Category Archives: Personal Growth

Class Announcement — You Can!

You Can–Raise Cash As A Crop!

This fast-paced, participative program will explore the opportunities we all have for “non-traditional” ways of raising cash through cost avoidance, part time work, cash crops from your farm, garden and hobbies. You may want to start a home-based business… or just explore the value of bartering with friends and neighbors. When your wallet’s almost empty, this course will encourage you to open your mind and develop a plan…

Tuesday, March 13th at 6:30 PM at SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft. Course fee is only $10. Register by calling the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative at 564-6525 or register online.


Check out the entire series of “You Can” courses at the PVAEC website! You’ll find lots of “traditional skills” courses regarding food preservation, seed starting, raising backyard chickens… a great program of practical and affordable classes made possible through a collaboration between PVAEC and the UMaine County Extension Service in Piscataquis County.

Grab Some Tissues…

And watch this video. Please.

http://www.flickspire.com/m/HPP/MakeADifference

All the way to the end. I’m not going to do a spoiler, but I will tell you that part-way through I found myself thinking how hard I wished people could realize that it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in a child’s life. But in the end, that wasn’t the point.

Origins of the Specious

I recently finished the book “Origins of the Specious” by Patricia O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman (Random House 2010). Subtitled “Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language,” it was truly a fun read.  Unless you think etymology is about the study of eyties, you might enjoy it as well. (Etymology is the study of the history of words.) I also happen to enjoy a good word play–and this book starts with one right in the title.

It did take me a while to finish, because I chose to digest it in small bites. Not only was it informative, the writing is great. Watch this.

In the chapter “Snow job” the authors dispel the notion that there are dozens (or hundreds, depending on your version) of words for snow in the Eskimo language. Some dependable sources list four, one got to seven in 1940. (Wait for it!) The authors point out, “In the decades since then, the number or words has snowballed with each retelling…”  Another paragraph notes there has been an “avalanche of snow stories.”

So while I’m recommending the book, I’m also willing to concede that not everyone will fully enjoy or appreciate the topic or the writing… but if you’ll visit http://www.grammarphobia.com/ you can learn more about several books they’ve written… and visit their blog for some “tastes” of etymology that will impress your friends at dinner parties.

Happy What?

“To hear someone say ‘Happy Turkey Day’ makes me sad because they have nothing to be thankful for and no one to whom to be thankful.”

Robert Flatt

It’s that time of year again when the language police come out! I’ve already seen a few people crusading in favor of saying “Merry Christmas” and NOT saying “Happy Holidays.” (I’ve always conjured up this image of some one saying, “Peace on earth, goodwill to men… but don’t you dare say ‘Happy Holidays’ to me. I’m a CHRISTMAS and there’s nothing that irritates me more…”

Language is a funny thing.

Considering the above quote, Thanksgiving wishes may be next to come under attack. Personally, I don’t care too much what you wish me as long as it’s positive.

Happy People Day!

I’d like to think people come up with things like “Happy Turkey Day!” in an effort to be different–not because they have nothing to be thankful for. After all, how many times this week have you heard a traditional wish? A cheery wish for a happy turkey day seems reasonable. (Unless, of course, you’re the turkey.)

How about “Happy Pilgrim Day?” That’s different! I could whip out my language police badge and suggest that we really should say “days,” not “day.”  Afterall,  a lot of people have Thursday and Friday off. At least one version of the original celebration suggests that it was a three day harvest festival involving some fifty colonists and ninety indians.

My fear is that people are starting to think that Thanksgiving is scheduled to make it possible to start the Christmas Season. How great is it that we get a day or two off about a month before Christmas? That way we have some time to drag out the decorations, put up the tree, and do some serious shopping.

My wish for you? Have a happy harvest festival–a few days when the routines change just a little, but there’s an overriding celebration and sense of “harvest.” I hope you become acutely aware of the bounty–the things you have had, the things you have, the possibilities before you–not just for a few silent moments before dinner tomorrow, but for at least a few days.

My Brain Is Too Small

A second grader recently warned me that he didn’t think he was a very good reader. When I probed the reason for his conclusion he told me in very adult terms, “I do fine at home but when I get to school… my brain is too small! There are just too many words and things to learn!”

I wanted to reply, “I know how you feel.”

Later I stumbled onto this article:

How much of learning time is spent NOT learning, do you suppose?

In order to learn, people need time to think, to process, to question and explore. Great companies like Google know this to be true and give their workers permission simply to think or explore 20% of the time. Thanks to this 20% time, Gmail and Google News were created.

What if we allowed 20% time in our learning environments? For every hour of learning time, we allot 12 minutes for our learners to work with the topic on their own? They might go to a quiet meditative room to review their notes. They might go out on the floor and see concepts in action. They might do further research on the topic such as what industries are already using it (whatever it might be). Whatever they choose, it would not be prescribed. It would  simply be reflective, processing time… When it comes to learning, less is more is an adage that holds true.

(c) 2011 The Training Doctor, LLC  http://www.trainingdr.com

An interesting suggestion… but it’s not just about training. Thanks to technology we can multitask. How many times have you carried on a conversation with someone who’s punching the screen of their smart phone?  If it’s safe to do so, count how many drivers you encounter who are NOT talking on a cell phone. 

Next time I read with my second grade buddy I may suggest that the problem is not that his brain is too small. Perhaps it’s just that his brain is too busy. (During our reading time I suggested we’d take it slow–one word at a time if necessary– and discovered that he’s actually a pretty good reader.)

Whether we are learning or living,  a little “down time” isn’t such a bad idea. Take time to process  and explore. One of my favorite brain/thinking researchers was Ned Hermann. He used to describe sitting in his recliner and approaching a “theta”  rhythm characterized by a drowsy, meditative, or sleeping state. If his wife called out to him to take out the trash or perform some other task he’d reply, “Not now, dear. I’m working.”

Reflection, exploration… these are activities with at least as much value as writing or talking or punching the screen of your smart phone. Allow yourself time to do them and you may discover that your brain is bigger than you thought.