Benevolence.

Something wonderful happens when we give from the heart. True monetary philanthropists give freely in exchange for an experience in helping others achieve their financial goals. But not everyone has extra money lying around. Even so, we can give freely what we do possess: A smile will warm someone’s heart. A good thought or an offer of blessings helps the giver feel a gratitude that seems to transcend throughout the universe. A hug can be received and given since human touch is a necessity for each of us. Share a laugh by telling a good joke. Perhaps you can offer a service of some kind like walking a dog or providing a nutritious meal to an ill neighbor. A merciful act toward someone in debt to you for a favor or monetary transaction releases the bondage debt creates.

Whatever we can do without looking for reward is benevolence. Aren’t you grateful for people like this in your life? Sometimes, even a random act of kindness to a stranger will brighten the giver’s and the receiver’s day.

Pay it forward with random actions of kindness. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in line or offer to pay for someone’s groceries. You never know who might need your offering that day. Have you ever been the recipient of such a kind, unexpected gift? I hope you have. The experience can be most humbling, yet inspiring. Gifts come in all types of packages; they don’t have to cost much at all, they just need to come from the heart. Make someone’s day by showing some gratitude for the things you possess and sharing them with another.

Joy,

Cheryl

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Berries

Inflammation:

“Reduce inflammation to treat the root of many issues. If your gut isn’t working right it can cause so many other issues.”
~ Jay Woodman

I recently found out that Bob Nielsen, a dear professor from my undergraduate years, and part of the reason I started this blog, passed away. He had struggled with prostate cancer for years, as well as diabetes. I remember watching as he checked his sugar during our independent study session that followed the lunch hour. One of the things he mentioned that his wife allowed him to eat for a snack or dessert was “graham crackers and cream cheese; oh boy”, he would say as he tried to drum up some enthusiasm. Prostate cancer is an inflammatory disease. A study done by Sfanos and DeMarzo (2012) provides some evidence that inflammation is to blame. “There are multiple different lines of evidence suggesting that inflammation is very common within the adult prostate” (para 4). One can imagine that inflammation has its hand in other diseases too, including diabetes. We have all had injuries when inflammation took over and helped us heal. Chronic inflammation moves in when the body’s immune system overloads because it cannot rid the cause of the initial swelling. Sometimes stress is a major factor in the inability to overcome inflammation. Known as the fight or flight response from our parasympathetic nervous system, our bodies gear up to escape from that bear or lion. These days, the bear or lion is replaced by sitting in the hot-seat of an office desk with loads of work, though it is not an immediate threat. If the perceived threat has no relief, the body has trouble eliminating the adrenaline and translates it into stress. That stress creates inflammation in the body.

Chronic stress is a terrible condition because when there is no outlet for the build-up, the body cannot help but create inflammation as its response to stress, whether real or imagined. The body only understands feelings. It cannot determine if the pressure is real or something we see on television as we sit in a theater watching gory or horror films. However, some adrenaline is good. We need it to get out of the way in traffic, for instance. But everyday stress from a job is detrimental to health.

Let’s look at some of the ways we can help our bodies cope with stress overload. Sometimes the help of a medical professional is needed; but you may want to try some of these remedies first.

Anti-inflammatory Foods:
Harvard studies indicate that certain foods will help fight inflammation. Certain foods should also be avoided. And if you have been paying attention to good health, that food list will not come as a surprise. Think about what your grandmother and grandmother’s mother would have eaten and follow those rules.

Foods that fight for you are:

* Green leafy vegetables
* Some fruits – berries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
* Nuts and seeds
* Fatty fish
* Olive oil
* Tomatoes

While Harvard lists tomatoes as anti-inflammatory, it’s one of those foods considered a night shade – think eggplant, potatoes, peppers – which may cause inflammation in some people. I react differently when eating them; I notice right away when my knee begins to ache. I feel better both in my joints and in my mood when I stick to these types of foods. Another thing that Harvard has left out is the importance of fermented foods. Improving the health of the gut can combat chronic inflammatory diseases with proven results. Gut health enables the body to eliminate toxins like pesticides common in commercially produced food today.

Herbs and Spices:
One of my favorite public figures, Dr. Mercola, has a terrific website with great deal of information regarding health. He lists clove, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric (curcumin) as the best herbs to use. Starting out slowly with these as a daily regime is a good way to start.

I take turmeric supplement for my aching knee. It has been one of the most beneficial herbs for me. It’s actually a root, similar to the ginger family. Check out your local grocer. You might find it there in its original form now that it has become popular. Funny how that happens.

Spices to use include:

* Cinnamon (ceylon)
* Jamaican Allspice
* Apple pie spice mixture
* Oregano
* Pumpkin pie spice mixture
* Marjoram
* Sage
* Thyme
* Gourmet Italian spice

Dr. Mercola lists these specifically to help us boost our resistance to inflammation by adding these to our own recipes. When it’s easy to do, people will do it. Start with one or two today.

Essential Oils:
Essential oils are also recognized to help combat inflammation. In a study of lab rats, rosemary, eucalyptus, and ginger essential oils reduced episodes of edema; the latter two reduced effects from the ingestion of carrageenan, a common ingredient in commercial yogurts and ice cream. You might want to scout out this ingredient and remove it from your diet. I found too many tests in my search that aim to fight its inflammatory side effects.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine comments that essential oils are used as therapies because the nose first detects the scents. The sensors recognize the chemical compounds of the oil, then work on the limbic system as effectively as a drug (PDQ, 2014). Certain combinations from fragrant plants demonstrate relief from stress and improve the quality of life. Two of my favorites are Stress Away and lavender from Young Living essential oils. Lavender is one of the most popular scents, often found in baby products since its affect is almost immediate. You can create your own uplifting scents like the combination of cinnamon bark, peppermint, and cedarwood that I use when I need to stay calm yet alert while driving in heavy traffic. You can breathe away the stress in your life too.

Grounding:
While not commonly known as grounding, using the effects of the earth on our bodies is an amazing way to de-stress. Countless studies and feedback are addressed in the book Earthing. The subtitle says it all. Is Earthing really a new heath discovery? Hardly. People have walked barefoot on the earth for thousands of years. But lately we have disconnected, so to speak. Our high-rise buildings and the invention of the rubber sole shoe promote the separation between us and the earth. The text demonstrates the electrical effects and relationship between humans and the earth, provides a list of the benefits of getting our feet back on the earth, and provides compelling thermal imagery after grounding. Page 63 shows a list of diseases caused by inflammation. It’s not surprising that other chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma, diabetes, lupus, and MS are on this list. Pain is listed too.

We all have pain of some sort. Think of it… just coming in contact with the earth on a regular basis can help us. You see, lowering the EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) is imperative. We are surrounded by constant waves of energy; over time, people who do not ground with the earth are susceptible to “infection, stress, and degenerative diseases” (Ober, Sinatra, & Zucker, 2010, p. 79). Earthing helps to move that EMF off of us.

Think of the last time you were at the beach and played in the ocean or other body of water. Recall the feelings of peace, relaxation, and regeneration. What about the last time you walked in the yard to feel the grass under your feet? Doing so is completely free, but so few of us do it. At the very least, Ober has invented a way to gain similar effects from placing a ground in the earth. Your kitchen and bathroom electrical outlets have a ground to the earth. By using this part of the plug, Ober created grounding mats, mattresses, pillowcases, and the like to help you absorb the earth’s ground as you work and sleep. The grounding mat is great when the air becomes dry in the winter months. Static electricity can wreak havoc when doing laundry or just walking on a carpet. I am using a grounding mat as I type. The sweat from the bottoms of my bare feet help create the ground and move the EMF off of me when I work. Aside from the turmeric I use, grounding has helped when my knee was so inflamed I had trouble walking.

BeachBest

Being pain free is something we all desire. Consider these methods to reduce the stress and inflammation in your life. Tell a friend.

Joy,
Cheryl

References

Ober, C., Sinatra, S. T., & Zucker M. (2010). Earthing:The most important health discovery ever? Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

PDQ® Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. (2014). PDQ Aromatherapy and Essential Oils. [PMID: 26389261]. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/aromatherapy-pdq.

Sfanos, K. S. & DeMarzo, A. M. (2012). Prostate cancer and inflammation: The evidence. Histopathology 60(1), 199-215. doi 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.04033.x

May we find peace within ourselves so we may share it with others.
Joy, 

Cheryl 

Each new semester I start out with a positive outlook. I think about the new students, maybe some former ones as well. My syllabus is well-crafted, having paid copious attention to the details, assignments, and goals for the course – each element to build on the next new skill.

Students are enthusiastic and swarm about the classroom door waiting patiently to take their seats. Each is excited about the writing process, and enlightened by completed work and my constructive comments. They love the concepts they learn, applying them with ease. New skills are embedded into their newly acquired craft on a weekly basis. They long to cite their sources, and embrace the documentation as if giving credit is noble, almost heroic.

Reading and comprehension flourish. Incorporating another’s work into their own writing is now second nature. Each student leaves the course with a complete understanding of how to take their skills to the next level.

Ah, yes, it is a great dream – the kind of dream that keeps me coming back to the classroom, year after year.

Hmmm, the truth is, new names and faces can be difficult to remember at the start – I fumble through the pronunciations like an amateur. Seat hoppers become the most challenging. Why can’t that student stay in one spot? At my age, the students’ faces tend to look alike; they dress the same for the most part and hair styles are almost exact. The fashions have changed since I was in college. I wonder what they’ll be wearing this year.

It takes me a while to remember 140+ names; but around week 6, when the first papers are graded, I begin to gain a sense of who they are by their names – not quite yet by face. It’s easier when students actually speak up in class and feel comfortable sharing. Often, I’ll have a few who rarely look up or engage. Sometimes I remember the ones who sit way back from me because I tend to heckle them a bit and ask why they think I bite.

Part of my challenge is to remain authentic and build relationships with these young creatures from another time. I desire that they embrace their uniqueness and learn the confidence to determine their opinions – and speak about them. I do feel the standardized testing takes away some of their freedom to examine their own ideas and come to understand their biases.

I imagine that the students will absorb the reality of midterm grades and resolve to put forth the effort to see themselves through the course and finish better than they start. I anticipate they’ll see me as a coach, a supporter, rather than one who condemns. They’re early writers, I tell myself. I’m building a base.

I truly feel college success skills should be embedded into a freshman composition course. Students should seek the help of a tutor from start to finish for each paper. My comments and suggestions should promote revisions that demonstrate they’ve learned something. I need to keep the dream alive, don’t I?

As an intellectual nurturer, my heart breaks when I see the greatness of those young minds – yet they do not recognize their potential. So I continue to try and pull it out of them and help them write. Keeping the dream alive.

Shaping – Gentle Nudging – Showing I Care.

Thanks for reading. My classes begin Monday morning with another new set of students who are headed for greatness.

Joy,

Cheryl

Ethics. Having been encouraged to memorize this definition, I decided to share it with you today. And I’m not quite sure why I have not shared it sooner. It was one of the first messages from my former mentor that resonated with me.

“Ethics is primarily the process of bringing out the implications of the choices we make, and of harmonizing these choices one with another.” ~Bob Nielsen

Process: Let’s break down the definition. First of all, it is a process. Processes take time. They require diligence.

Purpose: The purpose of ethics is to bring out the implications of the choices we make. Our choices have consequences. Do we have enough forethought to recognize or determine what might affect others with those decisions?

Conclusion: A result of ethics is that our choices include others’ ideas and mesh with them so they create an agreement.

Not everyone thinks like I do. In conversation and daily occurrences, I take into account what others say and attempt to understand, thereby aiming to create peace and oneness. It takes practice and resolve to create harmony with others. Practicing ethics isn’t easy, but worth the effort.

Are you practicing ethics today?

Joy,
Cheryl

As we ready ourselves for the upcoming fall semester, I thought I’d share some writing hacks for English Composition courses that use the MLA format of documentation styles.

These six hacks were put together mostly because a former student thought it was cool when I mentioned one of the techniques for lengthening a paper was a writing hack.

Students like the word, hack. So here goes:

6 Writing Hacks for Freshman Composition

1. Setting your Default Font and Size to Times New Roman, 12 pt takes up more room than the current default Calibri 11 pt. Times New Roman, size 12 simply takes up more space.

2. Using an MLA format takes up space on the very first page. Type: Student name ENTER; Professor name ENTER; Course Number ENG 101-1019 ENTER; Due Date written in Military Style 22 October 2017 ENTER; Set up the Title of the paper (Centered) ENTER. That’s five (5) lines already if you’ve Double-spaced your page.

3. Take up more real estate by introducing the quoted material you want to use by first 1) Summarize it, 2) add the quote, and 3) Discuss what the quote means for your paper in a couple of sentences. Be sure to use the correct in-text citation or parenthetical reference to avoid plagiarism.

4. Use a blocked quote of 40+ words for a longer quote to analyze in your paper. Be sure to use Hack #3. Don’t go over 50 words. Your analysis of the quote should be twice as long as the quoted material. Since these are limited in a paper, be sure to find something that needs a longer explanation for your paper.

5. Use the Ellipse to take out text in a quote you don’t want to use to keep your blocked quote to a minimum. Use the Hard Bracket when you do […]. The hard brackets indicate that this is Super Imposed Content and was not originally in the text you are quoting. When you see this sic in a text, understand this word means Super Imposed Content, not something that’s trying to psych you out. You can also use the hard brackets to make a sentence make sense. Ex: [S]he aspires to find the truth.

6. Add a bit of background information in your introduction paragraph to include information your reader might need to understand where your stance is coming from. It’s not a History or Biography, ever – unless, of course, you are writing a biography or history overview.

I hope these help add length to your college papers. Perhaps you can share these with a student you know.

Joy,

Cheryl

Short compilation video of the pictures and videos I took yesterday.
Joy,
Cheryl

Determination.

Today, I am grateful for the virtue determination.

I was able to finish grading papers today; but without determination to complete the job, I might have slacked or waited until the last minute. Students’ papers take time to read, and complete concentration is needed to accomplish the task. At the start of my task, I remember thinking to myself that I was bound and determined to work through the stack. The best way for me to do so is to read and grade the best papers last and focus my attention on the ones that would need the most work, so that I would not be exhausted if I chose to grade the best papers first.

How would I know which paper takes less time? Well, after spending an entire semester reading papers, I can determine which students need more help than others. So I stacked the pile accordingly. Staying firm in my purpose, I managed to complete the stack. I had made a decision earlier this term to only grade papers when I am rested and ready to tackle the work. I am pleased that I found myself less likely to become upset at the flaws in papers that I know I had explained all term. Early writers need room to improve. Over the years, I make it a point to create a comfortable learning environment for students which would allow them to make mistakes. It is through mistakes that students learn the ropes. Revision is an important part of the writing process. Students should be able to see a difference between a draft and a final piece worthy to turn in for a grade.

I am also grateful those students who completed the courses I taught this term. Their resolve to jump the hoops I set for them must be acknowledged. Most of them finished out the course with a paper that was well-organized and proved their points. It takes perseverance to complete an English course, even first level college writing classes. These courses set the foundation for future writing. I am proud of my students. And this term, the majority of them received grades above C, the average for students who suddenly realize the rigor of college writing is beyond what they were taught in high school. I am happy to say that I held them accountable, and I guided them to the next level. No longer do they think a paragraph should stop after five sentences – a rule that I had to help them break immediately. Yes, I feel good that they are ready to move on.

What does it take to demonstrate determination?
* Set your mind to the task at hand.
* Be sure that you’re well-rested before beginning.
* Allow enough time to take needed breaks.
* Stay focused on the task.
* Above all, complete the task to solidify the feelings of accomplishment.

Determination is a virtue because it takes inner-strength to achieve any goal. It takes persistence, but goals can be accomplished. Good luck.

Joy,

Cheryl

Atlantic Sunrise


Consideration:
Today, I am grateful for considerate people. Considerate people are those who see outside themselves, and show a general concern for others. They are not self-absorbed, nor do they lack the ability to deeply engage with others. These folks stay clear of the drama that often plays out around them. Instead, thoughtfulness prevails. We often notice when they hold the door open for others, or take into account possible negative outcomes before taking any actions.

5 Steps to harness this virtue:
1. Open your mind to the possibility that your actions have consequences.
2. Think about what could happen to others as a result of your choices.
3. Reflect on possible outcomes by asking if your actions will hurt or help others.
4. If your actions help others, go ahead and execute your plan. If your actions hurt others, refrain and find a better way.
5. Make this sequence a habit before making decisions.

Welcome to consideration. It is a virtue that must be honed. While not a fool-proof way to avoid negative outcomes, practicing consideration of others can lead to better relationships.

Joy,
Cheryl

Bravery

Today’s gratitude challenge is about Bravery. I began to think of all the common definitions of this term such as valor, courage, and fearlessness. I briefly recalled images of 15th Century Knights in battle. Why? I’m guessing this is the sort of thing we are taught as children. We read epic stories of the hero who must face some sort of danger, or we’ve watched too much television to make a clear determination for the definition. And then I asked myself if the average person can express bravery. I am certain of it; although I’m not exactly sure that some type of fear is not involved; for instance, when I was about to enter the hospital to allow a surgeon to deliver my daughter through cesarean section. I’m sure I wasn’t expressing the courage I hoped to have. Going under the knife was and is a scary prospect for any woman about to birth her first child. Anything can happen. Fortunately, for me, my doctor delivered her without any problems.

If I think back to that day, I was met with all sorts of procedures that would have left anyone frightened. At one point, I had to hold as still as possible, so that the spinal injection was completed accurately. Okay, but I couldn’t control the one performing the action. I’m sure my mind was conjecturing all sorts of woes had I moved or the needle suddenly slipped.

Later, as a mother, I faced many possible dangers. Raising a child is terrifying. Does that make me a brave person? I’m not so sure. What is brave is stepping up and fulfilling the role of a mother – working tirelessly to keep the child comfortable and secure. These are strategies that we are not taught. I fumbled my way through it all. Bravery is like that. We expand ourselves to do what is needed.

I’m not necessarily only speaking of motherhood. Many people face different types of demons every day – usually internal ones. We surmise what others might think of us. This fear can be paralyzing. Some of us would rather expire than to plunge into the fear that our thoughts create and keep us weak. Talk to people in sales who will explain the hours wasted because they could not pick up a telephone to call a prospective client. That fear of rejection runs deep.

Most don’t even think about the dangers around us. Starting a motor vehicle and driving in rush hour traffic takes bravery. What about beginning a new job? It takes a certain type of bravery to overcome new tasks and learn new names. Natural disasters seem commonplace these days. The news broadcasts are quick to show the devastating live footage.

How does one go about mustering up courage in times like these? Adrenaline might be one answer. Try these ideas instead:

* Aim to build up confidence by doing things that make you uncomfortable without any immediate danger
* Hone your skills in certain areas to help you do something you like, and do it well
* Believe in yourself – an area where we tend to demonstrate a deep, cavernous lack

And mostly, believe in yourself. Chances are, others believe in you and your abilities. It’s not hype.
Negative self-talk is detrimental to your well-being in all cases. Thank goodness we are not our thoughts.

Have faith; bravery is not elusive. You might surprise yourself someday. When you do, write it down. Tell some friends, and pat yourself on the back while you get ready to do more. Reward yourself if you need to.

These tactics will help build some resilient muscles.

My wish is that you become the best version of you.

Joy,

Cheryl