Life’s a blazing blur

3764133068_fd4f23e736_z Down to the wire, life has been a frenzied, blazing blur all of January, February, and March with teaching middle and high school level classes, writing research papers, designing presentations, planning and completing two education conferences, and having progressive interviews for a principalship in Silicon Valley. The latter which I have just returned from today. Now we wait for the final verdict.

The premeditated strategy to stay ultra busy in hopes of not having time to curse Chicago’s lousy winter weather was a success, and it helped that this El Nino gave us a milder span of confinement. Having the chance to travel and escape it a few times helped too. Yet the stress of being overbooked with commitments resulted in my decision to suspend my participation in some favored volunteer activities for the next year because I realized that there has not been enough time to do some things I’d intended to pursue for nearly three years. With prospects of a relocation and ultra responsible obligation to a school community, I may only have a few months to accomplish those items on my list– but it is all good.

By the way, my 6th grade classes I’d written about in my previous blog are much improved in conduct and we have definitely made some great strides and connections. Being a democratic class community, I found it surprising that students voted to return to the traditional rows versus desk clusters. What they did ask for, and I approved, was that they could relocate themselves to sit by favored classmates. This was with the understanding that I could veto the arrangements if they were unable to focus or became disruptive. I’m greatly enjoying their progress and look forward to the next unit on Ancient Rome. They’ve asked to do skits!

Also pleasing to me is the interest in the school, where I interviewed, to encourage students to pursue some of the more creative and expressive avenues in art, writing, and media. I do believe they are on the right track to recognize these as significant pursuits which can enhance student motivation and ownership of their education. That’s a formula for success.

I am very blessed and grateful with how my efforts and prayers have resulted in rich rewards. Stay tuned for what should be an interesting springtime of emergence.

 

 

5 Tips for a Better Year

 

Holiday breaks can foster fertile ideas and hopefully you have made solid plans for your entrepreneurial intentions. Yet, even if you are not an entrepreneur per se, you may have had ideas of ways you wish to improve your life. With that, allow me to share some tips with you, as I’ve had some fun conning myself at times to do the nasty but necessary tasks that I’ve preferred to defer, but just knew that I had to do.

I think it was Brian Tracy that coined the term “Eat That Frog” as a title for one of his books. This zany phrase was extrapolated from Mark Twain who described that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, then that is probably the worst thing that will happen all day. The gist of it is that with the myriad of distractions in our lives, be sure to knock off the most vital thing you can prioritize in order to gain traction; eat that frog.

For me yesterday, I updated and renewed a FAFSA application with my child who is in college. Everything else-albeit more pleasurable-took second place to “eating that frog.” Today it is writing lesson plans, for I am returning to the classroom for some part time social studies at middle school and high school levels. This will give me the pleasure of satisfying my “kid fix” while funding my other entrepreneurial tools that I want to explore. The only downside is that I’ll have to join the early riser club again, but it is probably for the best.

Every day, I have a huge amount of useless emails that I typically don’t even open after scanning the subject line because I do not find them relevant to my needs. Consequently, they pile up and I periodically unsubscribe or at least bulk delete several times each year. The reason I acquire so much email is that I find many free resources that give benefits, but at a certain point it becomes clear that subsequent offerings don’t interest me, are not coming at an opportune time, or cost more than I am willing to invest. Purge unnecessary emails. Ditto; for smartphone apps that free up more memory.

The tips on decluttering from Marie Kondo still give me “spark joy,” but it is deep winter now and I have no need for chiffon blouses, Boho skirts, and lightweight workout apparel. In fact, I’m recovering from a Baker’s Cyst (getting drained and having a Cortisone shot was like eating a frog!) that put brakes on my typically athletic lifestyle, so until I mend it seems joyful to thin out warm weather clothes from closets and drawers, except for what I will wear to present at the West Coast Education Forum in Newport Beach in mid-January.

Lastly, with high expectations for a productive year, it makes sense to calendarize, in order of priorities, all the work, personal projects and dates you intend to pursue. This includes writing and marketing campaigns, content creation, social dates, and vacations. For me, if I put it on my calendar, it is going to be done-even if it’s within a few days of my posting-so fill 2016 with a seriously accountable calendar of things that matter to you!

Hope you have the best, healthiest, happy and prosperous year ever.

Multipotentialite: How I Connect Business and Education

IMG_1473 Multipotentialite: How I Connect Business and Education

They said, “You have to choose between Business and Education.” But they complemented each other, and I always knew it in my gut that I belong comfortably in both realms. Similarly, students are relegated to silos of educational disciplines via courses or major declarations, but reality dictates that integrated knowledge provides greater bases for decisions. That is one of the reasons I created Genius School, Inc.

There is a term for people like me, I am a multipotentialite. That is, I have a lot of knowledge, strengths, and areas of insight and experience. Chalk it up to 50 plus years of living and having a low threshold for boredom. In fact, I have a joie de vie for learning all kinds of things, which I believe garner me the right to crow a bit about them.

With humility, I do have some weaknesses; but at the end of the day I am a teacher. And although my LinkedIn profile chronicles my professional climb, there is much more in my bag of resources and network.

Through my escapades I have designed and sold both residential and commercial security systems. There were also sales ventures of clothing, fine furs, skin care, Native American pottery and jewelry. I’ve mastered a number of eclectic cuisines, created various marketing campaigns, taught myself and made money while staying home with my kids doing medical transcription, taught elementary Arabic, middle and high school social studies courses, homeschooled one of my children, taught standardized test reviews, became a school guidance counselor, managed a diverse staff when I served as a school administrator, provided training to schools, managed a number of professional development events and am an accreditation specialist. I have sourced and shipped container loads of products overseas through one of my companies, counseled business owners, taught entrepreneurship workshops, put together a trade magazine, written articles, promoted other companies and organizations, and designed and managed websites and social media campaigns. On the home front, I have painted, gardened, fixed plumbing, changed countertops, installed ceramic flooring, changed the sump pump, repaired electrical wiring and installed fixtures, and handled basic automotive maintenance. Lately, I am exploring several aspects of visual content creation for another of my businesses. Besides these, I enjoy dabbling in foreign languages, various forms of athletic pursuits, and reading up on the environment, geography, nutrition, and medicine.

In some cultures, one gets shot down for bragging about accomplishments; but I think having done a lot has seasoned and gifted me with wisdom and the capacity to teach and help other people to learn, create, and build.

Education is the common denominator; business is the instrument to actualize that knowledge for the benefit of mankind. I have been truly blessed that I can indulge my curiosity on a number of fronts. That diversity is what characterizes a multipotentialite. If you want to know more about this topic, visit puttylike.com. Who wants to join me?

Health is Wealth

Picture1 Plenty of olive oil, halal meat and poultry, gentle exercise, sleep, and I try to use organic produce. Joy of joys! I’m back from my annual physical with great news that my C-reactive protein (CRP), which indicates systemic inflammation, is the lowest the doctor had ever seen!

These results are a gift of good genes, but I also attribute them to my lifestyle. As I am self-employed, I have the ability to design my day. Not many people enjoy that luxury, but it certainly can be done with planning. I feel like Superwoman and am charged up!

Another mainstay of my habits is to indulge in quality organic coffee, served black, and I typically keep a filtered water bottle close by. And I share this with you so that you can check your own habits because although the body can compensate for some assaults in dietary choices, it is best not to drive it toward too much acidity. Now that the autumn clouds are rolling in and we are less likely to process vitamin D from sunshine, our immunity typically pulls back. Sweets, processed junk, and too much food take a heavier toll.

Let’s face it, life gets more stressful in these months too, but I have effectively mitigated that with prayer and reading Qur’an. Also, it is important to like what you do, for how you spend your days is how you spend your life. Make it grand! Learn, love, share, and remember the special people in your life.

For those near Chicago, Whipping Up An Income (for Entrepreneurial Women) may be for you. It will feature Yvonne Maffei of My Halal Kitchen and Susan Labadi of Genius School, Inc. It happens this weekend, so get your tickets now.

Summer, Summer, Summer Time!

SAMSUNG Summer, Summer, Summer Time!

With one son gone to Italy for a stint teaching English, we have swapped in our nephew who arrived early for our daughter’s August wedding. It promises to be an interesting summer, especially with Ramadan starting next week, as it will have the longest days of the year for fasting.

Due to family—and extended family—obligations, business took a backseat, but I’m back on track. Though I enjoy the benefit of a flexible schedule, sometimes I have to put a hard stop on letting other people map my course. It is one of the banes of working from home; but between the weather (seems like Northern Europe-rainy) thwarting my usual outdoor activities (biking, tennis, golf, and walking) and prioritizing family, I realized that I was neglecting my life design vision and it was time to retrench and do some strategic planning.

My group of entrepreneurial-minded women deserves so much credit for helping to objectively critique, give advice, and share resources. We brainstorm to find answers to a variety of hurdles. Probably the most valuable though, is the accountability it entails. I find myself rushing to do what I’d intended to have done before the next meeting just before deadline. Don’t most of us work this way?

In our last gathering, it seemed to be a common phenomenon to have naysayers, problems with focus, scheduling projects, and keeping family from resenting our business activities. When the efforts result in low returns, it is hard to convince family that the work is worthwhile. Yet, we know that priming the pump is necessary and that solid planning builds a firm foundation. Those who persevere and keep refining their strategies are able to stay in the game.

I recall Maya Angelou revealing that to write she often sought out a motel room and a bottle of bourbon to allow herself the chance to focus and work uninterrupted on her writing. I’ve dreamt of remote artist retreats where I could focus and let my thoughts pour out (without the bourbon) to complete projects long held in mind but unable to nail down due to distractions. However, my family is not ready to cut me loose to that extent yet. I’ll just have to find a way by pushing through with whatever constraints are there. For most people, they have regular routines and set schedules. One of the things I do like about my life though is that schedules change daily, and I resist, or more accurately rebel, against routines. It keeps me fresh.

Discovering technologies, learning new buzz terms, meeting people doing interesting things, these are what excite me and I am lucky to be part of it on a global scale. I’ve always felt that the whole world is home, and that there are many things to explore. With technologies today, I can experience it from the comfort of my home, and stay on top of trends. This is how I can help others as well, and I deliver a wealth of insight to my clients based on these observations.

Fortune has come to me from the wonderful people I have been blessed to meet and work beside. It is a privilege to train, advise, and promote folks doing important work in Education and the Halal industries, and soon you will see a new website for the American Halal Association with a Halal directory. Stay tuned for more, as I have entered into an accelerator program!

Muslim Women’s Alliance-Celebration of the Muslim Woman

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With Yvonne Maffei of My Halal Kitchen

 

Each year the Muslim Women’s Alliance (MWA) luncheon hails the we’re almost there emergence of springtime with a sold-out gathering of 500 diverse Muslim women in Chicagoland. It attracts women from daughters to grandmothers and from a multitude of ethnicities, which is characteristic of Islam. They come to get reconnected after winter’s cabin fever, network, and celebrate accomplishments of their own cadre.

This year featured three award winners whose contributions to society were made public. Dorothy Habibah Collins, Founder of Sisters Nurturing Sisters, a non-profit that offers transitional and permanent housing on Chicago’s South-side, described her own start with sincerely wanting to help a woman and child who only earned about $300 each month and were having to set up their sleeping arrangements in a public park. She felt awful to not be able to do more than offer encouragement, but it galvanized her desire to do more for other women who she would help through her organization.

Another winner was Um Serage Rahima, the loving Prinicipal of Al-Siddiq Weekend School for over 20 years. She warmly related the gratification she feels when former students now enroll their children in her school, and she teaches classes in mosques and homes all around the city and suburbs. A life-long learning of several topics in Islam, she is certified in Quranic recitation and is a resource for many.

The final recipient of the MWA award is Joohi Tahir, who has had a successful corporate career in sales and marketing for over 20 years and is the mother of a 13 year old daughter with Autism. In her story, she related the challenges faced by many in the Muslim community, and she recently went into the non-profit world as Executive Director of Muslims Understanding & Helping Special Education Needs (MUHSEN). Her organization seeks to create awareness, build programs, and provide much needed services across America that will strive for inclusion of all members of the Muslim community. Their first fundraising banquet is this Saturday, March 7th in Garland, Texas.

MWA awards scholarships, provides events every month, and is actively seeking volunteers to empower, support, engage, and build leadership and community service by women. Embodying the spirit of a woman who humbly sought to do something in the interest of social justice, the keynote speaker was Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, she is a Brooklyn-based activist who is gaining much publicity nationally for her accomplishments.

Sarsour spoke of the day she realized that she, a mother of teenagers, could make an impact. She simply helped someone for whom she felt she should offer assistance, and the effect raised her consciousness to learn that simply doing a little something can have a major boost to help someone who could not help themselves.

During the luncheon, the attendees were reminded of the many names and headlines from this past year that have born introspection about injustice and feelings of helplessness. Sarsour struck a note with the crowd when she related that upon learning of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, she hopped a plane to see for herself what was reality. She shared several observations, but among them was one that again jolted a revelation. When the protesters were bombarded by police with tear gas, Palestinians in Gaza were Tweeting about how to deal with tear gas attacks. The connection and desire felt from a subjugated population who sought to help Americans was astounding. It was from this that Sarsour cited that no matter how small we think we are, we must speak up. Together, we are a significant power that can bring positive results.

She reminded the audience that politicians are supposed to work FOR THE PEOPLE. The People have a responsibility to engage in dialogue and qualify their representation. That is America. We have to speak up to pave a better future for our children. We have to engage and contribute more to our communities. Give a little, for you never know how great that can be for someone today.

How Hard Should You Press? Motivating the Unmotivated

 How Hard Should You Press? Motivating the Unmotivated

“Whiplash” (2014) yields the question, “How hard should you press?” It is a film written and directed by Damien Chazelle which brings a surge of nostalgic appreciation for grit, as an elite competition jazz band director, played brilliantly by J.K. Simmons, squeezes primal rage, and ultimately a perfect performance, from a protégé drummer, also exquisitely cast with Miles Teller. If you like a sublime hyper percussion thrill, you will have to seek the jolting 9 minutes raw performance finale.

Wrapping up a 6-week stint teaching high school English, I pondered one of the classic lines of the film, when Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the director, states, “There are no two words in English language more harmful than ‘good job’.” He refers to how soft our expectations and work ethic have become.

Since when did it seem acceptable to be “good enough?” Have we litigated our society into fear or complacency? I remember when we lauded personal sacrifice and commitment. I counsel teachers, “If you take garbage from students, this is exactly what students will give you.” Imagine my chagrin to find short responses to simple essay questions reminiscent of 2nd grade level from 9th graders! It is not rocket science, nor is it wasted effort to employ the “re-do”, multiple times if necessary to learn to do things correctly. The recent teaching assignment validated that this tactic works beautifully to encourage small successes that further motivate students to employ effort, and this is relevant to business management as well as within school communities.

Back in the day, Coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers had Greek god aura for how his no-nonsense, hard-core, driven methods that brought men to meet their potential. As a Chicago Bears fan of the early 80s, I witnessed Coach Mike Ditka, known for his crusty, crabby, take-no-crap stance, who also brought solid performance from a team that inspired fans.

We have a book, Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, by Tim S. Grover, that is being read among us at my house. Grover was a trainer for basketball greats Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Kobe Bryant, among others. He describes the common denominator in these stellar athletes as their ability to find their “dark side” of competitive intensity and blind commitment to work themselves toward super human excellence, whatever the cost.

Both Whiplash and my own sensibility though questions, to what degree? The legendary coaches that come to mind are Bela Karolyi, Bill Bowerman, Tom Landry, and Pat Riley. They certainly actualized potential into reality for countless fans, and we praise their efforts. However, there undoubtedly had to be some casualties along the way. Not everyone can play in the highest league, but everyone should play to their best for the league in which they reside. The Special Olympics come to mind, and I appreciate the message they give to society. With effort, everyone can elevate themselves, and the ultimate competition is within one’s self.

I’d say though, that every teacher, every coach, every parent can do no wrong to at least set the expectation, and like spring rain on good seeds within fertile soil, see what grows!

Some are destined to be “good enough,” but let’s not gyp those who with challenge and encouragement can aspire toward greatness. We need to raise the bar by our own example and help our youth to rise.

Space, Time, and Zilzar

Orion_Belt thumb

Pause at the vastness of space, and ponder our place in the universe. We all have a role to play, though we may seem insignificant compared to the magnitude of Creation.

The film, Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey, is a must-see because it allowed me to ponder Creation and the Creator. The movie will find favor from physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers because it validates these sciences relative to the impending threats to our collective existence.

The story takes place a bit into the future when fertile America has become a dust bowl and startlingly suffers from volatile weather all over our fragile planet. It presents deception perpetrated by governments and the fabrication of events to maintain social order.

The film has a poignant scene whereby a school teacher contends that federally sanctioned history books inform that the Apollo missions were all a hoax designed to bankrupt the Soviet Union into spending on space research; yet, she is unaware that NASA really does exist on a covert basis under an alias so as not to upset people who struggle to find food and staple crops not yet extinct.

It would be pivotal if this movie sparks more students to study physics, math, and computer science, as well as agriculture, botany, and environmental studies because the scenario graphically revealed in this film could be a catalyst to a generation of scientists motivated and inspired like we were in the 1960s.

There are also concepts of time relative in distance and the transcendence of love. As the protagonist, played by McConaughey, leaves his family for outer space, the phenomena of time travel and parallelism are well rendered. The story had deeper significance for me too because as he understands the gravity (pun) of his decision, I am also considering a potential solo travel to a school principalship in Malaysia for at least two years. The thoughts of separation from my family arose as I watched the film. We are awaiting bureaucratic progress (an oxymoron) before finalizing the decision to purchase tickets to explore the prospects firsthand, and there are many factors to weigh.

The school is striving to open for the January term, but that adds more conflict to my decision since I am slated to present on the topic of teacher and principal evaluations at the West Coast ISNA Education Forum in that month, and I am serving on another forum planning team for their spring conference.

Adding to the time/distance hyper awareness are the facts that my spouse has been in Jordan and the West Bank for three weeks (+8 hours), I tackled an extensive editing job for Thomson Reuters’ Dubai office (+9 hours), a friend in the UK (+7 hours) has been giving me counsel about Malaysia (+14 hours), and members of my education forums are in California (-2 hours); so that, combined with my kids’ late night schedules, has me mentally flexing a lot. It makes for a cerebral time warp, and I feel compelled to get up and work after 4 hours of sleep. I do force myself to stay under the covers though, even if I’d spent the past hour sending messages from bed on my smartphone.

The saying, “Like ships that pass in the night,” comes to mind as my husband will land just 45 minutes after my son and I fly to New Jersey for the American Muslim Consumer Conference where I will once again be the emcee. It is an event that I am greatly looking forward to because the folks there are dynamic, and they are doing great things for the world via commerce.

Also relating to commerce are two more things, DHL and Zilzar. DHL Express hosted a luncheon meeting this past week and featured a speaker who stated that 87 percent of global commerce and 90 percent of consumers are outside the U.S. He essentially made the point to the representatives of companies in the audience that they had better be doing business outside the U.S. With significant numbers of people unemployed or underemployed, and many of my generation considered obsolete and out of touch with the global economy, this brings me to appreciate Zilzar.

Zilzar could be the next eBay or Alibaba, in that it levels the playing field to benefit small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) through an online platform intended to facilitate trade, communication, and provide access to an evolving global community who do not really perceive national borderlines. This is my world!

Subscribers can register with no charge and are welcome to just read content, access and participate in the information exchange, or they can have free virtual storefronts to do business with the world. MasterCard has signed on to securely handle transactions.

This portal recently launched on October 29, so don’t be put off by some sparsity. Get in on the ground floor. Leaders will be more visible on this site compared to eBay or Amazon where it is hard to get noticed and where sellers are paying increasingly higher fees for listing and transactions. I am going to be promoting Zilzar over the next year because I believe in it, but I would encourage everyone to sign on for at least an account to see where this company goes. The world is not flat and potential is enormous!

You can get a better sense of it from this YouTube video http://youtu.be/1fh3gTZykCo

Goodbye September!

Bursts of Color! Goodbye September!
Each year I indulge to buy The September Issue in late August, and I consistently find that I do not get to enjoy it until October! September is typically packed with commitments and a flurry of activities I succumb to the whim to pursue, since the indoor-bound winter approaches. This year was exceptionally eventful, as I successfully tackled some of my long held Bucket List items.

√ The “M” designation for my driving license. I can now legally operate a motorcycle since passing a week-long course at the community college.
√ The dream of biking along the shoreline of Lake Michigan to enjoy the views of downtown Chicago as well as the beaches, boats, and beautiful part district facilities going towards Irving Park Road.
√ Learning to sail too, thanks to one of my sons who initiated the search on GroupOn for the experience to do it also on Lake Michigan. He is in love with water and nature in general, and our outing helped galvanize his career direction; or so we think, knowing how college students often shuffle their majors.

Along with packing in these activities were some personal and professional milestones and meet-ups which I anticipate will culminate in strengthening my entrepreneurial growth and finances.

True to my promise, I am surprisingly doing quite well so far in my Coursera MOOC, Introduction to Financial Accounting with Professor Brian Bushee of the Wharton School of Business. Another course, Introduction to Business Finance (Stanford) starts next week, and I’d better speed read through the Foundation Trilogy in order to accommodate juggling two courses while also planning for 3 educational events and prepare to emcee for the AMCC in mid-November.

My schedule typically runs in spurts. At a recent luncheon meeting with some of my favorite female entrepreneurs, we talked about how crazy busy we often are, but one of them said, “Sue, you make time for LIVING.” True, but it’s only because sometimes I bury myself deep in focused work, to the exclusion of my exercise, and that is why I’ve decided to take a walk in the sun, swing on a swing in the park (good core toner), and write today. I have two appointments scheduled later, but I know that the work will always be there, nice weather will not.

Besides, without a bit of self-care, the body feels miserable and blood pressure issues rise, literally. Health must be respected, and with it comes empowerment and the ability to conceive marvelous things. Many folks out there have job commitments that seem to torpedo their hope for fitness and balance; but take my advice and do get out of the building for fresh air and exercise. Do not plop into sitting at a restaurant that exacerbates the sedentary lifestyle many settle for. Take a walk, bike, swing, and dream. It’s a beautiful world out there, so make your plan to greet it to do something beneficial.

In this time of shifting economies and globalization, make yourself more valuable. There is always something new to learn and do, and MOOCs are a great way to take advantage of this. It was revealing for me to learn that in my accounting course, 33 percent of the enrollees were from the U.S., but 11 percent were signed in from India and 10 percent from China. The demographics indicated 104,000 people enrolled. They were mostly between the ages of 20 and 40, and most were working full-time jobs. With that knowledge, there is no excuse for anyone to stagnate. Even in regard to many who feel they are underemployed, the call is to level up higher because it is becoming increasingly apparent that single major subjects for college degrees are not sufficient for the highest paying jobs. That is the message I will deliver to high school counselors next week at Northwest Suburban College. They secured their accreditation, and now we hope to expedite enrollment of students in the fast-track basic science courses that also transition students toward potential MD degrees within 5 years.

In regard to college enrollment and international students, it should also be noted that the highest percentage of foreign students in U.S. colleges are from Korea, followed by China, and then Saudi Arabia. It would be interesting to explore the perceptions of U.S. schools at this time from the perspective of people from these countries. Write to me if you have first-hand knowledge of this as a native from outside the U.S., as many colleges are ready to welcome foreign students.

Agh! I hear a motorcycle, as I pause to find the next topic and relish the green grass and sunshine around the picnic table at this park, but it is time to hike back to my office, post this blog, pray, and get ready for my next two appointments.
–Goodbye September! You’ve been great!

Summer's Finale

The Mad Scientist in Me

msc50cvr Before the regular football season games begin, I scurried to book activities into my schedule. For starters, after waiting about 30-some years for my parenting responsibilities to decrease, I’ve finally committed to a Motorcycling Basics and Licensure course along with my daughter and her fiancé. It has simply been one of those things, probably since watching James Bond films in my youth that hung on my bucketlist.

Another commitment has been to coordinate with my youngest son and his sister for an intermediate sign language course with our local park district. She has had two courses at university level and my son took the introductory course awhile back. I used to know at least the alphabet back in 7th grade when my girlfriend taught it to me so that we could have covert communications while our teacher’s back was turned! Wanting to keep the knowledge intact for my kids, I thought that I could bone up with some flashcards and join them in the advanced level class. You never know, as hearing is fading within some of our household bunch, it may come in handy one day!

We also have several MacBooks among us, and we have never taken any formal training. Fortunately, the Apple store offers free workshops in our area, so I’ve scheduled a suite of them over the next couple of weeks just to facilitate my use. I typically use a PC laptop and am entirely familiar with it, but there are certain features available to Mac users that I’d like to explore. Additionally, I have prospects of working with a colleague to coach teachers in the use of iPads, and I determined that I would benefit from picking up more tech skills that I can share.

Lastly, there are prospects to venture toward in open courseware. I am ready to make some decisions on what to schedule and in what order. While having some familiarity with several Learning Management Systems (LMS), I would certainly enjoy experiencing from a student’s perspective what notable professors are doing with online learning.

In the near term, I’m very excited about a photo shoot scheduled for tomorrow. My cronies have convinced me that I should consolidate my diverse businesses into a branded site. I envision a single portal which branches into each of my sectors that I am known for and for which I have already established some websites. We’ll see how that evolves. This is one for which I would appreciate any constructive feedback, www.geniusschoolonline.com. I’m aware that it still needs some edits.

My thoughts have been spanning space and time lately—while biking and weeding the garden—to my longtime friend Sheila, whom I met in 5th grade. To this day, we correspond twice a year, in the middle of winter and middle of summer. I was reminded of her today when a friend challenged me to cite 10 books that had somehow influenced my life. That list included the following:
The Holy Qur’an
The Mad Scientists Club
Siddhartha
The Road to Mecca
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Fit For Life
The Jungle
Fahrenheit 451
See You At the Top
The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone

Sheila became my friend about the time I’d read The Mad Scientist Club, and that set my interest in science, skepticism of authority, and problem solving. I found a loyal friend in Sheila who was intelligent, industrious, and kind; while I was a bit of a tomboy, and found humor and novelty to be amenable to my personality–kind of like the boys of the book. Sheila was the voice of reason; I was the voice of “why not?” To this day, when we talk we find that we are still the same, and time and distance have not changed anything in our relationship and feelings are the same. In fact, we cry a bit at the conclusion of our calls. Writing is easier on the heart, and there is always so much to share.

Life has its struggles, and I suppose it is somewhat Freudian to be defensively impersonal while we course through each day mindful of how things are with each other. Work is cathartic and aspirations are running high for the means to be free and able to play like kids once more.