6 Business Pointers from Bingo

It’s not always the formal “learning opportunities” that inspire us the most.

I went to an interesting workshop on Thursday: Lead with Influence: Training Our Talent. It was helpful in the way it motivated us to try to figure how how to change behavior by getting to the motivations behind people’s choices.

Ironically, however, a blog outline popped into my head rapidly as I sat through roughly 45 minutes of Bingo when I met Wayne afterwards at Corner Pocket. (Our house was being shown, so we decided to grab a bite to eat there. It was Thursday, therefore it was Bingo night.)

This is what I saw. (And maybe it’s just that I haven’t ever played organized Bingo. Maybe it’s always this compelling. But it made an impression on me.)

The players were prepared

The regulars (and there are numerous regulars) showed up ready to play, with their special Bingo marker pens (pardon me — apparently I mean Bingo Daubers).

We settled for (wait for it) a humble big green pen (I happened to have one (or 10)) on me, but now that I know Bingo Daubers are a thing, I have my eye on green glitter!

Business Pointers from Bingo

Source: Connecticut Bingo Supply Website

And I suppose it would be a pretty pessimistic move to invest in this one (especially given my Optimism Light alternate identity), but it makes me laugh:

Business Pointers from Bingo

Source: Amazon
Made by Powerdot

The players were enthusiastic

These people were happy to be doing what they were doing. Their excitement created its own energy. People chatted at tables between rounds; they celebrated each other’s success. They were collectively in that desirable space of savoring the moment while looking ahead to the future with anticipation.

They balanced individual goal-directedness with concern for team welfare

Some people huddled over their own cards, looking for the “down,” “across,” “X,” or “H” that would pay off for them. My husband and I shared a card. One group pooled their money, played all the cards they bought, and then shared the winnings if there were any. I’m not sure what the math of implementing that last plan yields, but it seems that if everyone stands to benefit from the cards at play, there is redoubled attention to marking the cards correctly.

They had shared rituals

Imagine attending a college football game as an impartial attendee. Not knowing any team’s special traditions (for instance, there was a Florida State player once whose nickname was “Pooh.” Whenever he did something noteworthy, the FSU fans would yell “POOOHHHHHH!” but it sounded like “BOO!!!!!” It would be confusing for the uninitiated.)

This Bingo crowd has its traditions:

For B-11: “B 11, BB 11!” they would chant.

One of the “B” numbers was designated for Bree, one of the callers. There were several “special” traditions. (There’s also a group reaction for “O-69” — I’ll leave that one to your imagination!)

They helped newbies

Wayne asked several questions of the table next to us, populated by a group of regulars. They answered his questions immediately and thoroughly. Not that they wouldn’t anyway, but I believe when you love something, you tend toward generosity in how you help others acclimate.

This applies so much in business, I think. If you truly feel engaged with the mission and  included in the team, there’s no reason to withhold information or encouragement from someone who is your peer, subordinate, or supervisor. Even if you ostensibly may be in a position at some point to be in head-to-head competition with someone for a promotion or other status change, clarify the email, say a word of support, be the first to answer their question.

It speaks to your character and team spirit if you are liberal in your willingness to help so that the organization looks good and clients are delighted. Karma, I hope, takes care of the long term.

(Side note: I love Caitie Whelan’s brief Lightning Notes essay on the value of “Learn it, share it.” She writes, “The business of living is not a solo sport. We rise and fall relative to our ability to walk beside each other. And when we share generously, abundantly of our learnings, experience, imagination, we help smooth the path alongside us.” Lots of truth here, in bingo or in business.)

Their motivation showed

The moment one round ended, the line to buy new bingo cards would materialize around the host table. (I suppose Charles DuHigg, author of The Power of Habit, would contend this is habit rather than motivation. Perhaps it’s both.) No one had to remind them to line up or incentivize them to do so. It mattered to them, therefore they lined up.

Bingo … Business … Life

I thought when I enrolled in the “Lead with Influence” training that I would leave with the material for a blog post. Besides the awesome opportunity to spend time with my friend Colleen, the chance to get some professional development for free (thanks, Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality), and the motivation to leave the house (something I don’t do often enough), I thought “great — this will make for an easy blog post.”

I did enjoy the workshop and was motivated by the reminder that change can indeed become the “path of least resistance” when we thoroughly evaluate the personal, social and structural contributors when trying to solve to problems.

Honestly, though, the most direct line to realizing how outstanding outcomes are the result of behavioral choices and group unison came from a few rounds of Bingo in a bar.

Business Pointers from Bingo

 

Five Minute Friday: DONE

Today’s prompt: DONE

Although I am not able to run right now, my social world is still FULL of runners and triathletes. These are relationships built over years … of Thursday night trail runs, Tuesday night intervals, and countless Saturdays toeing the line at races (then relaxing together afterward.

Something that comes along with hanging out with athletes in real life and online is all the motivational sayings.

Here’s this week’s: CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP #CSWS

In all honesty, #CSWS isn’t one of my favorites among the flood of motivational hashtags I see and hear over a week.

Before I get off the whiny horse, I had to stop so I did stop (running). #HTSDS doesn’t have the same ring as #CSWS.

But I know it isn’t to be taken literally, and it basically means “do what you love — break down ALL the barriers — keep going because stopping isn’t an option — and hold each other accountable to that.

#CSWS is the hashtag our community has used to support our friend Ron Nieto, who went to hospice Tuesday. He has had cancer for several years.

Now that he has been moved to hospice, he and his family are so much on my mind. It hasn’t been that long (a year) since we were a hospice family, first for several months at our home and then for the last week of my father-in-law’s life.

I didn’t know Ron well, and I had just started socializing with him a bit due to our mutual involvement in Team Red White and Blue right around the time he got diagnosed. I remember chatting with him following one of the amazing Gate to Gate runs at Eglin Air Force Base.

** end of five minutes **

But then life got in the way and we didn’t see each other that often (except on Facebook).

One day not all that long ago he posted “just come see me. I don’t need anything, just company.” (This is a paraphrase.) I wish I had made a point of visiting, even if we don’t know each other that well (how often do people actually ask for things specifically enough that we can know we are doing what they want?).

He also went out of his way to thank people for supporting him. After several friends participated in the Ride for Hope bicycle event in his honor a few weeks ago, he posted thanking them. And the volunteers who made the race happen. He was gracious and remembered the small things.

Ron may be done with triathlons, but we will never be done benefiting from the example he set.

#CSWS #RonStrong

My musical inspiration for today’s writing (hopefully I found the clean version considering this linkup is a faith-based thing!).

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

Don’t Overthink. Improvise.

Communicating better through improv

Credit: Daily Quotes

Do any of you have an “overthinking” problem?

I’m pretty sure “stop overthinking” would be one of the main pieces of advice a life coach would give me.

After all, I created an entire channel devoted to overthinking “for all that stuff spilling out of our heads (and hearts) because we can’t turn our brains off” in one of my Slack groups.

Communicating better through improv

That life coach may encourage me to get some improv training to learn how to shortcircuit the overthinking and ramp up the decisive action.

I did take an improv class recently. This is a post I wrote for Spin Sucks based on my experience.

Before I get to the post, I want to encourage you to check out the upcoming Kimprovise sessions in Tallahassee on July 28 and 31 if you’re local. If you sign up for one of the $15 sessions, I get to come free, so we could abolish (or at least diminish) overthinking TOGETHER! Here’s the link (just mention I referred you).

On with post:

From the World of Improv: Five Ways to Rock Your Speech

Think about the most memorable speech you have ever heard.

If you’re like me, your list of remarkable speeches is short.

But, your list of forgettable speeches goes on and on, like a keynote speaker in a dimly lit hotel ballroom who doesn’t know how to stop even after the rubber chicken has been consumed.

Not All Speeches Occur in Ballrooms

Being able to speak well is a skill that extends beyond formal speeches.

Knowing how to get your point across can make a difference.

It can make a difference in getting an initiative approved in next year’s budget, or convincing your partner to have trout instead of salmon.

And it can make all the difference in nailing down special testing arrangements for your child who has unique sensory needs.

Lessons from Improvisation

We are sometimes limited in the flexibility we have regarding the words we say.

Our time allotment may be too short to allow us to elaborate on points we think might make or break our success.

But no matter what we say, there are intangibles behind our speaking process that can make a difference.

I was sharing some tips with a friend recently about how to keep the essence of her originality while presenting information she needed the listeners to act on.

The power of improv training was one of those tips.

Because I love all you Spin Sucks people, I immediately (and spontaneously—this is improv we’re talking about after all) signed up for an improv class to refresh my memory.

Here are three classic improv principles and how they can help you present more effectively, even if you can’t change a word.

Go With Your Gut

The teacher’s exact instructions were “say the first thing that comes to mind” and “do the first motion that you feel.”

We played the classic improv game, “Zip Zap Zop.”

In the game, the participants are in a circle.

The first participant throws “energy” to a recipient of their choice, saying “ZIP” while clapping.

That participant then throws the action to another recipient, saying “ZAP,” and so on.

We didn’t know each other. We had just walked into the room as strangers 15 minutes prior. It was clumsy and awkward.

Maybe saying “zip, zap, or zop” alone is easy enough, but add to that making eye contact, clapping to indicate your intended recipient, being prepared to catch the energy again, and now you have a recipe for hesitating.

Unless you keep playing.

When you keep on playing, you learn to trust yourself.

Likewise, when you practice speaking, you learn to trust your words and body language, and you are that much closer to getting your message across clearly.

Yes, And…

Sometimes our message is one which we anticipate our audience will disagree.

An exercise we do at Toastmasters is to give a “speech to convince,” and we are encouraged to adopt a position we don’t personally hold.

I gave my speech as though I were a pregnant anti-vaccine woman speaking to a committee of extremely pro-vaccine pediatricians and family practitioners.

(In my real life, I am an advocate for vaccines.)

It was my job in those moments to try to find some common ground.

In improv terms, I was looking for the “yes, and” opportunity instead of a “no, but” brick wall.

In an improv exercise, “yes, and” enables us to learn to help each other.

What not to do:

Paula: I just found out I’m off work tomorrow!

Partner: Too bad you’ll get behind on everything.

What to do:

Paula: I just found out I’m off work tomorrow!

Partner: Yes! And the Greek Food Festival will be taking place.

The second response provides a whole lot more latitude to extend the conversation.

It’s a stretch, I know, with my pregnant mom/pediatricians scenario, to find the “yes, and.”

However, I know that what I gained from “being an anti-vaxxer for 10 minutes” was that at the core of my motives was the love for my child.

It’s easy to blow off someone who feels differently or believes inaccurate things as ignorant or uncaring.

The “yes, and” concept is something that should underpin anything we do as communicators.

For the parent headed hesitantly to a tense IEP meeting, is there something they can bring to the table to help their child’s teacher better understand?

Perhaps by making accommodations for the child’s issue, it will make classroom management easier all around.

This TEDx talk discusses how “yes, and” can be part of your organizational approach.

Mistake? What Mistake?

The third principle of improv taught is “there are no mistakes.”

(However, we did receive a warning that it’s poor form to “pull a gun” in an improv scene because it’s the ultimate power imbalance. And I have to agree.)

Once, at a school board meeting, I had exactly three minutes to give a speech about a matter that was intensely significant to me.

I sat there debating whether to take my “cheat sheet” post-it with me to the lectern. Ultimately, I decided not to.

The school board members wouldn’t know if I didn’t say what I had planned.

I would be much more able to make eye contact and try to reach them non-verbally if I wasn’t fussing with a little slip of paper.

I would also be able to give the speech without my glasses on, which felt like a small liberation.

Mistakes and the fear of making them can be our biggest inhibitors.

They aren’t fun. They can be a bit embarrassing. But the world does, indeed, keep turning no matter what we do.

This time, the improv game we played section involved singing (yay).

The leader started off with a song about stars (let’s say “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”).

From there, another participant had to jump in with another “star” song or something that played off the Twinkle Twinkle lyrics.

(Like, “I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight” by the Kinks playing off “how I wonder what you are.”)

Our class struggled here, too.

This activity required thinking, hard, while frantically reviewing songs in our brains, then having the courage to jump in and sing them.

But we did manage. And our teacher learned that run-of-the-mill, non-musical theatre people *may* not have quite the encyclopedic mental song libraries your typical theatre nerd has.

Your audience can’t read your mind and doesn’t know what you rehearsed five times last night.

Take a deep breath, and remember the motivations that brought you here in the first place.

Your Speech is a Gift

Just like the best conversations, a speech isn’t so much a one-way entity as an exchange, even if one person is behind a lectern and one or 1,000 audience members are facing them, just listening.

When our improv class exchanged imaginary “balls,” some people “golfed,” some shot “marbles,” and others pretended to struggle to heft heavy “medicine balls.”

The balls weren’t physical. They were in our minds. And the recipients immediately transformed them into what they were planning to throw.

Only you have the exact idea of what you plan to share.

Even if in theory it has repeatedly been presented throughout history, your version is uniquely yours.

The recipient is going to turn it into something new and different anyway. So, you might as well leave them recalling what made yours so memorable.

Do you have a presentation coming up, large or small, that has you anxious?

Think about applying these principles, and I’m betting you’ll walk away with a Zip (and maybe even a Zap or Zop) in your step!

Back to the Tallahassee Offer

Communicating better through improv

Our Kimprovise class.

Imagine the freedom that comes with slicing some “overthinking” out of your psyche.

Dip your foot in the world of improv at a Kimprovise session at All Saints Culture Club on Railroad Ave. on July 28 (noon) or 31 (6:30) for just $15 and try it out! Click here to sign up (and please mention I referred you!).

Other great thoughts on improv

I also encourage you to read my friend Molly’s post, Improvise Our Way to Common Ground, about improv and how everyone can benefit. I especially like the way she encourages readers to use improv techniques to achieve better outcomes from difficult conversations and increase collaboration when it seems elusive.

Communicating better through improv

I have linked this post up with the Kat Bouska site for the prompt “What advice would a life coach give you about how to improve your daily life?”

Communicating better through improv

A version of this post was originally published at Spin Sucks as From the World of Improv: Five Ways to Rock Your Speech.

 

Five Minute Friday: VACATION

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: VACATION

My Facebook scrolling (and most other social media) is full right now ….

…..of what OTHER people are doing on vacation.

Europe seems to be especially big this summer, with New York City (my favorite!) not far behind. Oh, and the beach.

Honestly I struggle with the generosity of spirit required to simply be happy for these friends (which I am) rather than be envious.

My dream trip (Valencia, Spain) seems farther and farther away as I get older and my wallet gets slimmer. I haven’t been to New York since December 2016 (I aim to go once a year). Our family doesn’t take summer weeks at St. George Island anymore.

Bluntly: I need a vacation!

(alert for whiny paragraph here) I haven’t taken a day off for something that didn’t involve a family member’s hospitalization (my mom’s lengthy illness), a death (hers, as well as my father-in-law’s) or a medical procedure for myself since April 2017 (who’s counting?!). It’s not that my free-lance employer wouldn’t give me the time off. They would. It’s a combination of the fact that we need the earnings (especially until this house gets sold) and trying to prove myself reliable to my employer. To keep all the “whines” in one paragraph, one of the challenges of freelance life is the fact that there is no paid leave.

***end of five minutes***

***puts Flamenco music on Spotify to inspire a Valencian vibe as I finish the blog…***

Until my vacation materializes, I’m going to keep enjoying my friends’ pictures and stories, and redouble my efforts to be genuinely happy for them rather than feeling deprived (and let’s face it, at this time in our world there are much bigger problems than not having more stamps in my passport or more frozen daiquiries at the beach).

I’ll keep working, keep proving myself, keep hoping.

Maybe the next time a prompt is “vacation” or “trip,” I’ll have something more to report!

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

What Tallahassee Trail?

Our President referred to the “Tallahassee Trail” recently, apparently an erroneous attempt to discuss the Appalachian Trail (at the 0:20 mark in the video below).

My knowledge of hiking the AT is confined to what I have read in AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, Life Unbolted, and conversations with my friend Patrick (author of Life Unbolted) and a few other friends and relatives who have spent time on the AT. I have never set foot on the AT.

This, however, is what I recall from what I read (in bold) with the Tallahassee counterpoint below in italics:

The Appalachian Trail was started around 1930, the result of an initiative by regional planner Benton MacKaye that began in 1921 for a “utopian” hiking trail. 

I suppose you could say Tallahassee was begun in its earliest periods (the Native Americans who first lived here, the Spanish people who established missions here in the 1960s) more out of need than of recreation. However, I suspect those settlers had an appreciation for our region’s abundance and natural beauty.

The AT was the first national scenic trail established by law (in 1968, with a largely unpublicized assist apparently from First Lady Ladybird Johnson). 

I’m not sure what we have in Tallahassee that is the equivalent. As far as federal issues that stand out in our history though, is much of the litigation around a little thing called the contested 2000 presidential election. And we know Trump has strong opinions about federal election integrity

The trail is full of beauty.

This is the aspect of the AT I most want to see for myself. The books I’ve read about it paint lovely pictures and it would be incredible to see them in person. Tallahassee, too, is FULL of beauty. We are so fortunate.

The trail is full of difficulty.

Tallahassee has its challenges too (spend time here in August and you’ll see what I mean!). We have our own hurdles to overcome — intrinsic issues with hunger, especially among children; too much crime, urban planning challenges.

People go to the trail for different reasons, but it all boils down to the fact that they are searching for something.

Many people are in Tallahassee for the same reason I am — they came to school and then ended up staying. No matter the reason we arrive here, and no matter how much we love it, all of us are on our own quest to either find ourselves, find bliss, or both.

People on the trail have to depend on the kindness of strangers.

One thing I always thought when reading about hiking the AT is “I’m not sure I’d be able to hitchhike or ask for things.” I suppose I would go hungry many times! We need each other here in Tallahassee, too. Just check out the annual Fill-a-Truck to fill food pantries for the summer, how we all made sure to share power and coffee and generator time after our hurricanes, how we are banding together right now to help our neighbors in Eastpoint affected by a terrible fire.

The trail is ever-changing.

Even if a hiker visits the same exact spot annually on the same day, it will never be the same. Vegetation will change; weather conditions will vary; soil will have eroded. Tallahassee, too, evolves all the time. Businesses come and go; politicians gain (and lose) power. But the heat and the inability of anyone to use a traffic signal will go on forever!

It is an accomplishment to achieve your goals on the AT.

My hat is off to anyone who can hike the entire AT. This is not an easy task at all. My hat is also off to all of the incredible people who make Tallahassee such a great place to live.

In thinking through why the president may have been confused between the Appalachian Trail and the (non-existent) Tallahassee Trail, I tried to draw some conclusions (even though I suspect the reason may have just been ignorance. After thinking through the categories above, it strikes me that he was especially off due to these three factors:

Everyone belongs on the AT

Anyone can walk the AT with the right physical conditioning and willpower. Furthermore, there are NO WALLS intended to keep people out. Everyone is welcome.

Our city paved the way for civil rights for everyone, as commemorated by a trail that is much shorter than the AT (it’s about half a mile) but long on reverence for our history as a community growing together toward improving civil rights for all. It’s the Tallahassee-Leon County Civil Rights Heritage Walk.

Tallahassee Trail

Image credit: Florida State University

Packing

Finally, an image that comes to mind is actually from Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. She walked the Pacific Crest Trail rather than the Appalachian trail, but the image applies.

In her book, Strayed talks about her decision to walk the trail. She lived in the midwest somewhere at the time (I think), and went to her local REI to stock up on everything she would need. She bought all the “right” things — right backpack, the perfect sleeping bag, everything the books said she would need.

Her bag was so heavy she couldn’t even put it on!

Maybe the president was confused because he went into this presidency as unprepared for the realities and responsibilities as Cheryl Strayed struggling under the crushing weight of things people told her she should have but that she didn’t have enough experience to reject.

Running a country sure isn’t a time to be winging it.

Five Minute Friday: IF

Five Minute Friday

Note: While this runs completely counter to the point of Five Minute Friday and having a prompt, I am inserting two pictures that I plan to work into this week’s prompt before the prompt is revealed. There’s a particular thread I need to pull in my life and writing right now, so here’s hoping the prompt somehow works into the concepts in my head and these pictures.

Samples of what would work: Bloom, climb, suffocate

Can’t wait to see what I end up with! ~ pk

Today’s prompt: IF

As I mentioned above, there’s an emotional thread I need to go ahead and pull. Not knowing what the prompt would be, I took a leap of faith and found the images below, hoping it would all work out. It has (yay)!

The issue/thread is a relatively private thing that I am trying to do in a public manner (what could possibly go wrong, right?), so I apologize for any additional “cryptic” that characterizes this post.

There is a connection I have been seeking with another individual, and I find myself (in my perception at least) being *that* over-attentive acquaintance that I *know* annoys me when the reverse is true.

You know — the person who is genuinely wonderful, but may not have that much faith in themselves therefore are the first to show up at every gathering (not that punctuality is bad!), if you ask for a glass of water they bring you the glass, plus a backup gallon for when you run out. Giving, but cloying.

There is a fine, fine balance between confidently asserting yourself in someone’s life and sucking the air out of that intangible space that helps an acquaintanceship grow into deeper friendship.

[Timing note — I’m at roughly the 4:30 mark — and stopped writing because I got a phone call — and I guess that’s how this prompt is going to go today. Obviously, I need to finish my response (and at least get to the prompt word), so I invite you to keep reading.]

Here’s a visual. There are some beautiful flowering vines out there. Wisteria is one. I have seen many different gorgeous color variations of wisteria.

However, did you know wisteria is one of the Five Monster Vines Southern Living Says You Should Never Plant? The Southern Living article says Chinese Wisteria and Japanese Wisteria can: “Tear off gutters. Bend iron railings. Strangle trees. Smother entire woods and hillsides.”

Wisteria looks much less attractive if it gloms onto something else in its overzealous way without being patient about finding a way to co-exist beautifully (like this…):

Source: Wikipedia images

Each of us has something to give the world that no one else can do in exactly the same way. Trying to grow connections too fast without taking into account the two-way of this kind of thing can end up being stifling for the other party and exhausting for the person seeking to connect.

(And this is a side note, but the other thing about overzealously pursuing something that just isn’t destined to connect better or more deeply, at least not at the current time, is that I sometimes end up giving short shrift to the people with whom I already have a comfortable, dynamic, trusting fit.)

IF

What if, instead, we appreciated what we already have and had confidence that connections that don’t bloom the way we want them to may still be developing roots?

What if, instead, we accepted that sometimes these gaps between people are not about either person but about timing, or misunderstandings, or for goodness sake — just because they aren’t meant to be?

(Another side note: I think social media complicates all of this — it’s that much harder to read intentions when you have never looked someone in the eyes….)

What if, like the wisteria below, we each worked on strengthening our core values and sense of self? What if we let the people who have been faithful in our lives help build a logical and stable frame so we could stretch out our limbs and bloom?

What if we spent less energy on proving how fast we can climb and how colorfully we can bloom and instead proved our worth to ourselves?

Photo Credit: Flickr user Catherine

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

529 Plans: When the Word “Plan” Doesn’t Exactly Fit

This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

One of the songs from the play “Dear Evan Hansen” is “Words Fail.”

Along the same vein, create a vision for how your child’s higher education path is going to go, and you may find that, to twist Evan Hansen’s song around:

“Plans Change.”

Florida 529 savings plans

And indeed, as a parent, you may find that “words fail” as you try to respond in a “parental” way to a shift in the plan or heck, a complete upheaval.

Why Do Plans Change?

If I could succinctly answer this question, I would probably be so wealthy I wouldn’t need my awesome Florida Prepaid Plan or any other type of financial help to fund my children’s college and higher education choices.

I would be rich!

Since I don’t personally know, I consulted someone who probably does: a college student. Anthony Hurd of San Diego State University wrote a great post about the 7 Signs That Show You’re an Impulsive Person.  Here are a couple of the signs that stood out to me:

Being young: “As a part of the youth, it’s almost a requirement to disregard all of those consequences and carry out your whims as you please,” Anthony writes.

Deciding based on feelings rather than logic: “Your actions elicit the response ‘why?'”

Anthony hit on something that is part and parcel of being a young adult, at least for many students.

In our family, my daughter changed her mind about going to the local community college (and living at home) and decided to enroll at a university in a nearby state. Fortunately, that university charged in-state tuition to Florida students but the decision still tacked on housing costs and other unexpected expenses.

My son also planned to stay home and attend community college …. until he fell in love with someone who planned go to school elsewhere. Again, a family financial u-turn and finding a way to deal with housing costs during his Automotive Collision certificate program.

How 529 Plans are a Fit for Changes of Plans

Although Florida Prepaid Savings Plans are incredible (I’ve written about them here and here), and can be used outside the state of Florida, a 529 plan can fill the funding gap between what Prepaid will cover if your child goes out of state or to a private institution and the full cost.

In Addition to Changing Plans, College Students Need Things

The Florida 529 Savings Plan can be used tax-free to cover things Prepaid does not, including:

  • Books
  • Computers and other educational technology
  • Room and board*

College Students Need Things, and We Adults Need Flexibility

Any adult age 18 or older who is a US citizen or resident alien can purchase a 529 Plan for a child or adult who is a US citizen or resident alien

Investors in 529 plans can invest as much or as little as they choose.

The eGift portal is a way to encourage family members and caring adults (heck, even non caring adults!) to give to a child’s 529 account.

Are you planning to find out more about a 529 Plan or Sign Up?

Now is the time!

The administrators of the Florida 529 Savings Plans are doing a special promotion:

Open a Florida 529 Savings Plan, from now through June 30, and they will seed your account with $25. Set up an automatic monthly contribution of $25 or more, and they will add another $25.**

To sign up, click here.

It will take you about 10 minutes to enroll, and you’ll need the social security numbers for yourself and your beneficiary.

You might want to explore your investment options here first.

I’ll plan to hear all about your success in the future, no matter where your family’s road takes you!

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Five Minute Friday: OCEAN

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: OCEAN

I laughed and laughed (probably too much – it wasn’t that hilarious but it WAS very early in the day) yesterday when an article I was reading for work talked about the acronym for the Portland Urban Data Lake — PUDL.

The metaphors for data make me laugh – fog, lake. I’m not sure if there’s a data ocean but we are all dealing with so many waves of data it seems like there should be if there isn’t.

Like all of us, I am dealing with so many waves of incoming data — it’s definitely high tide for that kind of thing — and a trip to the REAL ocean would, to borrow from last week’s word, RESTORE me.

When I first started having tinnitus, it was summertime and our family was scheduled to go to the beach. It wasn’t until I was at the shore, sitting on the sand, taking in the roar of the ocean, that something was finally loud enough to drown out the rushing sound in my head.

I’m (mostly) used to the sound in my head now. There could be worse problems to have, but it was incredible to have relief for a few minutes, especially when the sensation was new.

The tinnitus also went away (briefly) after a chiropractic adjustment to my neck a year or two ago. There’s probably a large, meaningful message there about the effects of alignment on my literal head.

But back to the restorative ocean. Our family doesn’t go to St. George (the local and beautiful beach) for a weekly get-together anymore, but being back there would certainly help me align my head and my heart again, and drown out some of the incessant tides encroaching on my life.Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

If I had coffee with Sarah Sanders…

I have not perfectly demonstrated this belief over the years, but it is something I owe my fellow female professionals (and just my fellow women in general):advice for Sarah Sanders

But when it comes to this one woman…

My work schedule right now is front-loaded in the (much) earlier part of the day, so I often find myself able to watch the daily press briefing.

As I watch, I think “I feel so angry at this woman” as I watch Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (SHS).

I can’t figure this out.

Some of my strong emotional reaction I can diagnose …..it boils down to the fact that I don’t believe it is professional to demean the journalism professionals present so openly nor to speak in such a hostile way about people and organizations that disagree with the leaders of the Executive branch.

I start watching/listening to most daily briefings with an attitude of “I probably won’t agree with most of what she says but it is important to not stick my head in the sand.”

I usually make it about 10 minutes before tweeting out my frustration and trying not to hurl shoes at the television.

What I want to tell SHS

I know some sources say she plans to leave the position by the end of the year (although she apparently denies these reports), so perhaps it’s a moot point, but I still have to get this out.

I know I will probably never actually be invited to have coffee with her. I’ll never face the White House press corps. I’ll never be in the audience at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, knowing my boss and I are surely going to be the butt of jokes.

But if I did have an opportunity to chat, I would tell her no job is worth abandoning your own voice to be the mouthpiece of anger and vitriol. I don’t think that is what the press secretary role is about.

Not the she necessarily sees Melinda Gates as a role model, but I’m with Melinda.advice for Sarah Sanders

I would tell her that I think in time she is going to look back at this period of her life and wish she had taken a different approach.

SHS’s predecessors were different

This topic has been niggling at my brain for months now. Because I don’t have a comprehensive recall of previous press secretaries’ performances, I sought an example from a previous administration. I chose a Republican administration to be fair to SHS and ended up at this Scott McClellan briefing from the George W. Bush administration.

Watching one briefing does not a thorough analysis make, but I was struck by a few things:

  1. McClellan’s calm tone (even when he was refusing to answer questions)
  2. How he emphasized the fact that he valued his relationship with the press corps (yes, he may have been blowing smoke up their butts, but he made the effort)
  3. His tendency to explain rather than attack

BUT SHS has done some things right

SHS has done one thing that did not (in my opinion) occur under Sean Spicer. She has brought a semblance of order to the process. I admire her for that because keeping conversations within the rails has to be hard.

About SHS’ interaction with Larry Karem

Fast forward to the June 14 press briefing. As the national outcry grew over the how the administration was condoning the separation of children from their parents when immigrant families arrived from Mexico illegally, reporters sought answers.

Larry Karem of CNN and Playboy pressed SHS over and over (and over) again, eventually asking … as she began to ignore him and pointedly called on another reporter … “Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?”

(At the time, all I could think was about my time at Healthy Kids. In my customer service capacity, I talked to countless parents who were upset about their children’s accounts being cancelled for late payment and other reasons. Inevitably, they would say, “do YOU have kids?” One parent said, “I’ve looked you up on Facebook. I know all about your kids.” Nice. It is hard to separate out your compassion and empathy as a parent with the rules you have to enforce as an employee. Therefore, I did feel empathy for SHS as the reporter screamed at her, prefacing his question about empathy with, “You’re a parent. You’re a parent of young children.”)

Ultimately, I side Larry.

If I had coffee with Sarah, I would encourage her to listen to her own voice.

I know a bit about her ideological background, so it’s unlikely that her “own voice” has that much in common with mine.

But if we were going to be in the same tribe together, and she was at all receptive to my attempt to lift her up, my advice would come with an admonition to consider listening to her own voice more closely instead of resorting to hostilely defending someone else’s while denigrating people who are (for the most part) trying to do their jobs.

*Note: One question I have asked myself while thinking through this post is whether I would feel the same if SHS were a man. I’m not sure. I think at the heart of my personal reaction to her approach is the idea that young women considering careers in communications are taking their cues from her, not just about professionalism but about how to mix being a professional with being a parent, and the message she sends should be longer on professionalism and shorter on mean-spiritedness.

*Note 2: If you want to use YOUR voice to advocate on behalf of the immigrant children being separated from their parents, here are five simple, quick actions recommended by Moms Rising.

Five Minute Friday: RESTORE

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: RESTORE

The word “restore” makes me think of a local church called “Restoration Place.”

I suspect people may go to Restoration Place seeking for their spirits to be restored, but the real work happens inside and can take place anywhere.

I want to write something positive tonight (because I feel my writing lately has tended toward deep introspection with an essence of despair (not to sound maudlin — it’s been a year.))

Therefore,  a word of gratitude to the people, places and things that restore me daily. It really doesn’t take much.

My Facebook friend Lisa, for example, shares her vivid nature photography. I don’t think she and I have ever met in person, but she restores me with these gorgeous images that remind me there is a force out there bigger than ourselves that places beauty in our paths. Thank you, Lisa, for capturing it so beautifully.

Gulf Fritillary
Photo Credit and all rights: Lisa Baggett

A friend texted me yesterday to set up brunch this weekend. That gives me something to look forward to, at a restaurant I haven’t been to before. I know from prior experience with her that the shared laughter, empathy and support will be restorative.

I’m in a new (additional) freelance situation this week. The fact that the owner took the time to tell me that I am appreciated, picked up screen share (do you pick up screen share? Set up, I guess) to teach me a skill I needed because I hadn’t used their social sharing platform before, and in general set a positive tone refreshed my faith that sometimes a strange set of situations …

** end of five minutes**

… some Slack conversations and a bit of serendipity can lead to a bright moment or two.

I’m also still in my (old) freelance situation and, although anyone who is hanging out with me on Twitter at that time of the evening may wonder why I tweet almost every night that I am happy to wake up early for work I like, all I can say is the same thing I say in many of those tweets. I don’t take this for granted. A decade+ of Monday dread showed me otherwise, and it’s worth sharing over and over when something revitalizing happens.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)