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 effect 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


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


Interestingly, this Earth Day’s post is about beauty. Take a look around. Beauty is everywhere – in trees, in dirt, in animals, in the sky, and in reflections in the water. It can sometimes be easy to overlook natural beauty when we are caught up in the stresses of everyday life. Leaves on the trees are miraculous things each with its own shape and color. Even evergreen needles are interesting to look at when viewed up-close. Lately, the spring weeds dominate the yard, yet the colors of their flowers are spectacular. It’s lovely to find these in the desert. Our yard has a lot of wild life as well – jack rabbits, cottontails, squirrels, wild horses, and plenty of birds. Our sky never disappoints for its crisp blue color and lenticular clouds. As far as I am concerned, all bodies of water are beautiful; when was the last time you explored a puddle? All this talk of beauty reminds me of an earlier post regarding beauty.

While it is wonderful to see the external beauty of nature in our surroundings, how often do we think of internal beauty? Outward appearances aren’t everything – especially when all we see is the surface. Today, I am also grateful for the the inner beauty of my friends and family. I challenge you to look beyond the surface. Authenticity is pure beauty, often expressed in laughter, or outwardly through caring and giving. This is where we find the depth within a person’s heart.

Let us all aim to express love in our spirits with our inner beauty.

Joy,
Cheryl

Accountability_wordle
Accountability.

Today’s Virtue is Accountability. For any challenge or self-improvement one undertakes, it is best to be held accountable to stay on track. Yesterday’s first post for my Gratitude Challenge: Using the Virtues started with Acceptance. When we are held accountable, we achieve much more than we expected. It forces us to drum up our essence, the excellence within, that we might pay less attention to when we think no one is watching. Many challenges I’ve participated in require a partner to ensure my goals are met. Much of the time, the community built around the challenges provide an equal push. I am grateful for all who share the same path during the challenges, especially the accountability partners. To ensure actions are completed, each of us must admit whether or not we have done the work. No fudging the truth; sometimes I must explain my actions, or lack of action during the challenges.

Each of us is accountable for what we do in life – it’s one of the more strict virtues in the list. It suggests that we are weak and tend to shirk responsibility. Ouch. I’ll admit to having let a goal or two dissolve during my lifetime. I don’t always fill the shoes I intend to fill. This blog might be one of them. Sometimes we can justify it by calling it choice. When I choose to write, I will. Or I might say that I need some inspiration to write. Well, where does that inspiration come from? It depends on what I want to achieve. What about setting goals to lose weight or write that book? It might be difficult to be inspired to live out a dream.

I am reminded of a poem by Langston Hughes, called “Harlem.” The first line asks the very question many of us ask, “What happens to a dream deferred?” Because this line is so famous, most people think the title should match. Without a community built around the same goals, we end up in the same place we started – with a dream without action.

For major goals in life, seeking out someone to partner with is extremely helpful. I’ve gone through some strict detoxes over the past couple of years. Without others who inspire me to make sure I’m drinking my green smoothie or walking 10,000 steps each day, the tasks seem too hard to accomplish on my own. A cheerleader on my side is a blessing. I feel stronger than ever to maintain my convictions for healthy living.

Does this mean that we cannot be accountable on our own? No. Not at all. Sometimes the goal is enough. Many people are certain that as long as we know why we want to achieve some major change, we will do it based on a strong will and determination. Thank goodness, perseverance is instilled in all of us at birth. We have heard about the many who have achieved great things. We are no different.

I am thankful to find the wonderful people in my networks who help me to be my best even when I don’t feel up to it. Be accountable; practice making it a habit. Find an accountability partner to ensure you meet your goals. In return, be an accountability partner who helps another achieve a goal.

Joy,
Cheryl

Boldly get on with your life.

Assertiveness is the virtue I am grateful for today. Do you know people who display a bold confidence in their behaviors or when they speak? They exude a confidence that is strikingly different than some of us. This virtue has a sister; it’s called ambition. When we are assertive, we possess a strong desire to accomplish our goals. No self-defeating actions exist for an assertive person.

Sometimes we need assertiveness in sales. Now, I’m not necessarily talking about product sales; we often need to sell ourselves first, especially if we are looking for work, being careful not to sound pushy. When I applied as a transfer student to D’Youville college, I showed my ambitious and assertive self. I knew what I wanted and had the audacity to tell the department chair my plans to withdraw my application if the college did not accept all my credits without condition. I was not unpleasant toward the person behind the desk; I just knew that my GPA was high enough to qualify, and felt much confidence in my accomplishments. Instead of complying to their conditions, I indicated my own. Needless to say, other professors heard about my interview and knew who I was before I attended any classes. One of these fine professionals was Bob Nielsen, whom I dedicated this blog.

Confidence is what makes the difference. If I had not asserted myself and my intentions, I might not have met all the wonderful people who later became my mentors. Confidence changes circumstances. Confidence changes us. Quite often, I look back and think that exuberance is needed in every aspect of life. It helps us to push boundaries and to step out of our comfort zones.
We cannot allow the negative stories in our minds, or our fears, to keep us from doing what we want – whether it be applying for a new job, talking to someone attractive, or asking for what we need or want out of life. So many times, we think things won’t work for us. How would we know until we try? Of course, my interview might not have gone the way I’d hoped it would, but I had to be less concerned about the outcome. I had to be myself. Sometimes I miss being a young girl when I had less fears. Perhaps, back then, I thought less of what people might think of me than I do now. When did my attitude change? When did I let this virtue escape me?

I think it’s time to recapture some of that confidence and assertiveness.

• Define the fear that holds you back
• Determine your desires
• Demonstrate your willingness to forget what others might think of you

I am grateful that assertiveness is never lost; they act quite like muscles. You’d need to work on them to build them up; but they never disappear, even after years of neglect.
Find and build your confidence today.

Joy,
Cheryl