When Your Angel Goes to College: 5 Tips to Help in the College Process

Sending my two girls off to college within the last two years has given me a crash course in parent “collegology”. The college chapter is when the whole family is on a roller coaster that doesn’t get back to the place where you all got on. You and your college bound student are in the front car that speeds up at every twist and turn. The new goal is not only getting your young adult to college, but not derailing the whole family all together. Tensions are high, uncertainty is your daily bread. Days and even moments can go from your student counting down the days until they leave, to sadness about leaving everything they know “behind”. Hang in there parents. This ride will stop. Your job in the process is to get control of the ride. Here are 5 steps to help you do just that.
1. Lighten Up. We wonder why teens think college is a life or death situation. It’s because they see adults act like it is. For example, all through high school, schools and parents put a ton of pressure on kids to exceed, excel, do better, do more-oh and remember to join every club you can so you appear socially conscious to colleges. Whoa. That’s a tall order for a teen. Imagine as a parent at this time in life if this type of pressure were put on us. When we’re older life success does not depend on how we live for only 4 years. Do we ever tell our teens what will happen after the 4 years of college? Imagine the let down they will have when they find out that the 4 years doesn’t lead to happy ever after. Success is measured by character, effort, excellence and most importantly, constancy. It’s not like we do not get second chances or a Plan B. We grow, Our interests and needs change as we get older. Our goals change. So far, we live in a society that supports and encourages change and growth. How about we tell our teens to do their best every day, to look at the whole picture and teach them to be constant? On tough days, our best may not be as good as it is on our good days. Choosing a college is not the be all, end all. If it doesn’t work out, they can change their minds. Removing the pressure of blowing the “the most important decision of their lives” will do wonders for them. Give them a little room to grow and the process might even be enjoyable. If we want our teens to lighten up, we must lighten up first.
2. Visit Colleges Years Before it is Time for them to Fly (Apply). Visiting colleges can easily cost as much as a year’s tuition. It is also very timely. Start visiting EARLY, and at everyone’s liesure. Whenever you take a family vacation, try to visit a college in that area while you are already there. This can be easily done while taking trips to visit family in other parts of the country as well. Seeing colleges while everyone is enjoying relaxing vacation time takes pressure off and adds excitement for their future. It can also save you time and money.
3.Don’t Take Every College Tour Before You Show Your Student the College First. This seems counter-intuitive, but scheduled tours can take up to 4 hours. Usually, your young adult knows if he or she wants to go there within minutes. Taking a brief visit to a college before planning a scheduled tour can save you a lot of time, as the tours give you details you would only want to know if it were a serious consideration.
4. Remember This is About Them, Not You. This is tougher than you think. It is incredible how much showing your teens colleges will bring back your own college memories. We learned valuable information in our college experience. If we could only do it again, we would do it better or right this time. As we help our kids, this time we can do it right. Right? Wrong. It’s their turn. We’ve had our time and made our decisions. Our responsibility is to help and guide these young adults to make decisions that will help them discover God’s purpose for them and their own purpose in life. Inadvertently treating our children as if they are some extension of our purpose in life will cause tension in our relationships and may even get in the way of God’s plans for them. Of course, they need our help to some degree. As a first generation American, I did not have help applying to colleges. I had to figure it out by myself. Just knowing the process and guiding them through it is a tremendous help. Anything beyond that may cause resentment and stress in your relationship. Give them room to exercise the mind and personality that you helped them to discover. It is sad to know they don’t need us as much as they did. It is also happy because, we’ve done a good job to get them to this point. There is something very beautiful about watching them fly.
5. Keep Emotions Separate. Of course this is not entirely possible. If it is our goal though, it may keep emotions in check. I began my “grieving process” of letting go a few years before it was time to get to work on the college hunt. I like to be prepared and plan ahead! đŸ™‚ I also didn’t want my emotions to get in the way of sound reasoning. The most threatening emotion can be fear. It will ruin your life if it goes unchecked. Yes, fear can keep you safe in a dangerous moment. However, most fear is about events that will never, ever happen. Ever. Creating memory boards can help in the process of letting go. It is a lot of fun to go back through the years and look through photos that are snapshots of the privilege you’ve had to be their parent. Even though you still see them as that cherub who fell asleep in the chair with her angel costume on, they don’t see themselves that way. They are fighting to be seen as the adults you have raised them to be. On the same subject of emotions, give your kids a break too. They can only handle so much at a time. So when your high school senior who has two weeks to choose a college tells you “I can’t talk about it now”, resist the urge to pull a “mama bear”. Try to gently remind them that they will have to think about it soon. I recommend taking deep breaths first, and often.

Having kids go to college is a confusing, emotional and wonderful time. Confusing because they want to go and you are not ready. Wonderful because they are on the next part of their journey. And sad because you cannot go on this next part of their journey with them. Don’t worry though, they will still need you. Just in a different and a little more distant way. My favorite texts form my adults are, “Mom, can I ask you a question…”

Working in an Office Has Never Been This Good! 7 Reasons Desk Sharing is a Good Idea For Your Business

The World of Business is constantly changing. The days of excessively long work hours and isolation at the office are becoming a thing of the past. Researchers have found that employee output falls drastically after 50 hours a week. According to a study published by John Pencavel of Stanford University, adding longer hours to your work week leads to a higher turnover and a higher rate of absenteeism. Companies are also finding other important ways of increasing profits and productivity by changing outdated, stagnant and isolation induced ideas of office work space. For example, many businesses now offer standing desks and running workstations for those who are opposed to, or unable to, sit for long periods of time. This is good news for everyone. The more we move, the more oxygen flows throughout the body. This is both good for health in the body and stimulation of the mind. Furthermore, many employees are ditching old, under producing ideas of separating workers by department. They are now adapting new ways of bringing leaders from different departments together into one work space. This type of desk sharing is taking the business world by storm as it proves itself to contribute to higher productivity which leads to better work environments, and more profits. If you want to create the best work place, increase profits and encourage creative innovation, you will definitely want to know 7 reasons why desk sharing is a good idea for your business.

1. Increases Inspiration and Innovation. Over 20 years ago I attended a conference at a very successful national marketing firm. The key component of their company success was their ability to creatively innovate new and better ways of being successful. How did they do this? The entire team working on an account would fit themselves into a small closet and bounce ideas off of each other. Not exactly rocket science. The idea behind it was to fit the most creative energy of ideas into the smallest space. They got results. Desk sharing allows you to continually share creative space with co-workers (and leave the closet for supplies!)

2. Saves Space and Resources Which Reduces the Cost of Overhead. Multiple desks take up a lot of space. According to an article published by Entrepreneur, Brian Patrick Eha, shares that between 2012 and 2013, a business owner renting an average 1,500-square-foot office, paid $60 more a month. Desk sharing allows you to conduct business in a smaller, more cost efficient space. Office supplies can add up as a significant cost of business. Sharing supplies by using a desk sharing design can save you money on office space and supplies.

3. Builds a Better Working Environment by Creating a Sense of Community. Working together on ideas and efforts for successful projects builds community. Those who feel a sense of belonging to a community are happier and have a sincere, eager desire to help other team members achieve their goals. This increases company productivity. Employees who are happy at work tend to be absent less frequently. Also, having a sense of well-being reduces stress, which in turn, improves overall health. Desk sharing contributes to team building, which creates a sense of community resulting in a more productive and healthier company environment.

4. Keeps Everyone in “The Know” regarding company information. Being kept abreast of changes in information and company direction, increases trust in employees which creates a sense of empowerment and loyalty. Desk sharing allows for fast, easy communication between co-workers allowing them to keep focused on the objective and use time efficiently.

5. More Mobility. Today “mobile” offices are common. Employees are working back and forth at different locations of company offices. Some work from home, on the road or at the client location. We live in a world that is constantly on the move. Desk sharing takes this into consideration. Instead of allocating individual office space that may lay dormant for long period of time, it is more efficient to share a space. In addition, separate desk space may lead to important time sensitive information and files to go unnoticed. Desk sharing keeps company information and files all in one area, even when the employees are mobile.

6. Promotes Information Technology. According to an article published by International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, Jim Greer points out, “Increasingly, organizations are geographically distributed with activities coordinated and integrated through the use of information technology. Such organizations face constant change and the corresponding need for continual learning and the renewal of their workers.” In the modern day world, few work in a vacuum. We are more interconnected than ever before in history. We are also inundated with information and technology like never before. What poses even more of a challenge is the fact that information continues to change at a rapid pace. Desk sharing allows for employees to share updated information technology with their team. Company owners may also choose to put an information technology leader at every work station. This saves time and increases accurate output.

7. Makes it Easier For Employees to Cover For Each Other. Let’s face it, life happens. Employees become ill, take vacations and take time off for family needs or maternity leave. The shared desk space design helps employees to help each other. Close proximity enables co-workers know where each of them are, on certain projects or with each respective client. Information and files are also in a shared location. This makes it easy for another employee to pick up where their team member left of, without losing time. This leads to better efficiency, good customer satisfaction and increased productivity.

Any company or business looking to increase profits by increasing productivity, should seriously think about desk sharing. The concept works for all types and sizes of companies, as they make 2 person workstations, 3 person workstations, 4 person workstations and 6 person workstations. Or, you may want to consider standing or running desks. The point is, the world is constantly changing and moving. We need to keep moving forward with it. Considering the 7 reasons desk sharing is a good idea to improve your business makes sense in creating your perfect work space.

Make a Wish! 5 Steps To Find Your Dream

Several years back I came across someone who talked about dreams a lot. She posed the question, what is your dream? My dream? That’s right. We all have dreams deep inside ourselves. When you have a family, naturally they come first. My answer at that time was that I wanted to raise good children. If I had any dreams outside of my family, I honestly couldn’t remember. There is nothing more important to me. I wasn’t let off the hook because these were my dreams for others. I realized a personal dream has nothing to do with anyone else. It is a call God puts in your heart. It is something you must answer for yourself.

A short time later, I went to a conference. I was standing in the back of the room listening to a friend give her presentation when a lady I had never met, put a medal in my hand and walked away. I opened my hand and on this little medal there was a star. It read, “Good for one wish”. I’m not superstitious, nor did I think there was any special power in this medal, but it made me think. It made me smile. Another prompting to find my dream. Here are 5 things I learned about finding your own personal dream:

1. Dreams cannot be bought or sold. This has nothing to do with buying something like a vacation, a home, name brand clothing or anything else. All that is temporary and not personal. Dreams cannot be sold either. Many people try to sell you their dream for you, which just happens to cost you a lot of money. You do not need to spend a lot of money and line the pockets of “snake oil” salespeople to live your dream. Dreams are expressed through who you are as life unfolds.

2. Take inventory. Try not to think of all of the reasons you cannot find or live your dream. Write down a list of all your skills and attributes. One of my favorite things in life is to discover someone’s talent. EVERYBODY has talent. Discover yours. Chances are you have these strengths to help you do what you were made to do.

3. Don’t give in to fear. I was just reading an article from what I thought was a reputable source. They were sounding the alarm of what they called a certain oncoming terrorist attack on our power grid, citing 9 out of 10 people will die within a year. They almost had me, until I scrolled down to see a product link for a solar powered generator product! (Let me guess, they have a financial interest in selling these generators.) Fear freezes people and keeps them stuck in the status quo. Fear makes us give power to others. Perhaps that’s why people go out of their way to discourage others who have dreams. In the popular movie, FINDING NEMO, Marlin says, “I don’t want anything to happen to Nemo” Dory interjects, “That’s strange you don’t want anything to happen to Nemo?” The only time things get exciting is when things happen. There is a possibility the unknown future could be bad when you take chances, but it is more than likely it will be good. Don’t let fear get in the way of your dreams.

4. Make a plan. Once you find your talents, skills and strengths and get past your fear, write out a plan. Success does not happen overnight. Figure out what you need to get to where you’re going. Great achievements do not happen overnight. It takes hard work, dedication and a great game plan.

5. Be flexible. I love the old saying, “There’s more than one way up a mountain”. If we are too rigid, we may miss wonderful opportunities. Things rarely go as planned. The good news is that every stumbling block, can be one that you build with. Learn to make your mistakes and miscalculations work for you. Reassess often and make appropriate adjustments.

JRR Tolkien wrote, “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.” Every great achievement began with a vision or a thought that it was possible. Each and every person was made for a specific purpose, a role that no other human in history can fill. We all have the gift of the Divine plan called life. If we really want to live, we must reach for the stars and dream big!

The Art of Follow Through, Hitting the Pavement

Ever notice how easy it is to think about helping others? We like the idea. We brand ourselves as being caring. Do we ask ourselves how much do we really give? I mean volunteering that isn’t for show or attention. A behind the scenes, genuine giving, only for the sake of helping others. We find every excuse as to why we cannot contribute or volunteer time or talent. Surely, we are busy with families, careers, aging parents, existing charitable causes, etc. It’s obvious to anyone on social media, there is too much talk about what should to be done, by others of course. Self-proclaimed experts pontificate on how to solve so many desperate problems in the world. The news seems to give more unrest and anxiety. How do we respond? Do we shut it off and find a nice village town at the top of hill in the Italian countryside to live in? (Not that I’ve dreamed about that or anything.) Or, can we all do what needs to be done and give a little more?

Two days ago, I pledged to God and myself I would give more. I didn’t have to think long before I recalled an invitation I had received to attend an open house a few days before, for a not for profit home for unwed mothers and babies in need. My friend Amy, who seems to give endlessly, had been inviting me to this cause for years. This was perfect. I agreed to attend.

On the way there I reminded myself that I’m a single mother of 4, with 3 teenagers. My mom needs extra care. I have work, not mention a few charitable projects that I already work on. A family wedding coming up. Did I mention my fear of commitment? I reviewed the many reasons why I am not able to give much time. I decided to switch my thoughts to, “what CAN I do?” Once I switched my mindset of what I cannot do, to what I can do, the anxiety left me. I can give ideas. That’s what I’m good at. It doesn’t take much time.

The home for mothers is remarkable. Walking in the door, I felt a strikingly good vibe. Kind, friendly faces of the volunteers in a highly efficient, pristine setting. A relatively large group of helpers greeted me with a friendly welcome. What a great contrast to the virtual world of news. This was truly good news! I was met by my beautiful friend, Amy, who gave me a tour. The women and babies are provided with everything they need to survive and thrive, including career training and a personal life coach.

As we began to talk, I mentioned that I truly wanted to help, but in this season of my life, I do not have much time to give. After offering my willingness to give ideas on planning and progress, Amy said, “well isn’t this something?” That’s exactly what we need! We are forming a committee on planning and development. They would meet quarterly and I had you in mind to help out.

What always take me by surprise, is the fact that when I try to help others, I help myself. The environment was so perfect at the home, I didn’t want to leave. Upon leaving, a baby boy, Caden, reached his arms out to me. With delight I held him and played with him for a few minutes. Nothing gives me hope like the smile of a precious baby. Caden reached his little arms out to me as I walked out the door. We had an unspoken conversation as I said to myself, “Yes, Caden. I will be back.”

First blog post

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I’m thrilled to have my own blog. A hundred thousand welcomes to you!

Today I woke up with a boatload of complaints. A classic tight gripped bad mood. My list of everything that is wrong in my life was stuck on repeat in my head. A freelance job didn’t work out the way I had hoped. Someone I thought to be a true person ended up to be false. Projects were not moving ahead fast enough for me. I won’t even mention the lifetime of grudges that seemed to be brand new. It all gave me a headache.

I decided to look up to Heaven. Not in a sanctimonious way. Nor did I take on the “martyr” approach. (Poor me! See how I suffer for love?!) It was more of a real, heart felt, “I know I’m a jerk. I just can’t help it.” Heaven agreed. But the sky didn’t fall on me, my headache didn’t get worse and no one tried to rip my bad mood away from me. My problems didn’t get bigger, or smaller. Time stood still for a few minutes. I sat in silence.

Then, in my mind, a flood of images came like an unwanted invasion. I saw a crying mother with her little boy who was in a hospital bed, sick with no hair. I saw parents standing there as their children are buried. I saw innocent people of all ages ravaged by the affects of cancer. There were numerous images of people without food. They didn’t even have clean water to drink. Bring on my stomach ache, and more silence.

The silence began to fill up with images of all the things I have to be grateful for, too many to count. I hit the “reset button” on the day. The wonderful thing about gratitude is that it makes us move in the right direction. Forward. Not just our own journey forward. Gratitude helps us to see the needs of  others and help them move forward, too. So if you ever feel like a jerk, don’t worry about it. It’s part of the journey. Just hit the “reset button”.