ own career and clients. These clarify the concepts she offers and demonstrate how they work in real life.

If you need a crash course in marketing or just a refresher, you will find it in Propel.

 

whitney

Over the past 20 years, Whitney Keyes has worked as a senior Microsoft manager, strategic adviser for American Express and a marketing consultant to thousands of individuals and organizations around the world. She is a member of the National Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. Whitney was a winner of the Small Business Administration’s Women in Business Champion of the Year Award for Washington State.

Whitney serves as a professor and fellow for the Center for Strategic Communications at Seattle University and guest lectures for the University of Washington and other academic institutions. She teaches Global Reputation Management and related marketing communication courses. She also manages a consulting practice, delivers keynotes and facilitates workshops for organizations including the Small Business Administration and Port of Seattle.

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