Thursday, October 14, 2010

I have moved my blog to my website:

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Let me know if there are any topics that are of particular interest to you--my goal is to make my website a place where you can pick up some "little things" that will help you in your day-to-day life.

Monday, October 04, 2010


Last week we had day after day of clouds here in Washington, which recently received the distinction of being 5th in the nation for cloudy days. I get up at 5:00 a.m., and it is at least another 1.5 hours before sunrise.

Last Thursday I seemed paralyzed against taking any constructive action. Took a nap—nothing changed. Exercised, ate right, drank lots of water, and wrote in my journal. Then it dawned on me that it was time to bring out my Happy Lite Junior.

A Little Background

Growing up in Tomah, Wisconsin, there was much light in my life. Nothing like the brilliant sun on the white snow that was prevalent in the winter. We have heard of or experienced Wisconsin’s humid summers, yet there was sunshine, too.

After getting married, we moved to Northridge, California, where there were days of 100-degree weather. Most of the time it was extremely pleasant, and we entertained in our sun-filled backyard and swimming pool on a regular basis.

Then there was the move to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, which was a town filled with civil war history and bustling with college students. Many of the activities were outside, for one could pretty well count on the sun showing up each day.

With much joy, we took our next assignment at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. The first morning on the island I woke up to a brilliant sunrise, banana trees laden with their crop, and palm trees; I felt like I was in heaven. The sun provided warmth—and provided me with unparalleled energy. I accomplished much during the four years we lived there.

The 4,000-mile move to Washington and little sunlight became a challenge. I missed the sun and my energy level didn’t seem to match my former life. One day, I discovered an article about light therapy. My symptoms matched the description of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a form of depression that occurs with seasonal changes.

I ordered Happy Lite Jr. from Verilux. The instructions stated, do not use the light near bedtime. With that in mind, I set the light on my desk and turned it on for 15 minutes each morning while I went through my emails. I waited for an improvement.

In less than a week, I caught myself buzzing around and getting much accomplished. Nah, it couldn’t be the light. I did a test and left it off for three cloudy days—that same lethargic mood was coming back. It was the light!

So as the days here shortened and the clouds rolled in, I pulled the light out from under my bed. I wasn’t about to go through another entirely unproductive day.

I’m sitting here smiling, for it is yet another cloudy day and I have written this blog before 9:00 a.m. Imagine what else I can accomplish today.

The way you communicate to yourself is just as important, maybe even more important, than the way you communicate with others. Make sure you keep your mind and energy sharp. It’s too big of a wonderful world out there to feel like all you want to do is pull up the covers over your head.

It’s the Little Things:

1. If you are not being productive, and you cannot get a handle on the reason why, write in a journal and just let your thoughts flow—you may be surprised at the answer.

2. Ask the question, “If I did know …” Starting a question in this way accesses a different part of your brain and helps bring up the answer. (I asked this question while journal writing and was quickly reminded to bring out the light.)

3. If people say they believe in light therapy, do not knock their belief. How many of you are suffering from lack of sunshine and doing nothing about it?

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Writing Effective Reviews that Teach

While reading my email this morning, I ran across one that referred to one of my favorite places here in the northwest: Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie, Oregon. Many people know their products for the outstanding natural grains they grind in the plant and distribute throughout the nation. Those of us in this area are fortunate to be able to head down to the corporate headquarters and store at any time.

The website had a highlighted “review” section, and clicking on it brought up a wealth of information about the store and restaurant.

What can you learn from reading reviews? Here is what I learned about Bob’s Red Mill.

1. One reviewer went on about how good the egg sandwich was and how it was an outstanding value for the price. They serve breakfast at the restaurant on the premises, and an egg sandwich is something I hadn’t thought of in years.

2. It was revealed that Bob himself hangs out there on Saturdays. A big deal? Maybe not, but it is nice to know that the man behind the company comes in and talks with his customers—the human touch.

3. Reminder: The open bins of grains are an outstanding value, costing far less than when the grains are packaged and stored on shelves.

4. Reminder: Make sure you go through your cupboards and recipes before you go there, for it is easy to get overwhelmed due to the large quality of bulk bins that line the walls.

5. Reminder: If you think you will be the only one in the store on Saturday, think again. Customers have learned to make their grocery-shopping trip a real outing, where they can browse, eat a meal, and have great coffee with friends.

I wish I had read those reviews before I went. My first visit to the store was truly overwhelming, and reading reviews before my arrival would’ve lessened my confusion.

What if you sat down and wrote a review for a person or business with which you do business?

It’s the Little Things

Tips for Writing Reviews:

1. If you are frustrated with a company, take a deep breath before you head to the computer to write a negative review. Ask yourself, would I want someone to write this about me if it were a one-time issue?

2. Pick up or ask for a contact card as you are about to exit the place of business. When it is time to write the review, you will be glad you have all the information within easy reach.

3. When writing the review, give the reader some useful information about the business.

Example: The review reminded me about egg sandwiches. If I am going to have one, it sounds like Bob’s Red Mill is the place to go—visions of my great childhood dance in my head.

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