Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Health and Sleeping Naked and What is Your Real Age Quizzes

Sometimes on my blog I address issues that are important to me.

I have been thinking about my health and sleep.

I slept in a really long time. I guess I needed to catch up on my rest. Sometimes I wish I had a stay-at-home job where I could sleep in as much as I need to like I can right now on summer break from teaching. Sleep is only one part of overall health, though.

I logged on to sharecare dot com, making sure to uncheck any boxes that said to email me constantly, because I don't need that. This is a site that is associated with the Dr.Oz show, but I went there to take the 'real age' quiz to see what age my body is. I'm a sucker for quizzes sometimes. I put in my health data, rounding my exercise to an overall number. There were standard health questions, like about diabetes or asthma, but then there was one for hours of sleep, two about quality friendship, one about flossing, one asked how many nuts do you consume, and one asked about sex.  I liked that it addressed some parts of our lives that also influence our health outside of family history and personal exercise habits.

How'd I do?  It calculated that my body is about 5 1/2 years younger than my age. That's really nice. I have a feeling that comes from blood pressure, exercise metrics, lack of family history on some key diseases, and my BMI measurements. One thing I do not know is my cholesterol levels. Those would influence my 'score'. I guess it's time for a check-up, huh? I could use more exercise, more flossing, and more vegetables. Sometimes I need better sleep.

My husband shared a couple articles on the benefits of sleeping naked. (yes, 3 different links.) Of course he had his reasons, backed by statements in these articles.

So, I tried it, but was either too hot with the covers on and too cold with them off. I tossed an turned and got a sucky night's sleep. I guess I need to adjust the temperature before bedtime, or turn the fan on and grab the covers.

 But were the statements in the articles true? Yeah, there is an increase in intimacy and a cool dry feeling in the nether regions. I can't say much yet for the skinnier me, or the cortisol effects since I clearly had a stressful night. I'll try it again, though.

Might even get a nap today.

Sleep is good!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dear 12-Year-Old Writer-Me

I know lately I've been posting all ME ME ME, MY BOOK THIS, MY BOOK THAT, but self-publishing is all about self-promotion. The free Kindle version sale is about to end and I have to plan for the next big thing. (My smashwords books are always free.)

Camp Nanowrimo! 

I've set a goal for only 30,000 words in July. It seems like you would ask:  "Why only 30K? This is SUMMER, Woman! You have nothing to do but write!", but I know life will get in the way. Plus, at the end of July I will be planning more intensively for my new school year.

To prepare, I have written an outline for the new work I want to work on. This fantasy novel has been in notebooks, written down since I was like 12. It's time I gave it an adult spin. It's time I showed my 12 year old self that I believe in her and what a good writer I have grown into.

Dear 12-year-old writer-me,  
Your ideas are awesome! Continue to write them down because you will never lose them that way. Go ahead and fall in love and out of love so you can write about that, too. In fact, you already know a lot about love and people want to read about it. 
Having an obsession with paper is okay.
Keep drawing and doodling and studying. 
Study people, know people's emotions, because you will have to learn to write them well, and work with them, too. You will need to find Beta Readers, keep a job, and feel lonely without friends so get to know people. They are important.
Someone will love you for who you are, so don't compromise on yourself. 
Keep being a good friend. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable, not just empathetic. You'll make closer friends. Finding friends as an adult is much harder. Life teaches you to be on guard, to not wear your heart on your sleeve, but that is not what difference-makers do. Live. Love. Dream.

I was pretty well set on the path to writing greatness when I was younger. I didn't know it at the time, but I knew I had a great imagination, a love for people, was quite observant, and I had a thirst for knowledge, especially social knowledge.

As I got a bit older, I loved camp, too. :) I think I tried to write a book outline about camp, but it never amounted to much...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sometimes I Like To Art

I decided to paint today; inspired by one of those art workshops where you paint and have snacks and wine and everyone laughs and ends up with a decent copy of the same work. I saw pictures from one of them that a friend posted on facebook and I felt compelled to paint my own.

It became a two part little series. I'm not sure I'm finished with it yet. I may do a little bit more shading or refining.

I like birch trees, I like birds, and I wanted to do more of a Fall/Autumn thing, but the blue sky came out wintery and cold. I stuck a few leaves on anyway, like 'Hang in there little buddies. Dream of spring and summer." The stormy blue is calm, though, like the hush of the winter has arrived and the land is waiting on the snow. The bird's color ties the piece together.

Overall, I like the bones of the piece.

What do you think?

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Go Read and Review my Free Ebook "Alex in Hunterland"

Alex in Hunterland is a parody of Alice in Wonderland, but with a redneck spin. See if you can find all the 'redneck' stereotypes in this work.

Alex, scared of his drunken Step-Father, seeks solace in the gun cabinet. Climbing in, he discovers a world with an elusive snowshoe hare whose pelt would make his Step-Father proud of him and maybe stop hitting him. Chasing the rabbit, he encounters an array of characters and nonsensical outcomes. 

Please also give me some stars and a review! This is a quick read, at just under 2,000 words. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Get a FREE Kindle copy of my book!

Beginning June 22, 2015, there will be a 5-day FREE download of Abandoned in Cocal.

This is for Kindle only.

The paperback version has a different cover, due to the channels used to produce it. Hey, I'm new to this! I'll get it right next time.

Please read it and leave me a review on Amazon. Ideally, since the paperback version has a different page, it would be awesome for you to post your review on that page as well. Copy/paste and submit. Pretty Please?

I know that is asking a lot, but I guess I'm greedy.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Exciting News!

Today I have self-published my first book!

This was a long time in coming. I had attempted this book in 2008-2009 when I wrote it as a Nanowrimo novel and used the winning promotions to self-publish. However, I was in too much of a hurry and submitted a draft rather than a polished copy. Ashamed, I let it stagnate.

I tried to do a full re-write but lost that document in a computer crash. I was devastated.

Until I found the original.

This month, I woke it back up. I did some research and made it better. It has a new title, new cover (or two), and a little bit of new content. The bones were good. It didn't need all the change I thought it did. I'm happy with it. It makes a good first novel. It may not be huge, but it is not terrible.

It is now LIVE on Amazon (link coming), Kindle DirectCreateSpace, and Goodreads (link coming). There will be a promo or a giveaway.

Also, I have a shiny new facebook author page. https://www.facebook.com/elshahawk . Please go and like it.

I've also tried my hand at NO Content books. I made a couple of cute homework planners.

In the works is a new short story for free on smashwords, and the beginnings of a new manuscript. :)

Stay tuned for more!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Parents Vs. Teacher: Discipline, How Do We Fix This?

As a teacher, you need parents to back you up. 

When you are trying to teach your student, their child, to follow directions and not back talk, roll their eyes, or cause a disruption, you need the parent to understand the situation and support the actions of the teacher to correct the student's behavior.

When this doesn't happen and the parents are upset at how things are handled with their child, a rift forms between the school from the administration level, who will defend the teacher, to the student's level, who comes to school with snarky remarks about how they were rewarded at home and their parents hate the teacher or school.

The student may learn to threaten the teacher with their parents' intrusion, misbehave in a way to get the administrator's attention either as a way to 'punish' the teacher, or as a way to simply get attention and have a story to tell the parents at home.

The bottom line is doing what is best for the student. The student cannot back talk adults. The student cannot go to the administration office every time they feel like it, because the teacher is 'driving them crazy'. There are rules. Those rules promote a respect-filled classroom and lead to a respect-filled adulthood for any boss in any future career.

What should the teacher do?

1. Promote positive discipline strategies. Get your administration on board, share your concerns, have a plan in place, then begin implementing a reward system. You may already have one, but it needs changed for this one student. Be visual, collect concrete data, reward with tangible objects. Give stickers, check marks that collect to earn a prize, behavior dollars, whatever the student and parent can see. If the student doesn't earn a reward, be specific as to why. Tell the student exactly what you expect. "You did not complete your work. I cannot give you a sticker for completing your work. I do like how you kept trying!"

2. Don't begin a bargaining war. "If you just do one more, then you can get a reward." Once you set the guidelines you HAVE to follow them.

3. Collect Data. Collect data on missed homework, behavior, or the behaviors specific to the parent's concerns. If Johnny or Susie did not get a sticker for three periods in a row, write down why and keep this data close at hand. If the parent wants to see their child's behavior chart data, show them. If a child has a meltdown, write out a description of the entire event. If possible, as it is happening with every word and every action, but if not, try to write down an account as soon as possible so it is fresh in your mind.

What Can Parents Do?

1. Establish clear communication with the teacher. Get all sides of the story. Perhaps the child is playing both sides of the field. Maybe the teacher is not using an effective strategy. Email the teacher frequently. Ask for a behavior chart to go home. Call, write, or even text. Programs like Engrade have an email feature built in, so when you check your child's grades, you can send a note to the teacher.

2. Give suggestions for effective strategies. You know your child, Ask for data, ask for a reward system. Work with the teacher to resolve issues. You can't expect miracles, but you can expect informed changes to be made.

3. Ask your child to give you specific examples. If all they can say is 'the teacher drives me crazy' or 'the teacher hates me', get more information. Was the child misbehaving? Did they get caught when a friend actually started it? Were they paying attention to the lesson? Did they talk back? What was actually said? Document it in an email query. Get to the bottom of it.

But as a teacher, please parents, if your child says they are upset because they didn't earn a reward, don't go out and buy that reward for them. Pacifying children this way reinforces their misbehavior at school and undermines the teacher's work. The reward is no longer appealing and therefore the student has no reason to behave in class.

Good Articles:

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Sunday, June 7, 2015

3 Small Steps to Fight Back Against Depression

Depression is a disease. But that means there is a treatment. Some of it is medical, with therapies and drugs, but there is a part that is metaphysical. YOU!

The opposite of self-depreciation is self-confidence. I know this part is hard and it doesn't happen every day. You need to start small. Pick a day or time you feel 'okay' and ready to make some plans for the future. 

What to do to get self-confidence: 

1. Journal or share one good thing that happened that day or the previous one. Explore your feelings in written form or out loud. Maybe ask a friend to share one thing they like about you. Tell someone a happy memory you had with them, or ask them to share a happy memory of you. 
Focus on the pride in yourself. 

2. Next, you need a set of goals for the day, the week, the month, and the year. Perhaps it is simply that you not miss a class, wear a new vibrant color, try a new restaurant, or visit a fun public place. 

3. Lastly, you need to reward yourself for a job well-done. Maybe you finish your homework so you listen to a favorite radio station. This is the first step to self-love - self-respect and allowing yourself to have good thoughts and a treat for good choices.

Feel SUPER! You did it!

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Summer 2015: 3 Steps to Fun

It is officially summer break here in the States. School is out and my calendar is full. I am trying my best to make the most of this break.

Step 1 is planning.
As I mentioned before, my calendar is full. However, that doesn't mean that we will make every event. Some of the days simply say 'writing day'. Which leads me to part 2 of this step and that is that while I have given myself the gift of writing, I need to plan my next moves. Firstly, I need to give myself a deadline and write to it. Then I need to edit to the next one, and publish to the last one.

Step 2 is breaking.
Summer is still a break, so I need to remember to give myself one! Not every shopping excursion, trip to a water park, or even a hike on a trail is a filled with relaxation. I don't even have my hammock up yet! These breaks are essential for creative thinking. Sometimes I take a break by watching a show and doodling or coloring, yet I still find myself desiring a quiet time.

Step 3 is doing.
Why plan fun stuff with the kids, breaks, or outings if you don't do them? We've already begun our trips to the library for books, and had one successful fun shopping excursion. But there's so much more to do!
library by vladstudio

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