I wrote a letter to the Library Journal editor to send my congratulations to the Little Free Library Co-founders Todd Bol and Rick Brooks for being named the Movers & Shakers 2013 – Innovators by the Library Journal! My letter was published in the May 1st edition of the Journal.
The News about discontinuing class rank
On May 7, I received an email from my son’s East Ridge High School with the subject “class rank information session.” The message was to inform that class rank would be discontinued next year.
Here is part of the message:
“As students prepare to be admissions ready by completing college applications, class rank becomes a topic of intense conversation. Each of the District’s three high schools struggle with class rank and the role it plays in the college admission process. At several of our schools, the average grade in the building is a B+, resulting in highly successful students ranking in the lower half of their graduating class. Couple this with the competition that develops between and among students and the three high schools felt it was time for a change in the manner in which student performance is reported out to colleges and universities. Beginning next year, class rank will not be reported out unless there is an unlikely event in which not doing so puts our students at a disadvantage.
We invite you to attend one of two evening information sessions on this topic. The first will be held at Park High School on May 15 at 6:30 PM in the Lecture Hall, and the second will be held at Woodbury High School on May 22 at 6:30 PM. You will hear the research done by the counseling staff from all three buildings, and have an opportunity to discuss the implementation process. We want to hear from you! Please mark your calendars. We look forward to meeting with you.”
I think all high school students and parents who are on the District 833’s Info To Go email lists received the same information.
Later on Friday, the information was also in the “News from District 833 for May 10.”
My viewpoint and suggestion
I don’t know how other parents and students feel about this news. Speaking for myself and my family, we are surprised and very disappointed by the decision. I plan to go to the information session to learn more about the reasons behind the decision.
I am against the elimination of class rank. I think competition among students and schools is a good thing. I think high schools should still rank students. But to make a compromise, high schools can make it optional for students to keep the ranking on their transcripts and to report their rankings to colleges.
What is class rank and why is it useful?
Class rank is a measure of how a student’s performance compares to other students in his or her class. It’s used in high schools to compare students’ GPA and their academic achievements.
Class rank can be a productive tool to motivate students to work hard and excel. Some students look at school like a competition and see each test as a contest. For these externally motivated students, class rank is a productive and motivating academic tool. It gives them a goal to work towards and rewards academic achievement.
It drives them to work harder and to take harder classes, instead of the easy way out of high school. Students who take the harder classes and work the hardest will naturally be at the top of their class. Isn’t that what we want students to do – work harder and do better?
A positive effect of the class rank is that it exposes our students to the competitive nature of our world at an early age.
In addition, a high class rank can make a positive impression on a college application. Colleges often use class rank as a factor in college admissions. They take class rank into high consideration. They tend to look at class rank to see how students are likely to measure up with their peers. The absence of a class rank forces colleges to put more weight on standardized test scores.
Some U.S. states guarantee that students who achieve a high enough class rank at their high school will be admitted into a state university.
Doing away with rankings also eliminates a reality check for students and schools on how classmates compare.
Competition is good
Students compete in sports and they get ranked. What is wrong with ranking students academically for whom academic performance should be more important than sports?
Why are some students and parents afraid of competition?
Competition is a part of life. Life is competitive. Competition is good because it makes people do better and do their best.
Competition can be a very positive motivating force. Everyone benefits from the competition when all strive for the best or the first. Students become more self-motivated and more self-reliant and raise the bar of academic achievement for their peers.
Real life is not like some elementary school events, in which everyone is a winner, everyone receives an award for participating or showing up, so their feelings and self-esteem are not bruised. The whole “everyone gets a trophy” mentality is creating an attitude of entitlement.
Children will be better prepared for life by experiencing a competitive academic environment resulting in class ranking.
Aren’t high school students old enough to handle a little competition? They are supposed to be mature enough to realize that not everyone has the same skills and talents. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. There are winners and losers. Not everyone in real life is a winner, regardless of how strong one’s self-esteem is. One can be a winner in one area and not in another area.
Winning and losing is a fact of life. When we fail to acknowledge and recognize winners, everyone stands to lose.
If students in their teens can’t handle some competitive at high schools, how will they learn to handle the significantly more competitive environments of elite colleges and grad schools in their twenties, later in their professional life?
Taking class ranking out of high school is just another way that society is making everything “equal” and making everyone feel good about themselves. It is another example of dumbing of America. It teaches kids nothing in the long run.
Yes, men are created equal which just means each is of equal value to the creator, not that they have equal skills and abilities.
If we are going to end academic competition, then should we use the same logic to end sports competitions?
Will we stop ranking football teams and football players? Will we stop taking score at sports events? Will we stop ranking colleges and universities? Will we stop rating cities, hotels, restaurants, cars, etc.? Will we stop rewarding people for working harder and being better than everyone else, because then everyone else will feel bad?
In the United States, more than in any other countries, students’ athletic abilities are often overvalued while their academic excellence is often undervalued. If a mediocre student is applauded for his athletic ability, why shouldn’t a student with academic excellence be recognized for his accomplishments?
Students who work hard and achieve top ranking should be recognized and honored, just like sports players are recognized and honored.
What some critics say
Some who don’t like class rank say that the class rank system promotes unhealthy competition, because the top students must fight with their fellow classmates just to make the top 10 percent of the class. This could happen, but not necessary.
My son is friends with several who rank higher than he is. They enjoy working on projects together and chat on Skype after school.
Students need to learn to work together to truly become successful. The key is to compete and co-operate.
The solution is not getting rid of ranking. Doing so can kill competition and motivation.
Critics also say that class rank can lead to anxiety and academic pressure and cause stress.
People need to know and understand their passion, abilities, strengths and limits. Not everyone is good at sport or music just like not everyone can be in the top ten of the class.
We will have anxiety and stress if we are forced to do things we are not naturally good at.
Having some pressure and stress in life is not all bad. It’s also part of life. Do we eliminate a sport game because of pressure and stress? No.
Life is not just about having fun and having it easy. Some short term pain is necessary in order to have long term gain.
Some think that the class rank is not fair. They complain and whine about it.
I will say life is not fair, embrace competition and work harder.
As parents, let’s face it. Our child cannot be the best and the first at everything.
Class rank is only one kind of measures for student’s achievements. It’s not the only ticket to college.
My favorite high school teacher in China was someone who ranked students every week based on their test results. After every test, he wrote the names of the top students on a small blackboard and had it on the wall until the next test. In addition, he often rewarded students with pens, books and other prizes which were very valuable at that time.
Students in his class were highly motivated and worked hard. Many went on to colleges. Every year, this teacher had the best graduating class and the highest success rate in college entrance exams in the whole school and city. His reputation was known beyond the school.
For my son, a 9th grader and a freshman at high school, knowing his class ranking for the first time has made him work harder for school than ever.
When the first trimester report card came home, he was not in the top ten in his class. He didn’t do well in one class because he wasn’t clear about the expectations. But he wanted to be in the top ten, so he worked harder and was more responsible with his school work in the second trimester. As the result, he improved his grades and ended up in the top ten on the second report card.
My son’s favorite middle school teacher was the math teacher Mr. Rasmussen. I heard that Mr. Rasmussen would call out the students’ names when distributing test results to recognize students who had received the perfect scores. Mr. Rasmussen was probably the only teacher he had who did that. The recognition motivated him to do his best.
Who doesn’t enjoy some acknowledgement and recognition for his achievement and success?
A few years ago, when my son was little, he sold golf balls in the backyard. One day he saw a neighbor kid selling golf balls in the same location. He was so excited and ran out to set up his stand. I had never seen him so excited in selling golf balls.
A little bit later, that child’s parent came knocking on our door. She came to tell me that they were not happy that my son competed with her child selling golf balls at the same time in the same location. I was dumbfounded because I thought it was fun for the kids.
We made the promise at their request not to sell golf balls at the same time. Unfortunately, my son lost some motivation and interest after what happened.
What do you think?
I would love to hear your opinion on this issue. Whether you want to keep or abolish class rank, please share your thoughts and let’s have a discussion.
The following letter from Caitlyn Hale, Mankato, Minnesota appeared in the Star Tribune’s Readers Write section on April 10, 2013:
Too many children are online and isolated
I have a growing concern for the younger generations and their addiction to technology. Children are growing up in families where texting each other is the main form of communication. Instead of going outside, getting dirty, and using their imaginations, kids are now sitting inside playing Xbox and PlayStation. By the time they are five years old, many children have a cellphone, iPod, iPad or laptop and know how to use all of them without instruction. This growing need and use of technology is leading our children to isolate themselves. This “new-age” world is destroying interpersonal relationships, especially within families. Yes, technology is important, but so are our families. We need to bring our children back to life. Something needs to be done to teach parents how to teach their children the proper use and limitations of the Internet.
Hale’s growing concern has been on my mind as well.
We have become more connected technologically than ever, yet we have also become more disconnected emotionally and relationally.
We have hundreds of friends on Facebook, yet few in life.
We spend more time watching TV, texting, emailing, facebooking, googling, or surfing the Internet, yet have no time meeting and talking with peole.
We have more communication tools, yet less communications skills.
We are dependent on and addicted to technology.
I welcome Lake Middle School’s initiative – “Screen Free Week” that starts this week. They challenge students to spend less time behind a screen this week. They encourage students to make the Screen Free Pledge and participate in a special activity after school every day during this week – planting, obstacle Course, playing favorite games drawing and painting, and dancing.
How will you challenge your family to reduce screen time?
Three schools in Woodbury, Woodbury High School (#16), Math & Science Academy (#22) and East Ridge High School (#36) have earned silver medals in the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Best High Schools in America. Minnesota has six gold medal schools, 40 silver medal schools and 90 bronze medal schools in the 2013 ranking.
The U.S. News & World Report determines the Best High Schools rankings by evaluating schools on overall student performance on statewide assessments, as well as how effectively schools educated their black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students. Performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams were also used to determine how well schools prepare students for college-level work.
- Mahtomedi Senior High School
- Edina High School
- St. Anthony Village High School
- TrekNorth High School
- Wayzata High School
- Minnetonka High School
- Eagan High School
- Mounds View High School
- Century Senior High
- Irondale Senior High School
- Southwest High School
- Eden Prairie Senior High School
- Mankato West Senior High School
- Roseville Area Senior High
- Houston High School
- Woodbury Senior High
- Lake Of The Woods Secondary
- Open World Learning Community
- Jefferson High School
- Dassel-Cokato Senior High
- Centennial Senior
- Math & Science Academy
- Chaska High School
- St. Charles Secondary
- Red Rock Central Secondary
- Northfield Senior High School
- Brainerd Senior High
- G.F.W. Sr.
- Mound-Westonka High School
- Bemidji Senior High
- Apple Valley Senior High
- Montevideo Senior High
- Blackduck Secondary
- St. Peter Senior High
- Twin Cities Academy High School
- East Ridge High School
- Minnewaska Secondary
- Higher Ground Academy
- John Marshall Senior High
- Perham Senior High
The paradox of our age
– His Holiness the XIVth Dali Lama
We have bigger houses, but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.
We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever,
but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods, but slow digestion;
tall man, but short character;
steep profits, but shallow relationships.
It is a time when there is much in the window,
but nothing in the room.
Here are a few photos from the 2013 Woodbury Citizens’ Academy graduation ceremony held at the Eagle Valley Golf Course tonight. I attended the 4th annual WCA graduation as an alumnus and volunteer.
WCA is a great program offered by Woodbury Community Foundation under the leadership of Executive Director Alisa Rabin Bell, in partnership with the City of Woodbury and Woodbury Lions Club. I was honored to be a part of it, as a participant in the first annual WCA in 2010 and then as a volunteer this year.
What is your relationship with your work? How do you approach your work?
In Habits of the Heart, Bellah et al. talks about three distinct relations people can have to their work: as a job, a career and a calling. Most people approach their work in one of the three ways.
Let’s take a look at the definitions:
- Job – A paid position of regular employment.
- Career – An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.
- Calling – A strong inner urge toward a particular way of life or career.
If you see your work as a job, you are only interested in the material benefits from work and do not seek or receive any other type of reward from it. Your focus is on financial rewards and necessity rather than pleasure or fulfillment. The work is not an end in itself, but a means that allows you to acquire the resources needed to enjoy life. You pursue hobbies for satisfaction and fulfillment that your work don’t give you.
If you see your work as a career, you have a deeper personal investment in your work. You have goals of advancement, promotion, and prestige. Your focus is on advancement. The advancement often brings higher self-esteem, social status and more power.
If you see your work as a calling, you work not for financial gain or career advancement, but instead for the fulfillment that doing the work brings for you. Your focus is on doing socially useful work, on the impact and purpose of what you do. You see your work as contributing to the greater good. When you are living your calling, you have moved from external to internal motivation. Your work is intrinsically fulfilling, you are not doing it to achieve something else. You are willing to work even without pay. You would continue to work, even if you suddenly became very wealthy and have no need to work. Your work is inseparable from your life. You so enjoy your work that it doesn’t feel like work for you. Time flies by quickly.
A job tends to deplete you and a calling can energize you.
Many people simply have a job to do. They give time and energy to their employers in exchange for a compensation. They find no motivation, no satisfaction and no fulfillment on the job.
If you see your work as a job with no satisfaction and fulfillment, maybe it’s time to do some soul searching and find your calling in life.
If you are an employer, a manager, a leader, what are you doing to help your employees find their sense of calling in what they do?
For further reading:
Wrzesniewski, A., McCauley, C. R., Rozin, P., & Schwartz, B. (1997). Jobs, careers, and callings: People’s relations to their work
Here is my letter to the editor published in Woodbury Bulletin newspaper on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.
Volunteers are Woodbury’s unsung community heroes
For the last several months since November 2012, my teenage son and daughter were involved in several extra-curriculum activities, including WAA recreational basketball, U.S. Academic Triathlon, and Robotics Club.
The basketball and USAT seasons just ended in March, which was a relief for me, because driving around, especially on snowy nights, is not my cup of tea. But I don’t feel I can let it go and relax without saying a heartfelt thank-you to all the parent volunteers who helped coach the teams and mentor the kids.
In addition to coaching teams at practices and meets (for basketball, there were usually two practices and one meet every week), some also helped with transportation and snack/food, providing help when needed.
I want to thank everyone who coached my kids’ teams: Denice Krish, Lynn Bennett and Julie Luick (for two of the Lake Middle School AT teams), Rich Pierson and Brian Findlay (WAA Girls basketball), and Anthony Mahady (WAA boys basketball).
The Robotics Club at East Ridge High School has an awesome team of parent volunteers, including Doug Jensen, Mary Jensen, Bill Driscoll, Michelle Witte, Cheryl Schow, Karen Wright, Petey Driscoll, Michael Tritz, and many others. If I could give only one award to a parent volunteer, it would go to Doug Jensen who serves as the head mentor for the Robotics Team. His passion, dedication and commitment to the team are unmatchable.
These and many other school or community sponsored programs and activities cannot exist without the support of volunteers. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the coaches and volunteers in the community, you are my unsung heroes. Your generous giving spirit is part of what makes Woodbury a great community, and the United States a great nation. It’s also something I love about this country that I now call my home.
Qin Tang – Woodbury
While the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy on December 14, 2012 was still fresh in memory, another tragedy struck today, during the Boston Marathon. Just four months later.
The Boston Marathon Bombing left 3 dead and over 100 injured.
What’s happening in this world is incomprehensible.
The September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack changed everything. It was the turning point in the history of the U.S. Gone are the days when we had a great sense of security. We not only lost our sense of security, but also our innocence. Our hope for peace in this world was shattered, and lost as well.
As our nation faces one tragedy after another, it feels like we are right in the valley of the shadow of death.
I have been reading Robert Morgan’s new book “The Lord is My Shepherd: Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23.” I really like it. The book explains Psalm 23 verse by verse and makes it easier to understand.
In the midst of another devastating tragedy, let’s find some hope and peace in Psalm 23.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
We will walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, whatever challenges and tragedies come our way, if we put our faith in God. He will bring us through challenges and tragedies and bring us to victory.
Psalm 23 (New King James Version)
A Psalm of David
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
In America, people in general don’t talk about money and salary. Personal finance is highly guarded as personal privacy in American culture.
We don’t know what our coworkers in the next cubicles make. Some don’t even know what other family members make. We don’t ask our friends what they make. People feel more comfortable talking about almost anything else than salary.
There is a sense of secrecy. With that comes a sense of peace. Once the secrecy is out, the peace is gone. Feelings of unfairness and resentment will surface. For a good reason.
Last week’s article in Woodbury Bulletin about Woodbury High School principal Linda Plante taking District 833 to court over pay disparities has probably caused some curious minds to wonder about the salaries principals or teachers make in Minnesota.
If you are a teacher, or a public employee including federal, state, county and city employee, your salary is public information. You are out of luck for privacy.
The following are just a few databases you can search for salary information.
This page links to federal, state, county, municipal government employee salaries and directories of employees nationwide.
We live in an unfair world. That’s for sure. Even little kids know that. They say this all the time: “That’s not fair.”
Unfairness, unequal treatment, and discrimination exist everywhere in the workplace, in pay, promotion, work assignments, etc.
I applaud people like Plante, and especially my friend Wang Ping who had the courage to stand up and take Macalester College to court for unfair treatment and discrimination. I wrote about her case in several posts recently.
It was truly a memorable experience to spend “An Evening with Dr. David Jeremiah” tonight at Target Center. I was glad that I went.
I had always wanted to go to this event, because I love listening to Dr. Jeremiah from Turning Point Minitry on radio and enjoy reading his books. I would love to meet him in person.
When I think about him, three words come to my mind – wise, graceful and beautiful.
He is a wise man, his message is full of wisdom. He is graceful. God’s grace is all over him and shows in everything he says and does. He has a beautiful voice for radio and good look for TV.
When I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, I wasn’t sure I would go by myself. I just did not feel comfortable to drive to Target Center alone. I was disappointed.
On Tuesday I got a surprise call from Scott, Director of Public Relations at Turning Point, inviting me to meet with Dr. Jeremiah at the back stage before the rally started at 7 pm. His phone call really boosted my determination to go. I didn’t want to miss such a great opportunity to meet and talk with my admired and respected Bible teacher, and I was determined to go, even if I had to drive by myself which was very uncomfortable for me.
As instructed, I got to the Target Center before 5:30 pm. I waited till the doors to the arena opened at 5:30. I went straight to the front of the stage and met with a staff who took me to a room in the back where Dr. Jeremiah and his wife Donna were waiting. We talked for a few minutes. I wish I had more time to talk with them.
Dr. Jeremiah gave me a copy of his new book “God Loves You: He Always Has-He Always Will.” And he signed it to me.
His autograph was already on the first blank page, so he just wrote my name on top of his name.
Later when I opened the book, I found that the supposedly first page where he signed both his name and my name is in fact the last page of the book, because the book jacket was upside down. What looks like the first page from the cover is actually the last page.
For this event, Dr. Jeremiah pre-signed 800 copies of the book for sale. It’s totally understandable that something like this happened. Someone opened to the wrong page for him to sign. I thought I was the lucky one to get this unique copy with the autograph on the last page. This makes the book even more special.
After the personal meeting with Dr. Jeremiah, I got a special seat reserved for counselors right facing the stage. I picked the second row and was able to see the stage closely.
Dr. Jeremiah presented the message “God loves you” which is the title of his new book. The message was based on the Book of Hosea.
The rally ended at 9:20 pm. Well, I did manage to get lost in downtown Minneapolis, even with the help of GPS. I couldn’t see the street signs well in the dark and missed turns. I drove around for a while and didn’t get back home until 10:30 pm. I won’t do this for any other event, but attending this rally was worth the trouble and efforts.
It was really an honor for me to be able to spend a few minutes talking with Dr. Jeremiah and his wife Donna, to have two books signed by him and to listen to him speaking live. What a wonderful experience and blessing!
For more photos, go to my Facebook.
As I mentioned in a previous post, An Evening with Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. Jeremiah will be coming to Twin Cities for an inspirational Turning Point Rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis on April 4, at 7 pm. He will present his message God Loves You: He Always Has—He Always Will.
This is the first time Dr. Jeremiah helds the rally in Minnesota.
The event is free of charge. You don’t really need tickets to get in. If you are interested, just go. I hope you will.
I love listening to Christian radio shows a lot. Among all the Bible teachers I have heard on the radio, Dr. David Jeremiah from Turning Point Ministry is my favorite.
Yesterday I was so thrilled when I got a call from Scott Walsh, Director of Public Relations from Turning Point Minitry, offering me an opportunity to meet Dr. Jeremiah before the rally starts. I have known Dr. Jeremiah for years from listening to his messages, but this will be the first to mee and talk to him in person. I am excited and looking forward to it.
Dr. Jeremiah has been a teacher of God’s Word for over 40 years. He has served as the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California since 1981. His radio and television ministry, Turning Point, is seen and heard on stations around the world. It is the largest syndicated Bible teaching ministry in the world.
In addition to leading his church and Turning Point Ministry, Dr. Jeremiah is a favorite conference speaker and best selling author. He has written over 50 books. I have read just a few of his books. They are excellent.
The 2012-2013 U.S. Academic Triathlon Awards Ceremony of School District 833 was held today at Cottage Grove Middle School at 7 pm.
The cafeteria at Cottage Grove Middle School was packed with USAT participants and their families. Tina Van Erp, District’s new Gifted & Talented coordinator, presided over the awards ceremony. Principals or their representatives from participating elementary and middle schools were present to honor the students from their own schools.
Every USAT participant received a customized medal. It has “2012-13 USAT” on the front and participant’s name and school on the back of the medal.
Academic Triathlon is an after school enrichment program offered to students in 5th-8th grade through the District’s Gifted & Talented Office.
The program has been growing very year. This year, District 833 had 32 teams (29 teams last year) of 5th-6th graders and 11 teams (8 teams last year) of 7th-8th graders with a total of 219 students (189 last year) participating in the USAT.
There were 81 coaches (46 last year) who coached the weekly practices and organized three Round Robin meets and one regional meet during the months from November to March.
I am thankful for all the coaches who gave so much of their time and energy to make things happen. Without these parents serving as volunteer coaches, the program would not be possible.
I want to especially thank my daughter’s coaches Denice and Lynn for their hard work and efforts.
Thanks also to Tina Van Erp and Laura Vogel from District G&T Services for coordinating the USAT program, and to all educators for their support.
Several teams that won the first place at the regional meets will go to the State Tournament. Good luck to all the teams from our District that will go on to the state meet.
“I write to keep my sanity,” my friend Wang Ping told me.
Wang, a talented poet, writer, English Professor at Macalester College, is involved in a discrimination case with Macalester. She has been going through a very tough time physically, emotionally, mentally and financially, in her fight against discrimination and for equal rights.
Writing helps her stay sane in this insane world.
Below is her latest writing, posted on her Facebook.
My Name Is Pariah
“Ping,” said my colleagues when they learned my promotion denial, “just stay quiet till we have a new president, and you’ll have no problem to be promoted.”
“Ping,” said another, “if you make ‘noise,’ no college will ever want you, no matter how breathtaking your resume is.”
“Ping, don’t complain to the human rights department if you still want to teach here. It’s equivalent to taking poison and hoping that your enemy will die. It’s a suicide.”
Suicide: an act of taking one’s own life…may stem from social and cultural pressures, such as isolation, bereavement or estrangement.
I know what they’re saying. That’s why I stay quiet since I started teaching in 1999. Quietly I taught MWF 8:30-3:30, three weeks after my surgical labor, still wobbling from a torn birth canal. Quietly I watched my colleagues got their early promotions with 1/7 of my publication while I was denied the promised opportunity. Quietly I complied when I was told I couldn’t teach poetry, or fiction, even though I was hired as a poet and fiction writer. Quietly I cut 1/5 of my salary to do service: create new curriculum, expand the writing program, establish the Chinese program, serve on different committees, organize conferences, bring visitors from China, curate permanent photo installations for the administrators…
For 13 years, I kept my mouth shut and worked. Creative Writing became the most popular major. I hired every single faculty in the department, and helped establish the Chinese department. I brought 45 visitors to the campus. I organized over 30 student readings, mentored and nurtured many students into great poets and writers. I published 10 books, won book awards, national fellowships and Distinct Alumna Award, gave hundreds of readings, lectures, key-note speeches, served on EPAG, Freeman Grant and ACTC committees, judging for NEA, PEN, Griffin…
For 13 years, I’m the first to arrive in my office, the last to leave. The security guard knows my blue Honda, parked 7 days a week outside the Old Main, even on New Year’s Day. My kids know it’s impossible to make me sit down on the couch. They no longer ask me to take them somewhere for a family vacation.
For 13 years, I have no time for my family. I give my bone marrow to the college.
For 13 years, I made hundreds of dinners for students and faculty, elaborate banquets that require weeks of preparations, food made for joy and peace.
My photos adorn the President and Admission’s Offices as symbols for harmony.
Everyday I endure pain: joints, muscles, stomach, TMJ, IBS, depression, loneliness…
For the dream that I’d be an equal, someday, if I keep quiet and work hard.
Until I was called into the office: “ Promotion denied. You’re not enough.”
Until my appeal was rejected. “You’re just not enough.”
Until the FPC chair pointed her pinky at me, “Ping, you’re nothing.”
Until they try everything to stop my Kinship of Rivers project.
Until they cut all my teaching fund.
Until they dismantled the Creative Writing major.
Until they ignored my pleas to stop the retaliation and let me teach in peace.
Until they hired a five-lawyer team to Shock & Awe me into dust.
Until lies run rampart about my demand for a “large sum of money,” my refusal to mediate.
Until I become the Pariah on the campus: nobody looks at me; nobody speaks to me, nobody knows me, nobody returns my email, including those I hired, sheltered, worked with, co-taught with, traveled with, shared meals with…
That’s when I realize I will never ever be an equal, no matter what I do, no matter how quiet and low, just because I’m a Chinese, a Chinese woman, a Chinese woman immigrant, a Chinese woman immigrant who dreams and speaks in America.
In fact, the more achievements I make, the deeper is my trouble, the more violence. It goes so deep it can no longer be explained with logic. The refusal to support the Kinship of Rivers project cost the college about $250,000 potential grants, and much coveted publicity. The dismantled writing major will cost thousands of dollars of potential tuition. The legal battle is costing the college thousands of dollars, its invaluable reputation.
The slander and estrangement are costing my life…
All because I ask to stand as an equal to my colleagues, to teach and research as an equal in an institution that relies so heavily on the principles of justice, diversity, internationalism, and academic freedom.
Academia has become a violent place, especially for women of colors, especially for those who dare to speak.
I watched the violence unleashed upon Soek-fang, Kieu Linh, Rosalie Tung, Sun, Feifei, Carmen, and many others. I watched my sisters flailing, writhing, dying alone. I stood by with my mouth shut hoping it wouldn’t be me next. I worked with my teeth clenched hoping I’d be spared. I endured waves of retaliations praying they might stop some day.
I called and emailed begging for a face-to-face meeting to resolve the conflicts, NO MONEY NECESSARY. Finally, my attorney sent a sample complaint hoping for an internal resolution…
My private complaint was answered in court. It blasted me into the public arena for a “hunger game.”
That’s when I realize that my silence is a suicide that kills myself from inside, a homicide that killed Soek-fang, almost killed Kieu Linh, a genocide that is killing the entire group of women of colors in academia, one by one, thousands by thousands…
Read my story, our story, Soek-fang, Kieu Linh, women from Presumed Incompetent, every detail backed by emails and legal documents, every word soaked with tears, sweat, blood…Call EEOC, Human Rights Department, Chronicle of Higher Education, AAUP, NAS. They’ll tell you they’re overwhelmed by discrimination claims.
And if you dig, anywhere, you’ll unearth the skulls and bones of women of colors upon which the Great Wall of American academia is built.
Kieu Linh, assistant professor at UC Davis fighting for her tenure, described how she came back from her “90 minute clinical death:”
It was cold there, littered with bones. “Eat us, eat our bones,” they begged, “so that you’ll have strength to go back.” I held them, bones like roots that won’t die, brown, red, black, yellow…I cried, “No, I can’t you, sisters.” “But you must,” they ordered. “You must take us back to the living and tell them what they’ve done to us. Eat us so we can live, so you and your baby daughter can live. Eat us!” So I ate. Every bite I made, a sigh was released from the bone, as if she knew her story would have a chance to see light…
Genocide: a deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group… —Merriam -Webster
Before I spoke, I was dying slowly from exhaustion, shame, doubt, violence…
After I spoke, I’m dying from isolation, estrangement, retaliation, intimidation, terror and heartbreaks…at a much faster speed.
To speak or not speak, it’s no longer an option.
I am dying no matter what, being a woman of color, an immigrant who dares to dream for equality, justice and truth in American academia.
If I’m given a death sentence for this dream, then let me die with my mouth wide open. Let the public eye be my shield. Let the public conscience be my weapon.
Let me be the Pariah if it means no other women of colors will have to go through this again, if it means my children and sisters can live with some dignity.
Speak, if you don’t want to be the next in the “Hunger Game.”
In poetry, we seek truth. In poetry, we unite to stop this violence.
One of the important lessons I have learned in life is never forget to say “Thank You!” either in person or in writing.
When someone is generous – giving you a gift, a hug, advice, time, attention …
When someones is helpful – giving you a ride, shoveling your driveway …
When someone is courteous – holding the door for you, offering an extra hand for something …
When someone is thoughtful – thinking of you and letting you know …
When someone shares something with you – knowledge, feedback, food …
When someone helps you do and accomplish something – fixing a problem, learning a new skill …
When someone says something nice to you – a compliment about you appearance, achievements and accomplishments …
Always remember to say “Thank You!” and acknowledge their efforts, goodness and kindness, especially if you want the same good things and feelings to continue. The more people feel appreciated, the more giving they become. Ignoring someone’s efforts and kindness might kill his generous spirits.
Grateful people are like magnets. Their positive and appreciative attitudes attract more and draw out more goodness and kindness from others. Everyone enjoys their company and likes to be around them.
A simple “Thank You!” just two words, can work wonders.
I participated in the first Woodbury Citizens’ Academy in 2010. Now in its 4th year, WCA was expanded to include a new session on culture & diversity. The event took place on March 18 at Central Park.
Several local individuals and organizations were invited to participate and showcase their culture.
Representatives from the City of Woodbury gave a presentation on the population growth in Minnesota and Woodbury. With 20% of minority population (half of them are Asian), Woodbury has one of the highest percentage of minority population among all cities in Minnesota.
Participants also enjoyed small group discussions, traditional Indian and Hmong dances, and ethnic food.
The new session turned out to be a very popular one. City of Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and City Administrator Clinton Gridley were also present.
I listen to Christian radio shows every day, on my way to work or at home. Among all the Bible teachers I have heard on the radio, Dr. David Jeremiah from Turning Point Ministry is my favorite.
Dr. Jeremiah will be coming to Twin Cities for an inspirational Turning Point Rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis on April 4, 2013, 7 pm. He will present his message God Loves You: He Always Has—He Always Will.
The event is free of charge. You can request free tickets online.
The rally, known as An Evening with Dr. David Jeremiah, helps to further Turning Point’s mission to deliver the unchanging Word of God to an ever-changing world.
Dr. Jeremiah has been a teacher of God’s Word for over 40 years. He has served as the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California since 1981. His radio and television ministry, Turning Point, is seen and heard on stations around the world.
In addition to leading his church and Turning Point Ministry, Dr. Jeremiah is a favorite conference speaker and best selling author. I have read some of his books. They are excellent.
In fact, I liked his teaching and books so much that I joined his Circle of Friend’s Bible Strong Partners Program. By doing so, I will automatically receive his resources in addition to support his minitry.
I would love to attend the event and meet Dr. Jeremiah in person.
Hope you will come and enjoy the evening with Dr. Jeremiah.
I knew about it a while ago, but it’s still very exciting to read the official announcement online for the first time.
The little free libraries are small but mighty. They are spreading fast and wide around the country and the world. They are effective tools to share the love of books and reading, to build communities and connections with neighbors, and to promote library and literacy.
A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Todd and visiting him at his LFL studio in Hudson, Wisconsin. To read more about the visit and the little free library he gave me, go to my previous post.
I am very happy for Todd and Rick for receiving this public recognition. It’s a well deserved recognition. What they have done and achieved is remarkable. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Todd and Rick for their contribution to the world.
The following information was provided to me to clarify some misinformation that might be out there regarding the discrimination case Wang vs. Macalester.
For more info about the case, read the previous posts:
Wang Ping, a native Mandarin speaker arrives in the U.S. with $26 in her pocket, no family connections, a strong work ethic and a desire for education. Despite English being her second language she begins studying English literature and creative writing. By 1999 she is a sought-after author and poet with an international reputation for writing about the immigrant experience.
1999 – Dr. Wang arrives at Macalester with an M.A. from Long Island University and PhD from New York University. She is employed by the English Department as a full-time writer and poet to teach creative writing. Before coming to Macalester, Dr. Wang had published four books; won two book awards; a National Endowments for the Arts Fellowship; a New York State Arts Fellowship; and, a Minnesota State Board for the Arts Fellowship;
2001 – After teaching in the English Department for two years, Dr. Wang is invited to join the tenure-track faculty as an advanced assistant professor because she had published five books in addition to the awards mentioned above. When she was hired on the tenure-track, Dr. Wang requested that she be eligible for early promotion because of advanced standing;
2003 – The current President arrives at Macalester. Dr. Wang requests the early promotion process be initiated, as she understood had been promised by the prior Macalester administration. For the first time, the Provost informed Dr. Wang that “her tenure-track employment contract did not include an early promotion clause,” no matter how many books or accomplishments she had brought with her to Macalester.
A white male colleague with only one published book had been granted early promotion a year before, thus showing that such promotions did take place despite the misinformation provided by the Provost (in retrospect);
2004 – Dr. Wang applies for tenure with 7 books published at this point in her career but not early promotion in consideration of the Provost’s “ruling on early promotion.” Another white male colleague in the same department applies for early promotion (which had been denied Dr. Wang a year earlier) and receives early promotion with one book;
2005 – Dr. Wang is granted tenure. The white male colleague who had applied for early promotion with only one book in 2004 is granted early promotion;
2009 – Dr. Wang requested of the Provost that she apply to be promoted to full professor for the first time after 10 years on the faculty. The Provost incorrectly tells Dr. Wang she has requested an early promotion again, and sent her through a special review process by an associate professor, in contravention of regular Macalester procedures. The associate professor, who is also the CST director, declares Dr. Wang ineligible to apply for promotion because her teaching is “not good enough,” after she lost the reviewing materials Dr. Wang sent her, and fails to respond to Dr. Wang’s inquiries for a second meeting;
2009 – Shortly thereafter, all associate professors eligible for promotion receive notification as a single group, including Dr. Wang. Dr. Wang discovered that both the Provost and the CST director had given her incorrect information. She qualified for promotion on a regular promotion schedule, not an early promotion schedule, in 2009. The same white male colleague granted early promotion in 2005 applied for early promotion again in 2009 and was granted the early promotion by the Provost and President a second time, without requiring a review by the CST director.
April 2010 — Dr. Wang applied for promotion to full professor pursuant to the general notification to associate professors but was notified by the Provost that her promotion to full professor was denied for sub-par teaching and insufficient service. The Provost advised her not to apply for a promotion again for five years and to refrain from discussing the denial of her promotion;
May 2010 – Dr. Wang appeals the denial of promotion internally through Appeal Committee which finds four significant procedural errors and recommends the President reopen the case;
October 2010 – The President refuses to reopen the faulty procedure used to deny the promotion of Dr. Wang to full professor. Funding for Dr. Wang’s projects is cut. Post-promotion meeting with the Provost and the FPC chair was verbally, professionally and emotionally abusive towards Dr. Wang, according to her health-treatment providers. The meeting reveals that information supporting Dr. Wang’s promotion had been withheld by the Provost from earlier faculty reviews;
December 2010 – Counsel for Dr. Wang writes to attorneys for the President and Provost of Macalester offering to discuss discrimination issues and requesting swift solution, but not threatening litigation. The response is dismissive of Dr. Wang’s concerns;
January 2011 – Counsel for Dr. Wang files EEOC and Minnesota Department of Human Rights complaints for racial, ethnic and gender discrimination. 18-month EEOC investigation begins;
2011 – Dr. Wang applies for promotion to full Professor despite Provost’s 2010 order that she not seek promotion for five-years, while the EEOC investigation is underway;
April 2012 – Dr. Wang is granted promotion to full professor. The promotion is both appreciated and well-earned. The letter from the President to Dr. Wang is terse with none of the traditional academic praise. Whether Dr. Wang would have been granted this 2012 promotion in the absence of the year-long, ongoing EEOC investigation, after being rejected for the same promotion in 2010, is a matter for speculation and additional information from College records and personnel;
August 2012 – Three months after Dr. Wang is promoted to full professor EEOC reports that the reasons for disparate treatment of Dr. Wang are inconclusive; Dr. Wang goes on sabbatical 2012-13 to help rebound from 2009-2012 three-years of stress;
November 2012 – Counsel for Dr. Wang attempts reconciliation meeting to prevent post-promotion retaliation; restriction of project funding; working toward the best interests of Macalester, etc. the President and Provost do not respond, as reflected in the email record.
December 3, 2012 – To preserve the statute of limitations, Dr. Wang’s attorneys mail a copy of a sample complaint that had not been filed in court to lawyers for the President and Provost. Attorneys for Dr. Wang request to mediate her concerns about discrimination or retaliation when Dr. Wang returns to campus after her sabbatical in Fall 2013.
December 21, 2012 – Wang v. Macalester becomes public when attorneys for the President and Provost file a public Answer in Ramsey County District Court, making the attempted mediation a public lawsuit and demanding that Dr. Wang pay Macalester’s legal fees;
February 2013: Macalester President’s Disinformation Campaign with Alumni and the Macalester community begins with phone calls reported on Facebook and other websites:
- Contrary to website postings neither the Provost and President have “reached out” to mediate these matters directly or through their attorneys, as described above;
- Dr. Wang has sought mediation to prevent retaliation and ensure equal treatment in salary and other conditions of employment required by law, not “a big financial award;”
- Feb. 1 Macalester documents declare: “mediation is not appropriate.” Dr. Wang disagrees;
- Dr. Wang’s quarrel is not primarily with faculty colleagues, but with the President and Provost whose discriminatory and retaliatory application of Macalester academic rules;
- Macalester’s mission as a diverse and multi-cultural institution means a great deal to all of us. The President and Provost’s refusal to mediate, as Dr. Wang’s counsel requested before these discrimination and retaliation matters were brought into court by attorneys for Mac administrators, cannot benefit Mac alumni, students, faculty or staff.
A roundabout was proposed at Radio Drive and Military Road in Woodbury.
I prefer roundabouts than traditional stop sign or signal-controlled intersections. So adding roundabouts to any future road improvement projects inWoodbury is a great idea for me.
There are many benefits of roundabouts.
Due to low travel speeds, one-way travel and no traffic light, roundabouts can reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes and improve traffic safety. They also reduce delay and improve traffic flow.
Unlike intersections with traffic signals, drivers don’t have to wait for a green light at a roundabout to get through the intersection. Traffic is not required to stop – only yield – so the intersection can handle more traffic in the same amount of time.
Long term cost is another factor to consider. Roundabouts are less expensive than traditionalsignalized intersections. Roundabouts eliminate hardware, maintenance and electrical costs associated with traffic signals.
During power outages, roundabouts will work as normal. No four-way stop, no long wait, no frustration.
I would also like to see more flashing yellow arrow traffic signals at intersections. They keep drivers safer during heavy traffic and reduce delays when traffic is light. They provide more flexibility and improve traffic flow.
Sitting in idling car, waiting for the left turn signal, while there is no oncoming traffic, can be frustrating sometimes when you are in hurry. Roundabouts and flashing yellow arrow signals will eliminate this problem. In addition, they save time and gas, and are also good for the environment.
So I would welcome more roundabouts and flashing yellow arrow signals in Woodbury.
Youtube videos about Roundabouts:
Today is the International Women’s Day.
For fun, I would like to share the following writing that a Chinese friend forwarded to me. Here is my rough translation from Chinese into English.
In Chinese, the character for mother is made of two parts: female + horse. Think about it, isn’t mom a work horse?
Mom is the woman who works like a horse for you. How can you not love her?
At 3: Mommy, I love you.
At 10: Mom, whatever.
At 16: My mom is a nagger.
At 18: I want to leave this home.
At 25: Mom, you were right.
At 30: I want to go home.
At 50: I don’t want to lose my mom.
At 70: I am willing to give up everything to get my mom back.
The most we say to mom is:
“Mom, where is my cloth?”
“Mom, what’s for dinner?”
“Mom, I am hungry.”
“Mom, can I go out?”
The most we say to dad is:
“Dad, where is mom?”
We all have a good mother, how can we not love her?
When you are sick, mom says: “Don’t scare me.”
When you are eating, mom says: “Don’t care about me.”
When you get married, mom says: “Don’t think of me.”
When mom is sick, mom says: “Don’t worry, I am OK.”
Time, please stand still and be good to all the wonderful mothers around the world.
Some day, when mom can’t stand on her own and walk on her own, please hold her hand, and walk slowly with her, just like she held your hand long time ago.
Wishing all mothers Happy International Women’s Day!
If you have old cell phones at home, don’t throw them away, recycle them!
The following info about the cell phone recycling program is from the City of Woodbury website:
Cell phones are one of the fastest growing forms of electronic waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average cell phone life span is about 18 months. Phones are discarded at an alarming rate of more than 125 million per year, resulting in more than 65,000 tons of waste.
Cell phones contain harmful materials such as lead and cadmium that are released as phones break down. These materials, which can leach into soil and drinking water from phones buried in landfills, may cause cancer and a range of reproductive and developmental disorders, even when the substances are released in small quantities.
Woodbury Parks and Recreation is partnering with Cellular Recycler and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to keep cell phones out of the trash. Phones collected through this program are either recycled for their precious metals according to EPA standards or are refurbished for use in developing countries with less advanced cellular technology than the U.S. During the refurbishing process, the memory of each cell phone is “flashed” to wipe out any previous information stored on the phone and allow for reprogramming.
Ninety percent of the proceeds will go toward providing programs and life-long learning for older adults in the community and 10 percent goes back to the NCOA to help continue new and innovative ways to provide fundraising and support senior center initiatives across the country.
Used cell phones can be dropped off in the collection boxes at Woodbury City Hall, 8301 Valley Creek Road, and at the information desk inside Central Park, 8595 Central Park Place (adjacent to the YMCA). For more information, call Woodbury Parks and Recreation at (651) 714-3583.
Telecommuting has become a hot topic again since Feb. 22, 2013, when an internal Yahoo No-Work-From-Home Memo was leaked to the press.
The new policy requires that all Yahoo employees must work on site full time, thus ending the telecommuting practice. The changes begin in June.
One Yahoo employee called the new policy “outrageous and a morale killer.” Now Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is coming under fire for an ‘awful’ call.
Just a few days later, on March 5, Best Buy followed Yahoo’s lead and enacted a policy requiring employees to drive into the office. See the Star Tribune article Best Buy ends flexible work program for its corporate employees.
Unlike Yahoo’s policy, Best Buy managers still have the ability to accommodate the occasional employee wanting to work from home, which is important given Minnesota’s harsh winters, where driving to work can be a challenge.
There is a debate going on again about telecommuting.
I think it’s a valid concern for employers about lack of productivity and collaboration when employees telecommute 5 days a week, but I don’t see any problem with telecommuting 1-2 days a week. I think ending the telecommuting practice outright is not a good idea. At the minimum, telecommuting should be allowed or encouraged when we have snowstorms or other family emergencies (a sick child, a broken furnace, etc.)
I asked a few friends who work for different companies in Twin Cities. They have no problem with their companies to do telecommuting when we have snowstorms like we had today.
I am out of luck.
For my birthday, my daughter Amy gave me a lovely hand-made card.
“Where are your poems?”
I asked for and expected some poems from her.
Amy wrote poems to me on every special occasion.
Birthday Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, New Year …
“No, I can’t. I have done so many, I ran out of ideas now.”
“Listen Amy. You have the creativity and talent inside you. You will never run out of ideas. You will always be able to write poems as long as you think and put in some efforts. The more you write, the better you get!”
I insisted and waited.
After dinner, I got what I asked for which is better than I hoped for and more …
A promise that she will write 100 poems for Mother’s Day.
I was amazed by her creativity and talent.
She made me a very happy and proud mom!
I enjoyed reading it and hope you will too.
One day I went to the store
I looked for the candy but there was no more
So I shrugged and looked for the chips
After all that looking, sore were my hips
I tried finding the brownies, but it was all gone
And for some soda, my stomach started to long
I walked all over, around and about
But there was no more junk food so I had to pout
There were no cookies, or any cake
Or really anything you had to bake
I searched and searched for an hour long
And prayed that it wasn’t all gone
Then for a second, I had to pee
And went to the bathroom just to see
All the junk food in the world
Piled and piled so high I had to hurl
I ran around and jumped for joy
I even hugged this random boy
It was a miracle that it was all there
In the bathroom for everyone to share!
The recent CNN Money article titled What Americans Earn (Jan. 23, 2013) shares something that’s not surprising to me, based on my personal experience and the experiences of some Chinese friends. And it shouldn’t be a surprise for most people.
How much you make depends on a number of factors, including your race and gender.
Women make less than men…but the size of the gap depends greatly on race.
For every dollar a man earns, a woman of the same race earns $.72 (Asian), $.80 (White), $.87 (Hispanic & Black).
The Forbes’ article Today, Women Need To Demand Equal Pay (Apr. 17, 2012, Equal Pay Day) says: “Nationally, women who work full time are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.” Women need to work extra 108 days to earn what men earn.
The earning gap is the most common form of gender and race discrimination in the workplace.
A part of the lawsuit involving Wang vs. Macalester is about gender and race discrimination, about gender- and race-based wage discrimination, about equal pay for men and women.
The more I learn about the discrimination case Wang vs. Macalester College (see the previous posts), the more I am appalled that Macalester College’s treatment of Dr. Wang was and is more than unreasonable and unfair.
To me, it’s obviously a case of discrimination and retaliation. I wouldn’t hesitate to use the words bullying, intimidating, and witch-hunting to describe what MC has been doing.
To support Dr. Wang, to seek fairness, equality and justice, I signed the petition “Macalester College: Stop the discrimination and retaliation! Mediate and reconcile with Dr Wang” on Change.org.
I hope you will take a look and sign the petition as well. The more people do so, the more impact this case will have on other similar cases around the country, and the more positive change we can bring to the society.
This is what I received from Change.org
|Qin, welcome to Change.org!By signing Oliver St. John’s petition “Macalester College: Stop the discrimination and retaliation! Mediate and reconcile with Dr Wang” yesterday, you joined more than 15 million people using Change.org to make their world better. Here’s how Change.org works:
Anyone can start a petition. Change.org lets anyone, anywhere start a petition. It’s free and can be about anything you want to change. Start your petition now.
Together, we’re powerful. The more of us that join together in support of a campaign, the better the chance of being heard. (You can share Oliver St. John’s petition now on Facebook, Twitter, or via email).
This works. With support from people like you, hundreds of campaigns are won every month. Click here to see some of the most inspiring victories.
Every so often you can expect to hear from Change.org about campaigns we think you’ll be excited to join. If you’d prefer not to receive these emails, you can unsubscribe by clicking the link at the bottom of any message you receive from us.
Qin, we started Change.org hoping that it would bring people together to make the world a better place – we’re so excited that you got involved. Thank you welcome to Change.org!
|Ben Rattray Founder, Change.org|
The following was written by Wang Ping, a “not good enough” teacher according to Macalester College administrators. Wang is involved in a discrimination suit with the college. See the previous posts for more info.
Peach and Plum Blossoms
by Wang Ping
Tue., Feb. 19, 2013
Today Peter became a tenure-track professor at Macalester. He took my intro workshop 12 years ago, and changed his path from history to fiction. His first book won LA Book Award. English Department is celebrating.
13 years ago, Alex walked into my classroom on his cane. He just had a brain surgery. I told him I’d save him a seat in my class when he was ready. He came back…. Now he’s a poet and professor with five books. His Happy is the NYT’s bestseller.
Jane got Nick Adam’s award for her short story.
Lee got Nick Adam’s award for her story.
Simon was a Rhode Scholar.
Dan visited the Stillwater prison with me for poetry workshops. His life was never the same.
Oliver is the USA Today journalist.
Legacy is NYC’s top ten young artists. We fought hard with the administrators for her right to do the honors’ project.
Daniel was the first Macalester student selected by the Loft “In Road” program. He was a pre-med major when he came to my intro class. “Come back when you’re ready,” I said. And he did.
Tressa was the finalist for Nick Adam Award.
Oliver and Luke started the Cloud City Press.
Kate, Colin, Neil, Ryan, Luke, Darrel, Ahmed, Alister, Anna, Evan, Georgia, Kira, Tatiana, Nora, Amber, Oliver, Jeff, Alex, Kerry, Vendela…all brilliant poets.
Maura, Oliver, Nick, Jeff, Katy, Amy, Eliza, Peter, Alex, Tom, Vanessa, Stuart, Yansuo, Laurie, Kareen, Jenna, Emma, Alex, Ellen, Mike, Jake, Megan, Ahmed, Hiroki, Caitlin, Jane, Karen, Sarah, Peter, Maggie…brilliant writers.
And all the unnamed, hundreds, thousands of you…your sounds, faces and words, your pain, sweat and joy, your stories, ours…still alive in my memory.
You chose a path full of thorns and light. I hope you have no regrets.
I don’t, even though I was a “bad” teacher.
I wish I could attend Peter’s celebration at Macalester, a peach in full blossom.
* In China, peach and plum blossoms are euphemism for students.
The discrimination case, Wang vs. Macalester College (see my previous three posts for more information) has really touched a nerve with a lot of people, immigrants, minorities, and women who feel unfairly treated and discriminated in the workplace and in the society; and with everyone who values fairness, equality and peace.
I didn’t know Wang Ping in person before I read the Macalester student newspaper article English professor brings discrimination suit on Friday, Feb. 15. 2013. After reading that article, I became very interested and felt a lot of sympathy for her. Her case really touched a nerve in me. And it has obviously touched a nerve for so many others as well.
Just within hours, a support group, We Support Wang Ping, was formed on Facebook. The membership is growing.
More news media has picked up the story in the last two days. The wave has just started, but it’s getting bigger quickly. Who knows, a tsunami wave could be on the horizon.
I will follow the case closely and give updates as I learn more.
Here are some articles published in the local newspapers:
Star Tribune -
by JENNA ROSS, Tue., Feb. 19, 2013 at 5:58 AM
City Pages -
by Olivia LaVecchia, Tue., Feb. 19 2013 at 11:24 AM
Pioneer Press -
by Mila Koumpilova firstname.lastname@example.org
About Wang Ping
Minnesota Original videos (videos from 2012)
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/04/30/wangping (Text and audios from May 1, 2007)
Wang’s interviews with Euan Kerr, reporter at Minnesota Public Radio
“As a writer Wang says the thing she wants to do, is simply to be honest.”
This post is related to the previous two posts about the discrimination case of Wang vs. Macalester College.
I hear her heart’s crying for help and feel the helplessness when being let down by EEOC and the place she loved to work for.
Yes, bullying happens at school, but also in the workplace.
You said that’s what you are here for, a place for the wronged and oppressed to speak, a light for those in the tunnel…so I wept.
You said you were floored by such evidence, such blatant discrimination, and you’d start the discovery…ASAP…so I wept.
You ordered the documents. They arrived in a big box, all the files and letters and more evidence…and I wept.
A year passed by. No news, only the choke around my neck. Harder and harder to breathe, to speak, to teach…so I wept.
One day a letter from you arrived. No direct link to your claims…case dismissed…so I wept.
“You still have 90 days of the right to sue,” she mumbled on the phone as I wept.
“I wish I had never complained, dear EEOC…” But you turned off the light, and closed the door. In the dark, the pack is closing in…so I stopped weeping, and stood up, in horse stance…
Here is some additional information regarding the discrimination lawsuit I wrote about in yesterday’s post.
Ping WANG, a Chinese immigrant, a prominent writer with multiple awards, an English Professor at Macalester College (MC), is involved in a discrimination suit with MC. The case was made public via the MAC weekly student newspaper on Feb. 15. I became aware of the case after reading the article.
In her response to my comment on her Facebook, Wang said: “I’m fighting this mostly because I know this happens everywhere, all the time. AAUP (american academy union for professors) is overwhelmed by the discrimination cases. So is EEOC and human rights department.”
Wang posted a detailed timeline and some background info on her Facebook. (In case you can’t access it, I copied and pasted below)
Dear Friends, this statement serves the following purposes:
1. Clarify my litigation with Macalester to prevent misunderstandings.
2. Macalester is investigating my work, teaching, service, education and employment history, medical, criminal and tax records since my childhood, including everything I’ve done with the Kinship of Rivers project. This involves hundreds of people. I just want to inform you that we have done nothing illegal. Kinship of Rivers project promotes arts and cultural exchanges between China and USA. My applications for promotion, appeal for the denial, and my complaint to the Human Rights Department about the discrimination and retaliations are my right as a legal alien.
3. Please hang onto your emails, blogs, photos…as Macalester has requested everything, every word and document in every possible form related to the above subjects, and since I know I don’t have everything (some forgotten, some deleted in the past), please go through my answers to Macalester’s interrogatories and forward your additional information.
4. Transform the destructive force into something more constructive so that we can all work together to achieve Macalester’s mission as well as mine: multiculturism, internationalism and service to society, and most importantly, the focus on justice and human rights.
Here’s a quick outline of what happened.
1. In 2010, I applied for the promotion and was denied, even though I had 10 published books, and met all the requirements for excellent teaching and service according to the college Handbooks, especially in comparison to my colleague who applied for an early promotion, who had less credentials.
2. I appealed to the college.
3. The Appeal Committee found several procedural errors (breach of academic freedom as one of them) and recommended President Rosenberg to correct the errors.
4. President Rosenberg denied the appeal.
5. I started experiencing retaliations to prevent me from doing my research and then teaching.
6. I filed a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2011.
7. EEOC found strong discriminating evidences and investigated Macalester, and then dismissed my case in 2012. I was told they did find that I was disadvantaged by unequal treatments, but they couldn’t find the direct link to the discrimination. EEOC gave me 90 days the right to sue. (Dec. 3, 2012)
8. My attorney contacted Macalester, via phone and email, for a reconcile meeting, in November 2012. We made it clear that it was not about money, but about better work relationship with the administrators.
9. The administrators ignored my request for such a meeting.
10. On December 3, 2012. My attorney served Macalester the lawsuit for the ongoing retaliation I’d been experiencing since my internal faculty appeal in 2010, which include the funding cuts for teaching, student publications and classroom work, and denial of support for my major scholarly work, the Kinship of Rivers project.
11. On 12-21-2012, Macalester answered it by filing the suit with the court and thus brought the case into the public sphere.
12. Fagre & Benson (Macalester’s law firm) requested every name of the people I have talked/written to about the promotion, denial, retaliation, and Kinship of Rivers project (phone, email, blog, facebook, twitter, diaries, videos, and any other medium of communications). They also requested all of my legal, tax and medical history, everything about the Kinship of Rivers project, the promotion and my complaints.
13. Fagre & Benson set 2/15/13 to depose me.
14. I asked to postpone the deposition because it was during the Chinese New Year.
15. Fagre used a British teaching kit for kindergartens to repute that Chinese New Year is not religious or cultural, therefore my request is “opportunistic,” and I need to “swear under oath” that Chinese New Year is religious or cultural” for the postpone request.
16. 2-1-2013, Fagre & Benson declared that mediation is impossible at this stage and asked the judge to set the trial date in court 1/14/14, then requested us to comply by Feb. 22, 2013. (See the informational statement)
Since 12-21-2012, I have been working day and night to answer their interrogations and gather the materials they demanded. I have no sleep, just naps between the labor; no holidays (Christmas and New Year), no spending time with my children, canceled my trip to take my children to Wisconsin Dells (no money or time), and of course, no more time to complete the manuscript my publisher has been waiting for. (I am on half-pay sabbatical to complete the book.)
The materials I’ve gathered filled up a 32 GB flash drive. Since it contains only a small portion of what they want, Macalester will come to my home and office to get the materials, which include the 2000 river flags made by 2000 people along the entire Mississippi, the St. Croix, the Minnesota, the Fraser, the San Antonio, and other rivers. These flags are our gifts to the Yangtze River when we travel to China in July and August.
Macalester also demanded me to pay its legal fees. Their law firm is the most expensive one, and they are using many hours to push for a trial.
“This is very, very punishing,” said a civil rights lawyer from NYC.
Everyone I talked to, lawyers, friends, colleagues, is confused. Why is Macalester so punitive, so unwilling to consider a better work relation?
I can’t answer. All I know is that I kicked the hornet’s nest by complaining about the administrator’s unequal treatments and retaliation.
I always know that as a woman and a Chinese immigrant, I have to work harder and achieve more in every aspect: scholarship, teaching and service, in order to survive the academia, especially at Macalester with its record of high minority faculty turnover
I was confident I could survive when I started teaching at Macalester in 1999. I knew how to work hard and efficiently, especially when I do what I love: writing, teaching, and doing good things for the community. I loved Macalester’s mission for multiculturalism, internationalism and civic engagement, especially its focus on justice and human rights; I loved the students, loved my colleagues, and loved the communities. I had already published five books with awards and national fellowships. So as long I kept my mouth shut, I should be able to make it.
Thus I began my life with Macalester, three weeks after I gave birth to my second son through a difficult labor with surgery. I could barely walk when I started my full teaching loads, Monday Wednesday and Friday, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. I asked for a later schedule, because it was too stressful, emotionally and mentally, to break away from my three-week-old newborn in the early mornings. My kind-hearted department chair told me I should “endure” it. I understood he was trying to protect me from being marked as a “trouble maker,” as he had protected me as my chair during my first six years at Macalester. He even tried to protect me in 2010 after his retirement, advising me not to complain to EEOC because it would definitely mark me as a “trouble maker.”
So I endured and gave everything I had to Macalester, teaching, advising, researching, and serving on committees. I published ten books, gave hundreds of readings and lectures at Macalester and around the world, helped expand the creative writing program from a single tenured position into four tenured positions, worked with Asian Studies to build a thriving Chinese program, created many interdisciplinary courses that combine writing with immigration, environment, rivers, justice, public health, spirituality, and science. I spent hundreds of hours writing grants to take students on canoe trips along the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers and Lake Itasca, introducing the students to Minnesota’s forgotten history and living nature. I also spent many hours (fund raising and logistics) to bring 43 nationally and internationally renowned poets, writers and artists to Macalester, including the Nobel Prize finalist Beidao, Pulitzer-winner Yusef Kamayakaa, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, explorer and environmentalist Will Steger, great poets and writers from China, from Native American communities, and the park rangers from the National Park Service. My efforts have been used as examples of Macalester’s mission. My classes, trips and interviews appeared constantly on Macalester’s web homepage, news and journals. My students became Rhode Scholars, best-selling authors with major literary awards, professors, and one is among the top 3 candidates for a tenure tracked position for fiction at Macalester.
President Rosenberg (the same president who denied me in 2010) praised in my 2005 promotion letter that my teaching “is well-suited to Macalester’s focus on internationalism,” that “as an exceptionally gifted poet, writer and theorist,” I had “already accomplished more than a lifetime’s work,” and finally, in addition to my “teaching and…scholarly and creative productivity,” my “service brings honor to Macalester College” (Wang Ping’s 2005 FPC promotion letter).
People always ask: How did you get all these things done? Did you ever sleep?
“Because I’m doing what I love,” I reply with a smile. It’s the truth. At the same time, deep down in my heart, I know I’ve been stacking up my credentials so I could prove to Macalester that I am good enough, that I could stand next to my colleagues as an equal.
When I applied for the promotion in 2009, everyone believed it should be straightforward. I added 3 more books to my “lifetime work,” (10 in total), had won more book awards and fellowships (including McKnight Award, Minnesota Book Award, etc.), won Mellon Grants to create 3 more interdisciplinary courses that the college used as samples of Macalester’s mission, served on various committees for Macalester and ACTC and other literary communities at a loss of my own salary (I was doing so much service that I had to take a course reduction at 1/5 of salary cut). I traveled to different cities as Macalester’s “Road Scholar.” My photos decorated the college’s admission office as well as President Rosenberg’s office and hallway as a showcase for Macalester’s internationalism.
One can imagine the shock and confusion when the Provost called me into her office and told me I was denied the promotion because I was a poor teacher and didn’t do enough for Macalester. She told me I must not compare myself to my colleague who got his second early promotion with 2 books, must not tell the denial to anyone, must not apply again for years to come.
I appealed; the appeal committee found the denial violated the academic freedom and Macalester’s handbook rules. President Rosenberg refused to correct the errors.
January 2011, I filed the discrimination claim to the Human Rights Department and EEOC.
When the case was dismissed in 2012, I had two options: 1) to let it go; 2) to bring the issues to the court.
By then, I had applied for the promotion again. Thanks to the support from my students, colleagues and friends from Macalester, the Twin Cities and the nation, and through many efforts to force the administrators to correct the errors that would have jeopardized my second application (please see details in “Ping’s legal timeline with Macalester”), I was finally granted the promotion. I wanted to devote my energy to teaching, writing, and service, and devote more time to my growing children. I was willing to let it go even though I had been experiencing more and more difficulties teaching and researching at Macalester: the cut of my department fund to bring visitors, field trips, and making photocopies of students writing (I had to pay some of the teaching cost out of my own pocket), the President and Provost’s refusal to allow Macalester to sponsor the Kinship of Rivers project as its fiscal agent when a museum showed interest in giving the seed fund, and the grant officers telling me clearly that they are not allowed to help me in any possible way with my project.
But I still hoped for one thing: to have a better work relationship with the administrators so that I could teach, research and serve better at Macalester.
So my lawyer contacted Macalester for reconciliation. When we got no answer, we served a complaint to Macalester on 12-03-2012.
The administrators responded by filing in court on 12-21-2012, setting up a deposition and trial date, pushing this into the public arena.
The legal process is arduous, expensive, and destructive, for both sides. A single face-to-face meeting, a gesture of mutual respect, a kind word from the President, could have averted this suit…
My life is shattered, of course. Worst of all, so many of my friends and colleagues are dragged into this mess, thousands of dollars will be spent, more ill feelings, misunderstandings and isolation generated, morale destroyed…
“How much more does a woman have to do to be an equal to a man?” asked my colleague, weeping when she heard I had been denied promotion.
“How much more does a MINORITY WOMAN have to do to be an equal?” I ask.
This is the question I have been asking myself everyday since the Provost told me that I didn’t do enough service, even though I sacrificed my own salary to serve Macalester and the communities, that I had failed to teach good criticism and techniques even though I had every student’s writing to prove them otherwise…
I came to America with $26 in my pocket, with a dream for a better life in a country where one would not fear to be harassed, terrorized, or arrested for speaking truths, where one had the freedom for creative, individual and spiritual expressions, where everyone was treated as an equal. In America, I thrived, earning my PhD, becoming a teacher, author, photographer, judge for literary communities, a public speaker, and director of the Kinship of Rivers project that brings the two greatest rivers together through poetry, art, music, dance, food…I do all these as my gratitude to the two cultures that raised and nurtured me, to the people from the two countries who believed in me.
I ask to be treated as an equal to my colleagues despite my gender, religion, and nationality. I ask for reconciliation, peace and harmony. I know my teaching and scholarship and service have brought only honors to Macalester, and will bring more to Macalester and our communities.
There is no need to punish and drag a hard working Chinese immigrant to ruins. We, immigrants, women, and minorities are also humans. We have the right to be treated equally, to stand up for ourselves when we feel wronged. We work hard to contribute to American culture and economy. We are part of the American Dream. Please don’t shatter it.
I’m still hoping to sit down face to face with the administrators for a conversation, to acknowledge and understand each other’s needs, to transform this into something positive, collaborative, and beneficial to everyone in the community. Again, it’s not about money, but about working together to make Macalester truly live up to its standards.
During the intense month of gathering evidences for Macalester’s discovery on me, I have rediscovered myself and the communities where I have thrived. Without your support and inspirations, I could not have arrived where I am now. So thank you, my students, friends, colleagues, and all the communities who have worked with me and supported me through the journey. I want to assure you that you’re safe. Everything we’ve done together only adds beauty and goodness to the communities. I want to thank my two children who have endured my “work habits.” I promise that as soon as the tangle is over, I’ll take you on a well-deserved vacation. I am especially proud of Macalester, its students, faculty and staff I’ve worked with so closely and spiritually in the past decade. I have always believed, and still believe, that Macalester is truly dedicated to justice and human rights, to “its high standards for scholarship and its special emphasis on internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.”
Let this be our truth and harmony. Let this be our daily deed.
List of References and Documents
(Please email email@example.com for all the documents listed here. You can also find them at the Ramsey Court)
1. Macalester’s court filing on Wang Ping 12/21/2012 (with the 1st set of interrogatories, document requests, and deposition of Wang Ping)
2. Wang Ping’s court filing on Macalester 1/9/2013
3. Wang Ping’s answers to Macalester’s interrogatories
4. Informational statement-Macalester
5. Wang Ping’s Timeline at Macalester
6. Wang Ping’s legal timeline at Macalester (all the names are in initials, except for Wang Ping)
7. Wang Ping’s appeal letter to the Appeal Committee
8. The Appeal Committee’s letter to President Rosenberg
9. President Rosenberg’s denial to the appeal
10. Wang Ping’s post denial meeting with the Provost and FPC chair
11. 2005 FPC consensus letter for Wang Ping’s tenure promotion
12. 2010 English Department CRC letter for Wang Ping
13. 2010 FPC consensus letter for Wang Ping’s full professor denial
14. 2012 FPC consensus letter for Wang Ping’s full professor promotion
Discrimination against people based on gender, race, national origin, social and economic status, etc. still exists. There is no question about it.
I just read the article English professor brings discrimination suit about my Facebook friend Wang Ping (Here is her personal website) filing a suit against Macalester College in St. Paul for discrimination in the promotion process.
Wang is an English professor at Macalester College, teaching creative writing. I don’t know her personally, but was interested in meeting her, since we share some similar background and a common interest in writing. She agreed to meeting with me, but she was busy during the week or month I contacted her, and I never followed up and forgot about it (my bad!), So we have remained just Facebook friends.
Via Facebook, I learned about the lawsuit.
I applaud Wang’s courage to stand up for herself. With her action, she also set an example for others who have similar experience.
As you can read from her vita, Wang is an accomplished author and has made a name with her publications and awards in the literary world. I was surprised that someone with the success and status as Wang has was being discriminated. And it happened in an academic setting, where people should be more educated and open-minded and less discriminatory. I think Macalester should be happy to have her on board who brought recognition to the college.
Think about all the people in this country who have not achieved any success and status as Wang has. She will inspire them to stand up as well when facing discrimination in their lives.
In my own life, I have also felt discriminated at one time or another. In a way, I can identify with her mental anguish and emotional distress.
I want to wish her the best during this difficult process.
I attended the Envision Minnesota (formerly 1000 Friends of Minnesota) sponsored event “Little Free Libraries: Promoting Literacy, Community and Placemaking” at Macalester College campus tonight.
The event, which was part of the Creative Placemaking series, featured the biggest little movement to pop up on streets across Minnesota communities and around the world.
We saw a short film about the growth of the Little Free Library movement, heard from founder Todd Bol about how it got started, and participated in a discussion about the ways Little Free Libraries can add life to the street, bring neighbors together, foster literacy, and build communities.
More photos from the event are available on my Facebook.
What is the meaning in life?
Why is life so frustrating?
Is happiness within my reach?
In Searching for Heaven on Earth, Dr. David Jeremiah takes you on a 31 day journey through the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible into the deep questions of life.
Solomon, the wisest, richest and the most successful man ever lived on the earth, wondered just that. He found his answers and recorded in the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Dr. David Jeremiah is one of the best Bible teachers I have ever heard on radio. His Turning Point Ministry website provides great online resources and tools for learning.
The new online interactive study guide for the series provides a whole new way to study online. You can do the following from the comfort of your home and with a few clicks of the mouse:
- Listen to the radio message
- Watch the TV message
- Read the passage being studied
- Engage with relevant questions based on Dr. Jeremiah’s teaching
- Journal your prayers throughout the series
- Print all of your notes and prayers on a beautiful keepsake document
You can listen to Dr. David Jeremiah’s teaching on KTIS AM900 Faith Radio at 9 am or 8 pm on weekdays or 10:30 am Sundays.
Dr. David Jeremiah is coming to the Target Center for a Free Event in Minneapolis on April 4th. For more info and to request free tickets, visit his website.
Also check out Dr. Jeremiah’s Facebook.
My Year of the Dragon is over. Welcome to the Year of the Snake!
Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year in the traditional lunar calendar.
According to the Chinese lunar calendar, years are named after animals based on the rotating cycle of “Twelve Animal Signs.” Every year corresponds to one of the twelve rotating animals – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Every twelve years the same animal name reappears.
All those born in 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, or 2013 have Snake as their Zodiac sign.
People born in each animal’s year are said to have the personality of the animal. The personality traits of snake are:
wise and thoughtful (You are the deepest thinker), introspective and insightful, smart and clever, rational and logical, naturally intuitive with a sixth sense, charming, graceful, introverted, egoistical, skeptical, self-doubts, eccentricities, loneliness.
To learn more about the Year of the Snake, or the personality characteristics of your Zodiac Sign, check out the following links:
For more info about the Chinese New Year tradition, read my previous post the Year of the Tiger.
Happy Chinese New Year to all near and far who celebrate this special festival!
My daughter had basketball practice on Friday evening at Bailey Elementary School in Woodbury. During the one hour practice at 9-10 pm, I waited in the hallway and checked my emails.
The custodian saw me standing in the hallway alone. He stopped by and asked if I needed a chair. I said: “No, I am OK. Thank you.”
A few minutes later, he came back, set a chair behind me, without saying anything. When I noticed the chair, I was really touched.
I had a bad day and was feeling down. But this custodian’s simple act of kindness really warmed me up inside and made me feel better.
Thank you, Bill or John or Joel or Doug (Sorry I didn’t get your name) for your kindness. Through your example, you showed that no matter what you do in life, whether you are a principle or a custodian, your actions can touch people and make a difference.
Your simple act of kindness made a difference in my life.
P.S., I want thank all custodians at Woodbury schools. For my two kids’ basketball practices and games since last November, I have been at different schools several times a week. The custodians are mostly very nice and helpful. Thank you all for your kindness and for keeping our schools clean.
The new United States Postal Services postage rates went into effect on January 27, 2013.
The rate increase include:
- Letters (1oz.) — 1-cent increase to 46 cents
- Letters additional ounces — unchanged at 20 cents
- Letters to all international destinations (1oz.) — $1.10
- Postcards — 1-cent increase to 33 cents
Forever Stamps, the ones that remain good for mailing a one-ounce letter anytime in the future regardless of price changes, increased to 46 cents.
The USPS also introduced a new First-Class Mail Global Forever Stamp. The stamp allows people to mail letters anywhere in the world for $1.10.
Priority Mail rates also will see an increase. The new rates are as follows:
- Small box — $5.80
- Medium box — $12.35
- Large box — $16.85
- Large APO/FPO box — $14.85
- Regular envelope — $5.60
- Legal envelope — $5.75
- Padded envelope — $5.95
You can save postage by using the right sized envelope. Using a #10 envelope for mailing up to 5 sheets of paper instead of an 8 ½ x 11 envelope can save $0.46 in postage fees. Using a 6 x 9 envelope and folding the paper in half can also reduce postage by $0.46 up to 3.5 ounces.
In the United States there are 78 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964) who have already retired or will retire in a few years.
How do you live a rich and meaningful life in retirement? What do you do to live longer, stronger and happier?
Peter Spiers, Senior Vice President of Road Scholar, tries to answer that question in his book Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger, and Happier.
The book provides a road map for baby boomers to live an active and enriching lifestyle. Research shows that socializing, moving, thinking, and creating are keys to fulfillment in the retirement years. Spiers’ “Master Way of Life” is built on these four key dimensions —socializing, moving, thinking, and creating. His Master Class offers a holistic approach to blending these four dimensions through 31 master activities.
1. Socializing Activities:
- Scheduled socializing
- Participating in a book club
- Volunteering as a decent
- Playing bridge
- Working part-time
2. Moving Activities:
- Walking with friends for exercise
- Playing tennis
- Bicycling with friends for exercise
- Group educational travel
- Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity
3. Thinking Activities:
- Joining a Lifelong Learning Institute
- Writing poems, books, memoirs or family histories
- Researching your family’s genealogy
- Learning a foreign language
- Starting a business
- Joining an investment club
- Maintaining a website or blog
4. Creating Activities:
- Learning a musical instrument
- Playing in a band or an ensemble
- Singing in a choir
- Pursuing digital photography
- Joining a play-reading group
- Participating in community theater
- Pursuing an art or a craft
- Pursuing an advanced degree
- Volunteering in a consulting role (e.g., SCORE)
- Volunteering in a teaching role
- Volunteering in a leadership role
The book is largely based on research and interviews with Road Scholar participants.
Road Scholar is a not-for-profit, life-long learning and educational travel institution. Road Scholar programs operate in every state in the US and n 150 countries around the world.
Here is an expensive lesson I have learned and an important advice I want to share.
Be vigilant and check your bills and pay regularly. Don’t blindly trust anyone, any business or any employer. People make mistakes. If you don’t catch them and have them corrected, no one will do it for you. And you end up losing.
My two recent experiences will help explain what I mean.
Two months ago, my family bought two smart phones at BestBuy and had to upgrade our family plan. The bill from Sprint showed a charge of $385. I knew something was wrong and called Sprint. The sales person at BestBuy mistakenly created two separate plans instead of one family plan covering three lines. I expected to get a credit of over $100.
Today I received my new bill. I only saw a credit less than $50. So I called Sprint again. After talking to the supervisor, she acknowledged the mistake and gave me about $140 credit that was overcharged. She was apologetic and complimented me on being vigilant about my bill.
I have worked for the State of Minnesota for 13 years. State employees don’t get paid well comparing to people working in private sectors. We have not got any cost of living increase since 2008. In addition, the pay for information professionals ranks close to the bottom comparing to the pay for other professionals.
While I knew I didn’t make a lot of money as a librarian and a state employee, I did trust that I would get paid accordingly, whatever I should get.
As it turned out, that was not the case.
Recently after talking with coworkers about our salaries and taking a closer look at my pay history, I found out that I didn’t get paid correctly for 9 years. HR made a mistake and didn’t code my pay rate correctly in 2003, and no one noticed. I didn’t notice because I wasn’t clear about the union contracts.
I never questioned, because I trusted.
I am pretty good at checking my bills and receipts and spotting errors. But it never crossed my mind to be as vigilant about my pay. I assumed I would get what I should. I had a lot more trust in governments than businesses.
Now I will get my back pay. I am not happy about the fact that I will have to pay a lot more taxes for the mistake others made.
What an expensive lesson for me!
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Thanks to Rev. MLK, we are a better country now, and we enjoy a day off.
Today is also President Barack Obama‘s big day, his second inauguration was watched and celebrated by a huge crowd in DC.
Today is freezing cold in Minnesota. As I write this post at midnight, the temperature is at -17 F (-27 C).
It is an extraordinary day for many, but for me, it feels like just another ordinary day.
What did I do today? I had to think to recall what I did today.
I read Discovery 365-Day Devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah. During the week, I am often in a hurry to go to work and don’t have time to read in the morning.
I ventured out before 8 am, despite the cold, to meet with a couple of friends for breakfast. We knew each other for years, but the first time to go out together. We chatted for almost 3 hours.
I got an oil change and other maintenance work done for my car. That took over two hours.
I did some paper work. There are always so many bills, statements, and paper to deal with. As I have learned recently, not paying attention to your financial life can be a very expensive mistake and can cost you a small fortune.
I helped my son with his courses selection for the next school year. Well, he did it himself, I just sat and watched and commented.
I made sure that my son finished laundry and dish washing. He is almost 15 and can do all the chores, but still appreciates some reminder and help. When it comes to chores, we have the odd and even day rule. That reduces arguments.
I helped my daughter make cupcakes.
I cooked and made dinner, as I do every day.
My kids read to me in Chinese for a few minutes before bed. They don’t like to do it and don’t do it every day, but when they don’t have homework to do and when it is not too late, I make them do it.
I called a couple of friends. Through the conversation I found out that someone I know had a heart attack and an open heart surgery. How unpredictable and fragile life is! Afterwards I was telling myself, I needed to exercise more and sleep more, my belated New Year’s Resolution.
I called my parents in China to say hi. I call them at least once a week, usually more than once. When I called yesterday, they were playing Mahjong with neighbors, so we didn’t talk much. Thank God they were doing well. No bad news is great news. My parents are almost 80 year old.
I checked my emails on my iphone several times during the day. I know it’s not a good habit. I usually only write or respond to emails at night, because the iphone is too small for me to type anything meaningful.
An email message linked me to someone’s blog. I left a comment on her post. I like to leave comments with others’ posts to share my thoughts and ideas, offer some feedback and encouragement. Writers and bloggers like comments and encouragement.
I checked my Facebook, posted some comments and sent a message to a friend after reading his update.
I went through my photos taken last summer at Schloss Cecilienhof (Cecilienhof Palace) in Potsdam, Germany, selected some and posted on Facebook to brighten the day.
I didn’t have time to organize and select the photos earlier. I got thousands of photos from two big trips to Europa and East Coast last year to go through. Now the weather is so cold and I am hibernating indoor during the winter months, I am going back in time and reliving the beautiful summer through the photos.
The day was over before I could do more things I wanted to do.
Time is flying by so fast, every day, I often have a hard time remembering what I did today, yesterday and the day before. Every day is so ordinary, nothing extraordinary to stick in my memory.
And I am already late to bed, and I already broke my resolution to get more sleep.
I will lose my memory and my mind if I don’t go to bed now, the Doctor inside me says, again and again.
So I have to go now.
Good-night and stay warm!
Lifelong Learning Institutes (LLI) are health clubs for the mind. They offer noncredit courses and other learning opportunities to older adults.
LLI is not about class credits, grades, or tests. It is about exploring new ideas, interests, and making and enjoying new friends.
No assignments, no tests, no grades and no prerequisites - it is learning just for the joy of it.
Every state in the US has Lifelong Learning Institutes. You can visit this website to find a Lifelong Learning Institute near you.
The most well-known Lifelong Learning Institute in the country is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). OLLI programs are available at over 120 universities and colleges in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
The following LLI are in Minnesota.
Learning is Forever (LIFE)
Rochester Community & Technical College
851 – 30th Avenue SE
Rochester, MN 55904
Phone: (507) 285-7453
Fax: (507) 285-7110
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
University of Minnesota
250 McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street S.E
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: (612) 624-7847
Fax: (612) 624-7847
University for Seniors
University of Minnesota – Duluth
251 Darland Admin. Bldg., 10 University Dr.
Duluth, MN 55812
Phone: (218) 726-6347
Fax: (218) 726-6336
Mary Hunt is a bestselling author and a nationally syndicated columnist. Over the years I have enjoyed reading her tips and advice on handling money and living a debt-proof life.
In a recent column titled Don’t Let Kids’ Activities Break the Bank, Hunt says:
Twenty years from now, your worth as a parent will not be measured by the number of their activities, their SAT scores or their trophies. It will be measured by the depth of their character and the way they live their lives.
Isn’t that great advice and a good reminder?
In her new book Raising Financially Confident Kids, Hunt shares important lessons with parents on teaching kids how to handle money responsibly so they can become financially confident and independent adults. I think it’s a great book every parent should read.
When District 833 Superintendent Keith Jacobus started his new job last July, one of his goals was to make 100 visits in his first 100 days with students, staff and community members.
In November he completed his 100 Days, 100 Visits.
According to the Jan. 11 news from District 833, at the end of his first 100 days, Superintendent Jacobus had completed 128 formal meetings along with numerous informal visits to each school in the district and with non-school groups throughout the community.
Superintendent Jacobus asked four questions when he met with people from around the district:
- What is working well?
- What is working but could be improved?
- What, if anything, should be abandoned?
- What three suggestions do you have for the new superintendent?
I really like these questions. They are thought provoking and can generate very helpful feedback and great ideas.
I think every leader, manager or supervisor should ask their employees these four questions regularly, especially if he/she is new on the job.
100 days, 100 visits is a great concept for other leaders to adapt when they start a new job.
Superintendent Jacobus’s report One Hundred Days: One Hundred Visits is available on the district website.
I had a really interesting visit with Todd Bol, founder of Little Free Library, at his studio in Hudson, Wisconsin.
The visit was the result of my initial blog post on Dec. 17, 2012 titled A Little Free Library for Woodbury! and the resulting article In search of little libraries in Woodbury published in Woodbury Bulletin on Jan. 2, 2013.
After reading about my desire to put a Little Free Library (LFL) in Woodbury and on the LFL map, Todd Bol offered to donate one to me. He invited me to visit him at his studio to check the different options and pick one.
The Little Free Library studio is located at 573 County Road A, Hudson, Wis. Even though I was familiar with LFL and had read about it many times, I didn’t realize that the birth place and the center of the Little Free Library movement is so close to Woodbury. It’s less than 30 minutes of driving.
Bol grew up in Lake Elmo, Minnesota and now lives in Hudson, Wisconsin. His family went to the Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale. The Little Free Library at the Church is dedicated to his father.
Bol used to build his little libraries on the deck at his home. Only two months ago he moved his studio into the current warehouse location.
“It’s nice to be able to work indoors in winter now,” Bol told me.
Several little libraries outside the studio.
Bol showed me the one-room studio that has a stairway leading to the open second floor on one side of the room. It is a typical workshop.
There are finished but mostly unfinished little libraries. He said I could pick anyone I wanted, depending on how much work I was willing to do myself. Being a person who is not very handy, I decided to pick a ready made one.
I picked the one with the sign “Friendly by Nature, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.” Blue is not the color I would prefer, a green color would be nicer since nature is green, and reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle is about green living, but I just loved the sign and what it conveys. This Little Library combines my passion for library and green living in a perfect way.
Bol showed me the first little library he was making for Africa. They have a partnership with Books for Africa and will be building more of them.
We had some time to sit down and talk. I learned about Bol’s interesting background.
Bol is a social entrepreneur and economic modeling specialist. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with majors in Education and Psychology and Sociology. He was a middle school teacher for a 5 years. Then he was a sales manager at Corporate Trade Center (a former 3M division).
Bol is the founder of several businesses/organizations, including EPT Cadre, Global Scholarship Alliance, and Care Forth, Inc. But what made him world famous is the Little Free Library.
“My passion is to create and develop self sustaining models that move economics, culture and society forward,” Bol said.
Bol is indeed “a transformational leader who can crystallize a vision with greater clarity, have more people see it, support it, align with it, contribute to it and join its final creation,” as his former clients said about him.
The Little Free Libraries have brought positive social changes.
They have far exceeded the oirginal goal of 2510 Little Libraries. The conservative estimate of Little Free Libraries in the world is between 5,000 and 6,000 in 36 countries. Around 800 are in Minnesota alone.
They have been in more than 900 media articles, news broadcasts and blogs reaching tens of millions of people. Nearly two million people visited LFL website; between 4,000 and 32,000 per day. The movement has nearly 21,000 Facebook subscribers, growing by 300 to 400 each week.
Two new documentary films were released: Because It’s Small and A Small Wooden Box: The Little Free Library Movement. They are on Youtube along with 30 other videos.
Bol is now known around the country and world, yet he remains a very down to earth, humble guy. I love what he is doing and also his generosity and humility. Bol was so kind. He not only donated the library to me, but also offered to help me install the library. What an honor for me to receive such a generous gift!
I left Bol’s studio with a really cool little library, an armful of books, much appreciation for Bol, great excitement about the future of Little Free Library, and a strong desire to help it grow.
My next job is to find a location for my little library.
Todd emailed me last Friday after reading the article In search of little libraries in Woodbury, published in Woodbury Bulletin last Wednesday and on its website the following day.
He said: “I am the founder of Little Free Library and in charge of building. We will donate one to your dear city. All you need to do is contact me.”
What a great news to receive!
Hudson, Wis. is the birth place and the center of the Little Free Library movement now spreading around the world. Since Woodbury is geographically very close to Hudson, only separate by a river and with 20 minutes of driving, I feel we definitely should have more of them in Woodbury. So I would still encourage Woodbury residents to come forward and help build Little Free Libraries for the community.
Won’t it be nice to have one Little Free Library in every neighborhood?
Thanks Todd for what you are doing and for your generosity!
If you are looking for a job in Minnesota or have jobs to offer in Minnesota, be sure to check out the MinnesotaWorks.net.
MinnesotaWorks.net is a service provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and supported by employer tax dollars. There is no fee to use this service.
MinnesotaWorks.net is an Internet-based self-service system where employers and job seekers can find each other.
Job seekers can post up to five resumes to be searched by employers. They can also search for job openings and be contacted by e-mail when new job postings meeting their search criteria are found by the system.
Employers can post job openings. They can also search for job candidates, recruit job seekers online, and elect to receive emails when new resumes are found that match their requirements.
If you are looking for jobs in the Minnesota state government, check out this website. The State of Minnesota is the largest employer in Minnesota. There are career opportunities in more than 100 agencies in locations throughout the state.
Occupational Employment and Wages (OES) is another great tool used to find the typical wages for careers in a specific county or region in Minnesota. This tool is updated quarterly with statistics from employers.
If you are interested in future job fairs, click here to find one in your area.
Woodbury Bulletin reporter Amber Kispert-Smith interviewed me last week and wrote the following article In search of little libraries in Woodbury as the result of my blog post on Dec. 17, 2012 titled A Little Free Library for Woodbury!
Thanks Amber for your interest in the topic and for your time doing the interview and writing the article.
In search of little libraries in Woodbury
by Amber Kispert-Smith
Published January 2, 2013 in Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury resident Qin Tang, whose Area Voices blog “On My Mind” is featured on the Woodbury Bulletin website, has started an effort to bring a “Little Free Library,” or neighborhood book exchange, to Woodbury.
Have you seen the miniature schoolhouses around the Twin Cities that act as a home for books?
The “Little Free Libraries” as they are called have grown in popularity over the past three years and is a new way of sharing books among neighbors.
Woodbury resident Qin Tang, whose Area Voices blog “On My Mind” is featured on the Woodbury Bulletin website, has started an effort to bring one to Woodbury.
“I’ve known about it for a while,” she said. “I thought if we could get one in Woodbury that would be nice – it’s a cute idea.”
The ‘Little Free Library’
The first “Little Free Library” in was started by Todd Bol from Hudson, Wis., in 2009 when he placed a homemade wooden box on a pole in his front yard containing a dozen or more books free for the taking. Its popularity led Bol and his friend Rick Brooks to form the nonprofit group Little Free Library.
Essentially, the “Little Free Library” is a miniature schoolhouse, which invites passersby to take or donate a book.
“It’s like a little dollhouse where you take a book, leave a book,” Tang said, “or take a book and bring a book back.”
The mini-libraries are typically handmade by whoever starts them and include “Little Free Library” signs that can be ordered from the group’s website.
Since the libraries are unlocked and typically not patrolled, they rely on the honor system, Tang said.
“It just takes on its own life,” she said.
Since 2009, according to the “Little Free Library” website, more than 2,500 such libraries have sprouted up in more than 40 states and countries, including Germany, Ghana and India.
In the Twin Cities, the closest “Little Free Library” is at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale. The church has two libraries – one located in its courtyard for prayer and grieving books and one in a pine tree behind the church for gardening books.
“The libraries can have any kind of books,” Tang said. “It depends on what most people in the neighborhood read.”
Building a library in Woodbury
Tang, who is a librarian at the Minnesota Department of Transportation library in St. Paul, said she had known about the mini-library concept for a while, but when she saw one in a refurbished telephone booth in Germany, she decided it was something that would be nice to have in Woodbury – despite the fact that Woodbury already has its R.H. Stafford Library.
“It’s just a little book exchange, so it’s not competing with the library at all,” she said. “I think it’s a nice tool to build community and promote literacy.”
Even though Tang said she would be willing to manage the project and even have it located in front of her house, she said she needs to find someone who is willing to build it.
“Little Free Libraries” can be purchased pre-made from the organization’s website, but Tang said she thinks it would be nice to find someone local who is experienced in woodworking.
“I think it would be nicer to make one that’s more customized and tied to Woodbury,” she said.
One option Tang said she considered was reaching out to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts about making it a possible project for them.
“I’m sure there are people in Woodbury who are handy and who can make one,” she said.
The “Little Free Library” website includes instruction on how to build the structures.
Tang, who lives in the Eagle Valley neighborhood, said she could see the “Little Free Library” going up anywhere in Woodbury.
“I just want to get one here somewhere,” she said. “Usually they’re in neighborhoods though because kids walking by can stop and check out a book.
“But right now I just want to have one so it can go any place.”
Tang said she is optimistic a “Little Free Library” can find its way to Woodbury.
“Now people spend so much time playing games and on the Internet, so people are reading less and less,” she said. “If we have something in the neighborhood – especially something they can see when they’re outside walking or kids are outside playing – they can stop by and check it out and maybe find a book that they want to read.
“Maybe we can do one in all the neighborhoods in Woodbury.”
More information on the “Little Free Library” movement can be found at www.littlefreelibrary.org. Anyone interested in starting a “Little Free Library” in Woodbury can contact Qin Tang at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a parent of teenagers and need to learn how to set boundaries with your teens, I would recommend the book Boundaries with Teens by Dr. John Townsend.
The part I liked the best from the book is about the four anchors of boundary setting.
Use the Four Anchors of Boundary Setting (chapter 17, pp. 113-119)
Every boundary-setting conversation or situation must make use of four anchoring principles. As anchors stabilize ships, these four principles can provide stability, focus, and clarity to parents who want to establish healthy and appropriate boundaries with their teen. When applied to boundary setting, these principles help parents optimize the chances for success with the teen.
Anchor #1: Love – I am on your side.
Always begin with love. Love will help your teen hear what you are saying, accept the boundaries and tolerate the consequences. This is true for all of us. When we hear hard truths from someone who cares about us, we need to know that the person is on our side. Otherwise, we are liable to feel hated, bad, worthless, unloved, offended or victimized.
Anchor #2. Truth – I have some rules and requirements.
Love opens the door to change but is not enough. Truth provides guidance, wisdom, information, and correction. Truth exists in the form of rules, requirements, and expectations for your teen. They are the dos and don’ts that spell out what your teen needs to do and what he needs to avoid.
Anchor #3: Freedom – You can choose to respect or reject the rules.
Your teen has probably exercised freedom to make some poor choices, and you haven’t seen much good come from that. But freedom is absolutely necessary, for a couple of reasons:
- You can’t really make your teen choose the right thing. There is a lot you can’t control in your teen. You aren’t present for much of her life, so you can’t control what she does in school and with her friends.
- Freedom to choose poorly is necessary to learn to choose well. Even if you could “make” your teen do the right thing, it wouldn’t help him develop into a mature, loving, responsible person.
Anchor #4: Reality – Here is what will happen.
If the only anchors were love, truth and freedom, they would not be enough. Children raised with only these three principles can easily become out of control. A fourth anchor, reality. adds the necessary balance. Simply put, reality defines what is or what exists. For our purposes, however, I am using the word to describe what exists for the teen in the form of consequences. That is, if she chooses to utilize her freedom to reject the rules and cross the line, she will experience consequences. Teens need consequences, because that’s how they experience a fundamental law of life: good behavior brings good results and bad behavior brings uncomfortable results.
The next time you decide you need to have a boundary-setting conversation, be sure you tell your teen:
- “I love you and am on your side.”
- “I have some rules and requirements for your behavior.”
- “You can choose to respect or reject these rules.”
- “Here is what will happen if you reject these rules.”
When you use these four anchors, you are providing the stability, clarity, and motivation your teen needs to begin to learn self-control and responsibility.
For the record, I am a conservative driver and have a clean driving record. In my 20 years of driving history, I have never got a speeding or other driving violation ticket.
In the last 2-3 months, I run the red-light twice in Woodbury. I didn’t want to, but I felt I had no choice.
The most recent incident happened around 10:30 am on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. I drove from Currell Boulevard to Valley Creek Road. I needed to make a left-turn or U-turn at Valley Creek and Bielenberg intersection to go home near Woodbury Drive.
As I turned right from Currell Boulevard to Valley Creek Road, I noticed a USPS mail truck made a U-turn at Valley Creek and Bielenberg intersection while the light was red. It surprised me. Since I had bad experiences (long waiting) at that intersection, I wasn’t totally surprised.
Now it was my turn to wait at the same intersection. I waited and waited, saw the lights on the other sides turning from green to red and from red to green 2-3 times, but my left-turn light stayed red unchanged. Finally after waiting for a while, I lost patience. I didn’t know whether the light was in or out of order. So I decided to follow suit and made a U-turn when there was no cars coming from the opposing side.
Several weeks ago I had another running red-light experience at the intersection of Bailey Road and Pioneer Drive. I was leaving East Ridge High School and needed to cross Bailey to go straight on Pioneer Drive. But the red light won’t change, even thought the lights on Bailey changed 2-3 times.
I didn’t know what’s wrong with the traffic lights. Do other residents in Woodbury run into similar problems with red-lights?
The current traffic signal pattern is another thing I do not like.
At busy intersections such as Woodbury Drive and Valley Creek Road or Woodbury Drive and Hudson Road, the traffic signal pattern used to be simple and predictable – left turns first and then straight traffic on opposing sides. It was efficient in my opinion.
Then about 2 or 3 years ago the traffic signal pattern changed. Now it seems unpredictable and inefficient to me. Instead of having left-turns go simultaneously in both directions, the traffic from one direction goes first. The other left-turning vehicles have to wait their turn at the end. Since I have to wait longer for my left-turns, I do not like the new traffic signal pattern.
I wish we had more roundabouts and more flashing yellow lights in Woodbury. I think they are more efficient. They could save some time and frustration from unnecessary or long waiting at intersections.
As I think about the year that is ending today, this phrase came to my mind: life is short, eternity is long.
In 2012, several acquaintances passed away due to cancer, a few more with cancer are facing death at this moment.
Time goes by so fast, every minute, every hour, every day, every year, every life time.
Life comes at you fast. It passes by fast.
None of us know how long we have on this earth. It can be seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, or years. Sooner or later, before you know it, it’s gone.
But there is life after death. We have eternal life in Jesus Christ.
The Bible says:
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
The earthly and worldly things are temporary, but God’s kingdom is eternal. The things that have eternal value are to be sought over those things that have only temporary, earthly value.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” (Luke 12:31)
“I do not know what the future holds; but I do know who holds the future.”
Wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year, filled with love, joy, peace and God’s blessings!
During the holiday season, it’s fun to go to mail box and pick up mails. At least once a year, we not only get bills and advertisements, but also personal letters and cards.
More and more people are sending holiday greetings via email now which is faster and more convenient. But everyone still enjoys receiving letters and cards in the mail.
In the last few days, my family has received a few greeting cards from people who are old fashioned like myself, I mean it in a good way.
Among all the cards we received, one stood out and was really special for me. The funny thing is it was not even addressed to me, it was addressed to my daughter from her 7th grade teachers at Lake Middle School.
The holiday photo card has a group picture of the 7th grade teachers and administrator from Lake and the Happy Holiday wishes: “Wishing you a happy holidays and happy new year! Enjoy your break!”
Wow, imagine the teachers sending out the cards to 388 7th grade students!
Before we received the card in the mail, I had already heard about it from my daughter, because her friends had received it and told her. I am sure the students were happily surprised by the card.
I was impressed and thankful for what these teachers did. A simple act of kindness and thoughtfulness can mean a lot to people.
Thanks to all the teachers for teaching and loving your students, and for protecting them when needed (thinking about the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting). A special thank-you to the 7th grade teachers and staff at Lake for the holiday card and for your loving-kindness.
Yesterday as I was driving home from work and opening the garage door, I realized that this was the Christmas eve, and I had not done shopping for Christmas gifts for my kids lately. I didn’t panic though. I knew I could make something and I could go shopping at home.
At night before bed my daughter asked me if I would do the Christmas treasure hunt again. I knew she would ask, since it is our Christmas tradition. “OK, I wish you had told me earlier.” Even though I had no clue what to do this year, I didn’t panic and kept my cool. I knew I would get an idea at the last minute. This was what often happened in the past.
Around midnight when everyone went to bed and it was quiet, I walked around house looking for treasures.
During the year, I buy and collect things that can be used for gifts. I found a Christmas book by Helen Steiner Rice my daughter would like. I found commemorative stamps (tiger and baseball stamps for my son who was born in the year of tiger and likes sports, and poet stamps for my daughter who writes poems), I found picture frames and later printed collages of photos taken during the summer travels, I found brand new dollar bills that I put in the holiday gift envelops, I found chocolates and candies …
An hour or so later, I got enough treasures to do the treasure hunt.
Then I spent the next 2-3 hours thinking, planning and writing the clues on cards. I prepared 10 clues and had 10 gifts for each kid.
The clue for money is:
Everyone loves this gift.
Everyone loves to get more of it.
Everyone works hard for it.
Everyone uses it.
It comes in different form, size and color.
You will be glad when you find it.
What is it?
The clue for the photos is:
Remember the trips to the east coast of the US and to Europe made this summer? This gift will keep those memories alive for a long time.
The clue for the book is:
God says man does not live on bread alone. It means you not only need food for your body, you also need food for your mind and soul. This gift is for your mind and soul. You can digest it every day and it will make you feel better.
By the time I was done and ready for bed, it was almost 4 am. I was not tired, I loved doing it.
My kids are teenagers now. They are not as super excited about the Christmas treasure hunt as when they were little. In addition, my daughter was sick and not feeling well since Sunday. So this time they didn’t wake up really early to go treasure hunt. But they still loved it and loved the treasures they found.
Christmas treasure hunt from the past:
About three weeks ago I sent a previous post to my kids and reminded them of My Christmas wish list.
Last night I asked my daughter Amy if she had written her poems yet. She said no. She had been sick since Sunday and was not feeling well.
I knew she is a procrastinator, but has a creative and poetic mind. She can write a poem in a few minutes if she wants to. And She would not disappoint me.
She wrote one poem last night in bed. She gave it to me as a Christmas present today. I always love getting her poems more than anything she could give me.
By Amy Guo
Dec. 24, 2012
One Christmas Eve, when it was almost midnight
I saw something, it was a bright light
Then I heard, some jingling bells
And whom did I see? I bet you could tell.
I heard hoof steps on the roof
Then a man appeared, with the sound of a “poof”
He wore a black belt, on top a red suit
He also had a pair of black shinny boots.
He had a big bag, filled with lots of toys
For all of the good girls and boys
He set some presents under the tree
I hoped that they would all be for me.
He ate all the cookies that I had set out
I hoped they were good, and he didn’t pout
He walked over to my stocking
And what he put in wasn’t that shocking.
He climbed up the chimney to the roof
Even though I saw him I had no proof
His reindeer were gone in a leap
Then later that night, I went back to sleep.
I would like to invite you to the Christmas celebration at Eagle Brook Church, located at East Ridge High School in Woodbury or 4 other campuses in Twin Cities.
You don’t have to RSVP, but you can visit this website to check the seat availability. The 3 pm service on Monday afternoon is the most popular one and seats might be very tight.
Hope you can join one of the six services this weekend. Come enjoy some Christmas music and a great message.
You can listen to the previous messages online here.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year!
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward
Mr. Denison responded my email and said: “Thank you for your recent letter to the editors of On Wisconsin in response to our article about Little Free Libraries. We always appreciate hearing from our readers, whether they compliment, criticize, or simply share their observations, because it provides us with valuable feedback. We’d like to consider running your letter in the next available issue, and we’re so happy to hear that you have been inspired to create your own Little Free Library! Good luck with the project, and thanks again for taking the time to write.”
I am thankful that I took the time to write this time. I know readers’ comments and feedback are invaluable to writers and editors. The comments and thank-you notes not only provide great feedback, they also provide great encouragement. People feel better when their work is valued and appreciated.
There were times when I wanted to write to the editor after reading an interesting article. I would save the article, meant to write the comment, but never took the time to actually do it. Soon the time flies by and it’s too late to comment.
I am also thankful that Mr. Denison took the time to write back as well. By showing his feedback and appreciation, he greatly encouraged me to do this again, to take time to write to editors and to show my appreciation.
During this holiday season, please take time to write a letter/card/email to someone whom you are thankful for.
A kind word will surely make someone’s day, it could also change someone’s life.
Little Free Libraries. They are popping up everywhere.
During my trip to Europe this summer, I saw one on the street in Berlin, Germany where my relative lives. An old phone booth was converted into a little free library.
Here in the US, the idea of Little Free Library began with Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009 when he placed a homemade wooden box on a pole in his front yard containing a dozen or more books free for the taking. Its popularity led Bol and his friend Rick Brooks to form the non-profit group Little Free Library.
Pretty soon, it launched the Little Free Library movement around the world.
Individuals or organizations can make or buy Little Free Libraries and install them near their houses or businesses. Take a book, leave a book is its motto. What a fun idea to promote reading, provide books for neighborhood kids and build communities!
Little Free Libraries - the small, wooden mini-libraries, resembling one-room schoolhouses – have become popular in Twin Cities. If you have not seen one in person, chances are you probably have read about them and seen a few in pictures.
You can find Little Free Libraries around the world on the world map.
The closest Little Free Library for Woodbury is located in Oakdale (at Guardian Angels Catholic Church courtyard behind building). It is filled with Books on Prayer and Grieving, see the picture here.
I have read a few articles about the Little Free Libraries in the local media. I found them interesting.
Recently I became more interested and inspired after I read another article about the Little Free Libraries in the University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni magazine On Wisconsin, titled It’s a Mailbox … It’s a Bird House … No, Wait, It’s a Library!
I want to have one in Woodbury and to put Woodbury on the world map!
How I wish my dad were living here in the US. He could build me a great one. He used to make all the furniture in my family when I was growing up. But he lives in China and is too far away.
I am wondering if there is someone in Woodbury who is handy and creative and would be willing to build a Little Free Library for Woodbury. I can take care of the rest.
Please contact me if you or someone you know want to build one.
Let’s work together to build a better neighborhood and a better community!
For reference and further reading…
Articles and videos about LFL in Twin Cities:
A mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, with 27 people shot to death, including twenty young children.
I was saddened by this horrible tragedy. I can’t imagine what the people in Newtown are going through now. My thoughts and prayers are with all victims and their families.
What a senseless act! What a tragic day for the families affected and for our nation!
How many mass school shootings do we have to witness before something will be done to stop it?
I think there should be a more strict gun law in this country. Better gun control is the first step in preventing such mass shootings from happening.
Another important aspect is to build healthy and strong marriages, families and communities, and to focus on parenting and raising children who are well rounded physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. A healthy person will not commit such a crime.
Reducing violence in the media and on games will also help reduce violence in real life.
I hope something will be done to stop the mass shootings.
If you are a parent, you have probably felt, at one time or another, inadequate, clueless or helpless in raising your child.
If you are a parent, you know you need help and support, advices and insights either from talking to experienced parents or reading books by parenting experts.
If you are a parent, you are busy and have no time to read parenting books on every subject you are interested in or every problem you encounter in parenting your child. This is a fact.
Is there a solution for this dilemma?
Yes, how about taking a few minutes a day and read a book, or the summary of a book on Parent Book Summaries?
Parent Book Summaries provides quick, easy-to-read digests and gives busy parents the key points from parenting, marriage, and family relationship books. This is a wonderful resource that every parent should take advantage of and can benefit from.
Parent Book Summaries saves time, helps parents stay current, be informed, and build knowledge. In a matter of minutes, parents can get helpful ideas from leading experts on how to raise great children and build strong families.
I went shopping today, on Black Friday, not to buy anything for myself though.
Last night after the Thanksgiving party at a friend’s house, my two teenagers wanted to go shopping at Kohl’s, because we got $10 certificate in the mail to spend. I had no interest in shopping so late, and the cold weather with flurry snow only motivated me to go back home and stay warm inside.
I was glad I didn’t go last night.
This morning around 9 – 10 am, we went to Sam’s and Kohl’s. My kids bought winter jackets and a sweater.
At Kohl’s, it was very crowded and the check-out lines were really long. I was amazed by how much stuff people buy, some with cartload of stuff.
Do we really need so much stuff? How much is enough?
I am not a fan of Black Friday or now Black Thursday shopping.
In the article “Black Thursday’ shopping stealing spotlight from holiday festivities?” by Riham Feshir, published in Woodbury Bulletin last Wednesday, Nov. 21, the author quoted me using the following:
Although she sees some benefits to Black Friday, Qin Tang, who writes the “On My Mind” blog featured on the Bulletin website, once referred to it as “Buy Nothing Day.”
“(It) shifts our focus on Thanksgiving from internal to external, from building meaningful relationships to finding good deals, from enjoying time together and relaxing to rushing out the door and buying more stuff,” she said. “It only encourages more consumerism and materialism in our already very materialistic society.”
The mother of two teenagers said young people are facing more temptations and more peer pressure to acquire more electronics, games and gadgets.
“This creates more challenges for parents like me,” she said. “I think the more stuff we buy; the more we try to fill our lives with things, the emptier our lives get.”
I think Thanksgiving is a special day for families and friends to get together, to enjoy each other and enjoy food, to build and strengthen relationships and friendships, to give thanks for what we already have.
By turning Thanksgiving into Black Thursday, we are taking away family time for both employees and consumers. Instead of spending time with families and friends, many people either have to work on Thanksgiving or want to go out shopping and not miss the special deals.
In Germany, the stores are closed on Sundays all year around. In the US, we have some stores open 24/7.
People are living busy lives. Families often don’t have regular dinner together, friends don’t have time to get together. I think Thanksgiving is a special holiday for families and friends, and not for shopping.
We should have at least one day in the year to focus our attention on being thankful for the abundance we have in this country and being content for what we have, not on buying more stuff.
If we are not thankful for what we have, if we do not have contentment, if we always want more, then there will never be enough.
More stuff does not necessarily make our life full, quite the opposite, it could make our life emptier.
Every year, one of the Black Friday deals from Sam’s Club is ordering 100 Photo Cards for $15, including gold or silver foil-lined envelopes. There is no shipping cost when you pick them up in store.
I usually take advantage of this deal to get my holiday greeting cards done during Thanksgiving.
Thursday morning, I spent a few hours looking through my photos taken this year and selected the best ones I wanted to use for the greeting card or for printing.
Then I uploaded these photos to my account at the Sam’s Club Photo Center. I selected the design I liked and added the photos to create my card.
Later at night, after I came back from the Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house, I submitted the order. The total for the 100 cards came to $16.07. They will be ready for pick up on Saturday morning.
I did everything from my home computer. It was convenient and comfortable, no need to drive to the store and wait in line.
This special deal is valid through this weekend.
If you are not a Black Friday shopper, but would like to enjoy some Black Friday special deals and have some fun things to do, there is good news for you. What’s more, you do not even have to spend anything.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts will open at 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 23, offering free admission to the special exhibit of China’s Terracotta Warriors – “China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy.” Free admission is only for one hour. The usual $18-per-adult admission resumes at 7 a.m.
The Minnesota History Center in St. Paul will also open at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving, as the museum opens the largest exhibit in its history – “Then Now Wow.” Free admission is for three hours from 6 – 9 a.m. Free parking and even free doughnuts will be available.
Both museums plan to serve coffee to keep everyone awake.
Lately I have being going to Eagle Brook Church in Woodbury for worship.
Eagle Brook Church is the largest Church in Minnesota, serving the greater Twin Cities area. Every weekend, more than 13,000 people attends the four services across five campuses.
The Twin Cities megachurch opened its 5th campus in Woodbury in Sept. 2011. It is located tempararily at East Ridge High School, with attendance around 2000 a weekend.
A new Woodbury campus site is being built at Eastview Road and Settlers Ridge Parkway. Heavy machinery has begun moving dirt and preparing the soil so that it can settle over the winter. The groundbreaking will happen in Spring 2013! The permanent site will be open in late 2014.
This weekend service was a special one. The congregation made the pledge for the One by One campaign to financially support the church planning and growth for the next two years – building the Woodbury campus and improving other campuses in Lino Lake, White Bear lake, Spring Lake Park and Blaine.
I also made my pledge. Someone has reached out to me for Christ, now it’s my turn to help reach others for Christ, especially in Woodbury. If I can just help create one seat, reach one soul, invite one of my family members or friends come to Christ, it will be worth.
I have completed the 14-Day Kindness Challenge created by Celes Chua on her Personal Excellence Blog. Along with some 800 participants, I did 14 acts of kindness over the 14-day period, from 1 Nov to 14 Nov.
Celes asked for feedback and comments from the participants. Here is my reflection.
How has the kindness challenge been for you?
It was a great experience. I made the commitment and followed through by doing the task every day and blogging about it. By sharing it with others, I held myself more accountable.
By being intentional in doing acts of kindness, I was also living a more intentional life.
The Challenge made me a kinder person, even if just for a little bit more, and improved my own life. I hope I have touched someone’s life in a positive way along the journey.
What has been your favorite task(s)? Why?
My favorite tasks are:
- #1 Day 3 - write thank-you notes
- #2 Day 9 – write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life
- #3 Day 4 – sign up for volunteer work
- #4 Day 12 – forgive someone
The first three tasks are something I have already enjoyed doing. They are easy for me. Forgiveness is not something I am good at, but I really need it in order to live a better life.
What have you learned from participating in the kindness challenge? What have you learned about kindness?
The challenge gave me a new mindset. It set my mind on a different path. Every day I focused my mind on doing something kind for others, so my thoughts were more positive than negative. Kind thoughts produce kind actions. It reinforced what Mahatma Gandhi said: “Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”
Kindness begets kindness. When I am kind to others, it’s not only good for others, it’s also good for myself, because I feel better.
A small act of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life.
How do you plan to integrate kindness into your life moving forward?
Doing something for 14 days can create a new habit. I will definitely be thinking about and doing more acts of kindness moving forward.
Anything you would like to see at PE moving forward? What is it?
I would like to see more people participate in this kind of challenge, more people visit your website and read your articles. Doing radio/TV shows, interviews will definitely increase your readership and audience.
Your energy, dedication and passion are very admirable. I truly appreciate all you do.
This is Day 14 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Do Something Unexpectedly Nice For Someone.
Today is also World Kindness Day – a day to celebrate and promote kindness in all its forms. World Kindness Day was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement. It is is celebrated in many countries.
Today I played secret Santa and gave someone a small gift anonymously. It’s something meaningful to that person that I knew would be appreciated.
If you are looking for ideas to do small acts of kindness and spread the kindness spirit, check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website.
This is Day 13 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Give Someone a Treat.
My teenager son had a club activity at school tonight. I was planning on baking some cookies for him to take to the event and share with other participants. I wanted to give not just someone, but several people a treat.
But it didn’t work out that way.
Nowadays, anything I do seems embarrassing to my teenagers. My son was not happy about my plan. He didn’t want to bring any cookies. He said maybe another day, but not today, at the first meeting.
So I ended up just sharing my cookies with the friend we do carpooling together. I was a little disappointed, but at least I did give someone a treat.
This is Day 12 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Forgive Someone.
As I shared in a recent post Forgive one another, it’s important to forgive. We do it primarily for ourselves. Our forgiveness of others is forgiveness for us and is freedom for us.
What does it take to forgive?
In his article Four Elements of Forgiveness, Dr. Ryan Howes talks about the following four common elements that effective forgiveness attempts tend to share:
- Express the emotion
- Understand why
- Rebuild safety
- Let go
Forgiveness does not happen immediate. It’s a slow process. Feelings of anger, sadness and hurt do not go away easily. They will come back from time to time, but it will be less intense.
Getting negative emotions out is really the first step in the process. Having an honest talk, sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone or writing down your thoughts and feelings are all effective ways to express your emotions.
There were few people in my life I needed to forgive. Once I truly understood the importance of forgiveness, I did.
I also have a few people in my life I needed to ask for forgiveness. I have hurt people with my choices and actions when I was younger. I did ask for forgiveness at the time.
My thoughts and prayer for today is I have forgiven everyone I need to forgive, and I have asked for and received forgiveness from everyone I should have asked.
This is Day 11 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Be Kind to Someone You Dislike.
It’s easy to be kind to people you like, but not so easy to be kind to people you do not like for whatever reasons – different value systems, different political views, different personalities, different lifestyles or work habits, different interests and backgrounds, etc.
If we can understand that no matter what our differences are, as human beings, we are basically the same, have the same needs and wants. We all want to be loved, understood, validated, respected, appreciated, acknowledged, recognized, and treated kindly. Maybe we will all be kind to each other, despite our differences.
Yes, this is something I need to learn and improve myself – treating everyone kindly no matter what the difference is, no matter how I feel.
Here is my small act of kindness for today.
Last night I reposted my van for sale on Craigslist. The first time I posted it a few weeks ago, I got several calls immediately the next morning. One buyer was willing to offer $500 more than the asking price. But unfortunately I couldn’t sell on that day because I wasn’t able to get the replacement car as I expected.
Today I got a couple of calls from interested buyers. The first caller (a couple) came immediately after the call and wanted to buy the van for their daughter. My sense was they would buy it for the listing price. But when they asked if I would lower the price, I did a little bit, just to be nice.
It feels like a win-win for both parties. I felt good for getting rid of the van and being nice to them, they felt good for not having to pay the full price.
Because we treated each other kindly, we got the deal done quickly and parted our ways friendly.
This is Day 10 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Send Flowers to Someone.
I was busy today shopping for a car to replace my big van that is no longer needed.
Buying/sending flowers is not something I normally do anyway. So I was going to skip today’s task. Then I thought it would be nice to send something to someone.
My own idea of doing something nice for someone today is to write a letter and send photos.
Today I happened to get an email from someone and learned that she will soon be out of town for a few month. I wrote a letter (expressing my gratitude for the difference she made in my life and best wishes for her new adventure) and will send it to her with a couple of photos we had taken together during an event.
Flowers are wonderful gifts. They are really special, but I like photos as well, if not better. Flowers wither in a few short days, while photos last much longer and can keep memory alive down the road, even when our memory fades away.
This is Day 9 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Write a Letter to Someone Who Has Made a Difference in Your Life.
The one person who has made the biggest difference in my life was my high school teacher Mr. Sheng. He was my English teacher for only one year when I was a senior, yet his influence and impact on my life are profound and more than I can describe in words.
Mr. Sheng is in Heaven now with the Lord. While he was still alive, I told him several time in letters how thankful I was for him. I appreciated what he did for me. He is the most humble and selfless person I have met in my life. By living a Christ-like life, he showed me what love is and what real Christianity is.
I often think of Mr. Sheng, even though he is gone for many years. He is still my #1 hero and my inspiration. One of my goals in life is to honor and carry on the legacy he left behind.
Here is an article I wrote about him – Remembering my favorite teacher
I wrote a letter to him, I can’t email it or send it to him in Heaven, but I will keep it in my heart and share it with him when I meet him again in Heaven someday.
I also plan to write one or two more letters to people still alive who have made a difference in my life.
This is Day 8 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Pick Up Litter.
I agree that everyone has a responsibility to keep our environments clean. In addition to keep our house clean, we also need to keep our neighborhood, our community, our office, our city, and our country clean.
While I was at the Woodbury Dance Center tonight waiting for my daughter, I saw an empty coffee cup that was left on the table, and numerous pieces of trash on the floor. I intentionally picked them up and throw them into the trash can.
Later I was at Lake Middle School for my daughter’s basketball practice, I saw a janitor working. I intentionally said hi to her, smiled at her, to show my respect for her and my appreciation for what she does- to keep the school clean.
It’s really everyone’s job to keep our environment clean. So please do not litter and pick up litter if possible.
This is Day 7 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Make a Donation.
Every year, I make a donation to my favorite radio Faith Radio (AM 900 in Twin Cities) and/or other radio programs. But I haven’t done it this year. Today’s task gave me a needed push to complete something I wanted to do.
I think people donate because they have a passion for something, believe in something. I am not a dog or cat lover, so animal related causes don’t speak to me. I am not a cancer survivor, so cancer or other diseases related causes don’t attract me either. But I love listening to radio. Besides church, radio is the one place I try to make a contribution.
Every day I listen to Faith Radio, on my way to work or home, while I am working at the desk or cooking in the kitchen. My radio is set on this station. I love listening to Bible teaching, author interviews and all kinds of inspirational talks that Faith Radio has to offer.
Monetary donation is only one form of donation. Donation can come in different shapes and forms – time, talents and skills, items, etc.
Tonight I had a neighbor over for dinner. She has been a very helpful neighbor to me. I always wanted to invite her for dinner to show my appreciation and also to show her how to cook Chinese food as she was interested in learning.
Sharing time and meal together, showing hospitality, is a form of kindness.
This is Day 6 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Talk to Someone You Don’t Normally Talk To.
I called and talked to a friend who moved out of Minnesota to another state a few months ago. I also called and talked to my mother and a cousin in China. I talk with my mother at least once a week, but not regularly with my friend and cousin.
When it comes to initiating conversations with strangers, I am not shy. I enjoy talking to people I don’t know. It’s always very interesting. Yesterday I talked to someone I met for the first time for almost an hour while waiting at our kids’ basketball practice. Today she helped me get some information I needed.
It’s good to talk and connect with people.
This is Day 5 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge – Give a Genuine Compliment to at Least 3 People.
The first person I gave a genuine compliment today is Beth Freschi, a life coach who specializes in artists, creatives, and wellness. Once a month on the first Monday she comes to MnDOT to facilitate a relaxation session. She has done this since 2007, free of charge for any employees who are interested. She sets up the room before and after the session. She sometimes gives away her relaxation CDs and small gifts. She is one of the kindest and most generous persons I have ever met in my life.
Today after the relaxation session I told Beth what I thought of her: “You are one of the kindest and most generous persons I have ever met in my life.” I really meant it, from the bottom of my heart.
The second person I gave a genuine compliment is my daughter Amy. While sitting in the car waiting for my son to get out of school in the late afternoon, I asked Amy about her piano lesson on Sunday. She said she passed one of her two new pieces she had been practicing for the last week.
“Wow, you passed after only one week? That means you are really good at piano. You are talented.”
I know I often nag my daughter for not practicing her piano well, for not putting in more time and effort as she should and could have, for not working hard enough. But even without too much effort and hard work, she is obviously doing well. She just passed her MMTA (Minnesota Music Teachers Association) piano performance test level 8 on Oct. 27. Last year she passed level 6. We decided to skip level 7 and do level 8. She passed it.
I don’t give my kids enough compliments. I tend to see what they haven’t done or accomplished instead of what they have done and accomplished. So I was glad to give my daughter a genuine compliment today. She is really talented in different ways. Her poems and drawings have won prizes at the Minnesota State Fair every year since she started to enter the contest in 2009.
The third person I gave a genuine compliment was a stranger. I met her at my daughter’s first basketball practice tonight. She is the team coordinator. We chatted. I found out she homeschools her three elementary age kids. She has 5 kids in total. I think it takes a lot of discipline, dedication and commitment to homeschool kids. I genuinely admire parents like her for homeschooling their kids. I told her: “I admire you for homeschooling your kids. You are a great mom.”
I hope I have brightened these three individual lives a little bit with my genuine compliments today, even for just a moment.
This is Day 4 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge - Volunteer.
I love volunteering. I volunteer for the community and school events such as the annual Woodbury Days, library book sales, school book fairs, fundraising for non-profit organizations, etc.
My son was interested in joining the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team 3130 for East Ridge High School in Woodbury. Last week we went to the first informational meeting. I learned about the FIRST Robotics Team and what it takes to make it work and succeed.
The FIRST program relies totally on volunteers. Mentors help students build robotics. Parents help with logistics, from fundraising to providing meals and rides.
For today’s challenge, I am going to help with meals and possibly also fundraising for the FIRST Robotics Team 3130. The building season starts in January. I will post an update later.
This is Day 3 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge - Write 3 Thank-You Notes to 3 People You Appreciate.
Writing thank-you notes is something I like to do and do often, whether in the workplace or in my personal life. But I usually write thank-you notes in response to something happened, not usually write thank-you notes without a specific reason.
Today I intentially wrote 5 thank-you notes to people without any specific reason, just to say thank you for being my friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Some people might be surprised when they receive the note. It’s like out of blue, unexpected. I think the more unexpected it is, the more meaningful it will be.
I did all thank-you notes via email, that’s my primary communication tool now.
I also posted a general thank-you note on my Facebook, thank-you to all friends for being my friends..
In addition, I also wrote a thank-you note to my daughter by hand.
I have a small notebook for my daughter. Whenever I want to communicate something special to her, I write it in the notebook at night and leave it in her bedroom for her to read the next morning. This notebook grew out of my daily writing to my daughter which I detailed in the post “You’ve got mail!”
I thanked my daughter for her work during the past year to practice piano and prepare for the Minnesota Music Teachers Association (MMTA) test. She passed the leve 8 test last week.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are not too far away. I will write more thank-you notes during the holidays. Everyone needs some appreciation, recognition and encouragement that a simple thank-you can bring.
This is Day 2 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge. The task suggested is to give up your seat to someone.
Whenever I am in China and take public transportation, I always give up my seat to people who need it. But here in the US, like so many others who don’t live in big cities, I don’t take public transportation.
I would like to take bus to work, but there is no bus in my neighborhood. Even for people who take bus in the US, there is probably no need to give up their seats, because there are usually more than enough seats for everyone.
An opportunity to do an act of kindness presented itself today when I went to my favorite Farmer’s Market at Dale and University Ave. in St. Paul to buy some veggies.
It’s the end of the season. The weather is cold. Most Farmer’s Markets in the Twin Cities are already closed for the season. The last time (two weeks ago) I visited the Farmer’s Market at Dale/University Ave., there were still a lot of vendors. But today, only a handful of vendors were present. I bought different kinds of veggies from different vendors. At one stall, I bought almost all the winter melons left, total $18. I gave the Hmong woman $20 and told her to keep the change. When she understood what I meant, she added two extra to my pile.
I wanted to be kind to her, she returned my small act of kindness with her own act of kindness. It made me feel good to do good.
It is so true, kindness begets kindness.
It was not a happy moment for me and many MnDOT employees when we received the surprising email on Thursday morning from Commissioner Tom Sorel that he would be leaving MnDOT at the end of the month to become the President and CEO of AAA Minneapolis.
I knew the day would come, but it came unexpectedly. I hoped he would stay for three more years until the end of the Governor Dayton’s term. His leaving is a big blow for MnDOT.
Sorel became MnDOT Commissioner in 2008 after the I-35W Bridge collapse in 2007. He has been the best MnDOT Commissioner I know.
Sorel has done so much good for MnDOT and the state in the last 4 years - brought the agency out of the shadow of the tragic bridge collapse, improved employee morale, rebuilt trust and transparency. He is a servant leader with humility, trust and confidence. He inspires and empowers others. His trust and confidence in me have inspired me to get out of my comfort zone, to grow and develop new skills. Working on the Commissioner’s Reading Corner for the last three years has been the most rewarding experience for me at MnDOT.
I am sorry about his leaving, and will really miss him.
Best to you and your family, Tom!
For Governor Dayton’s press release, click here.
This is Day 1 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge. The task is to give hugs.
Well, I didn’t grow up with hugs, which was actually very common in China at least during my years of growing up. My parents loved me and still do, but they didn’t hug me.
Among the 5 love languages – word of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch - physical touch is not my primary one, so hugging is not a natural part of my daily life. I usually don’t take the initiative to hug others besides my kids, though I am fine with hugs from others.
Today I did intentionally hugged my kids. They are both in their teens and are taller than I.
For an act of kindness, I made food for a friend who I know has been very busy to cook for her family.
I saw a few photos of Governor Mark Dayton meeting trick-or-treaters during the Halloween celebration at the Governor’s mansion. I just loved it. He is such a people person, a servant leader and a great Governor, well connected with common people.
I remember when I was living in St. Paul and my kids were still little (ca. 2000), we went to the Governor’s mansion for trick-or-treating. We walked through a few rooms in the mansion, but never saw then Governor Jesse Ventura. We didn’t even get a glimpse of his ghost.
I saw Governor Dayton a few times at events around the State Capitol. He was very approachable. He carried small note cards and left people autographs or notes when asked.
Governor Dayton is doing a great job at the Capitol. He hired some smart people to lead the state agencies.
If you have ever visited his dog Mingo’s Facebook page, you will know that he also has a great sense of humor.
I signed up for the 14-Day Kindness Challenge, posted by Celes Chua on her Personal Excellence website. Along with over 500 people, and the number keeps growing by the minute, I will intentionally do at least one act of kindness every day for 14 days from Nov. 1 to Nov. 14.
I do believe in being kind and doing acts of kindness for others. A smile, a “Hi,” a thank-you note, a phone call, how insignificant they may look like, can make a big difference in life.
These past two days, I have called and tried to contact a few friends and relatives on the east coast to ckeck on their status before and after the davastating Hurricane Sandy.
“Thank you for thinking of us!” People appreciate it when you show some kindness by doing little things like making a phone call.
I know I am not always kind, and I am not kind to everyone. Sometimes I am not even kind to the people who are most close to me in life. I have a lot to improve.
I hope by doing the 14-Day Kindness Challenge, I will become a kinder person, will be more intentional in doing acts of kindness, will touch someone’s life, will improve my own life.
Please join me in this challenge. The more, the better!
I joined the Capitol Toastmasters a few months ago to sharpen my communication and leadership skills. I found the weekly club meetings helpful. I am learning new skills and new things.
Today I served as the Table Topics Master. I asked the questions:
- Whom do you admire as a leader and why?
- Do you have a boss who is a great leader for you, if so, why?
One club member’s 2 minute speech about her former boss being an inspiring leader stood out as she shared a conversation she had with the boss and three questions he asked.
- What are you doing right now that you really like?
- What are you doing right now that you don’t like and wish someone could take it over?
- What would you like to do that you are not doing currently?
Her former boss created opportunities for employees to do what they liked to do and were good at. For things no one wanted to do, he tried to find different or better ways to do it.
Simple questions, yet very effective in leadership.
It’s all about “playing to your strengths.”
Do you want to be a great boss/supervisor/manager/leader?
Then ask your employees these questions, listen to them and play to their strengths. You will not only have happy and engaged employees, but also be respected and remembered as an inspring and great leader.
Forgiveness is something everyone needs in life, whether asking for forgiveness because we have done someone wrong or extending forgiveness because someone has done us wrong.
Pastor Merritt says forgiveness is choosing to let something go, for the sake of relationship, even though we might be wronged. Nothing is more powerful than forgiveness. And nothing penetrates the human heart more than real, heart-wrenching, life-giving forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not:
- Ignoring or excusing someone’s sin
- Continuing the relationship
Why should we forgive?
- Our forgiveness of others is forgiveness for us
- Our forgiveness of others is freedom for us
- Our forgiveness of others is believing in God who is just
Forgiveness is primarily for ourselves, is to set us free, instead of carrying a baggage around. Pastor Merritt uses a mountain of trash to illustrate the heavy burden we carry if we don’t forgive.
Whom can you forgive or ask for forgiveness today?
Recently I read a tip in the Get Organized Now! Newsletter on how to keep track of your medical information. I agree it is important for everyone to keep medical info organized and handy for quick reference and emergency. For people who have reached the AARP age or beyond , it is even more important. One never knows what can happen the next day, or even the next minute.
Here is the advice and what to do.
Type up a personal medical history sheet and carry it with you at all times. Leave a copy in your purse or car. When you go to a doctor or ER, you can just hand this sheet to the medical professional if needed.
In an emergency situation, the info sheet could save time and life. You (or your spouse, friend, or adult child) can answer any questions necessary to ensure the best and most accurate care possible.
The medical info sheet should include the following:
- Your name at the top (as it is on your ID and insurance card)
- Date of birth
- Blood type
- Emergency contact information – list three or four people, include their name(s), relationship to you, complete address, and phone numbers (work, home, and mobile)
- Medical insurance information - the subscriber (even if it’s you), ID number, insurance (Blue Cross, HealthPartners, etc), group number, phone numbers and any other information on your insurance card.
- Smoker and/or drinker - if yes, how much.
- Medication and seasonal allergies - if you don’t have any, still put this and type none after it. Anything that is life threatening to you should be typed in red.
- Current doctors and specialty - phone numbers, and last date seen.
- Current medications - dosages, and frequency (how often you take them), include any/all over the counter medications and medications you only take as needed. Any life saving medications should be typed in red.
- Surgical history - include the year, surgery, and why. List the latest at the bottom.
- Diagnostic history - Include year and list the latest at the bottom. Anything that is life threatening to you now should be typed in red.
- Family medical history - include father, mother, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. After the diagnosis, put in parenthesis who was diagnosed and their current age. If that was the reason the person died put ‘COD’ (cause of death) after their relationship to you and put the age they passed. For examples:
- High blood pressure (Father, 68 years old)
- Lung Cancer (Mother, COD, deceased at 63 years old)
- Medical procedure update - this is where you put things like PSA testing, Pap’s, Mammograms, Tetanus shots, etc. After the procedure, type the date and results in parenthesis.
Type the ‘last revised’ date at the bottom right corner. As things change, you can just write on the page but this should be updated and a fresh paper printed once a year. You can do this after the annual check up or you birthday (Do the annual check up during your birthday month is a good idea).
This also works great for an elderly parent who may have more than one adult child taking them to appointments (as long as one person agrees to keep the sheet updated and the other agrees to hand write any changes as they occur).
Today I read something my cousin forwarded to me about remembering and forgetting. I liked it so much, I translated it from Chinese into English so I can share it with you. I don’t know who the original author is.
When I was young, I thought remembering things well is a real skill, having a good memory is really genius.
After I passed the middle age, I gradually realized that being able to forget is true happiness.
If I can’t forget the gossip of others, life will be shadowed. If I can’t forget the sad past, personality will gradually be distorted.
In my old age, I began to ask God for the blessing of forgetfulness.
Forget about the past glories, it is humility.
Forget about the past failures, it is courage.
Forget about the past hurt, it is forgiveness.
Forget the sins of the past, it is grace.
Forget the friend’s ill, it is generous.
Forget the attacks of the enemy, it is love.
Forget is much more difficult than remember.
Being able to remember is clever; being able to forget is wise.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month.
I encourage you to write your pastor a thank-you note or do something special for him to express your love and appreciation.
I think pastoring is a 24/7 job, with a lot of work besides preparing and delivering the Sunday sermons. The work they do, caring for the souls of people, is important and has eternal values.
Please join with Faith Radio to bless your pastors during Clergy Appreciation Month.
Below is my letter to the editor of Woodbury Bulletin in response to the news about restoring library hours:
The cover story in Woodbury Bulletin (Oct. 3, 2012) on one-time funding that could restore Sunday and Monday hours at R. H. Stafford Library in 2013 is great news. I am excited to have the Library open 7 days a week again.
On Monday, two days prior to reading the news, I picked up my kids from schools and went to the Library to return and check out books. I was stopped at the Library entrance by the closed door. I forgot that the Library is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Since I moved to Woodbury in 2001, the Library was always open 7 days a week. I could stop by at the Library any day without thinking.
Last year, as part of a cost-saving measure, Sunday and Monday hours were eliminated. But somehow the reality of having a closed Library has never sunk in with me. Several times I found myself standing at the closed door, wondering why the Library was closed and how I could forget it again.
The Library in Woodbury is the center of the community. It’s a place where everyone – young and old, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, republic and democratic, black and white, native and transplanted – is welcomed and treated equally, where access to information and resources is available to anyone whether he can afford it or not.
In times of economic hardship, it’s more important than ever to keep the library open, because people turn to, and depend on their libraries more than ever – for employment and homework resources, reading materials, entertainment, and free Internet access.
Thanks to the Washington County Library Director Pat Conley, board members, County Commissioner Lisa Weik, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and everyone who has supported and advocated for the Library, and for helping restore the library hours. You have done a great service for the community.
“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” — John le Carre
I heard the above quote for the first time during a presentation by Joan Frye Williams about middle managers at the Minnesota Library Association 2012 annual conference last week.
Williams said managers should spend at least one fifth of his time being out there with the employees and customers, go to where the work is, where the real issues and problems are, instead of managing from behind the desk, expecting to know his employees and understand their concerns/problems from behind the desk.
If you are a middle manager – department head, branch manager, project coordinator, team leader, or committee chair – think about how much time you spend at your desk and how much time you spend with your employees and where the work is.
Adjusting your time, perspective and management style might make you a better and more effective manager.
As I shared in a recent post “Share Your Passion,” I love to learn. Learning energizes, motivates and inspires me.
These last three days I was immersed in learning, when I attended the Minnesota Library Association 2012 annual conference at Saint Paul River Centre. I had a great time attending different sessions on topics of interest to me and networking with library professionals from the state.
Thanks to the conference, I was able to connect with people such as Patricia Conley, Washington County Library Director. We knew each other for a long time, but not in person. We were able to sit together and chat during the luncheon. It was nice to get to know people in your local community.
One of the sessions I had today was by Alec Sonsteby from Metropolitan State University on organizational creativity. He shared his research findings and offered some ideas on how leaders can foster creativity in the workplace. It’s a fascinating topic for me and the presentation was great.
Leaders who foster creativity:
- Set clear expectations,
- Offer constructive feedback,
- Avoid micromanaging,
- Hire persistent, flexible people with broad interests, high energy, and self-confidence who demonstrate independence of judgment and willingness to take risks,
- Don’t cut professional development or continuing education funding,
- Partner with your users in joint ventures,
- Assign time for play and experimentation,
- Decide what to build and what to give up.
If you are in a leadership position, ask yourself: “Am I doing these to foster creativity in my organization/office/unit?”
Today Aldi is having the Grand Opening for the new store in Woodbury at the former Borders location at Tamarack Village.
Aldi, short for “Albrecht Discount,” is a German global discount supermarket chain based in Germany. The name may be unfamiliar to many Woodbury residents, but I have known Aldi for 26 years.
Back when I was a student at the University of Heidelberg in Germany from 1986 to 1991, I used to shop at Aldi in my neighborhood. I could walk or bike there.
Comparing to grocers in the US, such as Cub Foods or Rainbow in Woodbury, Aldi is a lot smaller, one reason being that Aldi is located in residential areas in Germany, not in shopping malls where people have to drive to get there.
The reasons that Aldi is able to offer low prices include:
- No free shopping bags, customers have to bring their own bags or pay for them,
- No customer services desk, cashiers offer help if needed,
- No one to answer phone calls,
- No manufacturers’ coupons accepted,
- No big parking lot,
- No employees to collect the shopping carts left by customers. Customers have to bring a quarter in order to get their shopping cart. They get the quarter back after they return their cart to the cart station,
- Use of private brands,
- When business is slow, cashiers help with other duties, thus saving labor cost,
- Saving space by leaving items in the original boxes, not displayed on shelves,
- Limited offering and choices (1,400 regularly stocked items), especially with fresh produce.
By keeping the cost down, Aldi is able to pass the savings along to the customers.
I learned something new about Aldi this summer when I visited Berlin, Germany.
I noticed that the Aldi stores in Berlin use a different logo, it’s in blue and not orange color as I saw in Heidelberg and in the US. Later I found out that there are actually two Aldi groups in Germany, one in the south and one in the north. Each also has companies in different countries around the world.
Here is some background information:
The Aldi family business started in 1913. In 1960, two brothers, Karl and Theo Albrecht split Aldi into two separate groups: Aldi Nord (North – operating as ALDI MARKT) and Aldi Süd (South – operating as Aldi Süd). Both companies are family-linked, while legally and financially independent.
In the United States, Aldi Süd operates the U.S. stores (more than 1,200 stores in 31 states) with the Aldi logo in orange color. Aldi Nord is the parent company of Trader Joe’s.
Aldi’s mission is to offer “high quality at low prices,” to give customers “the highest quality food at the lowest prices possible.”
It seems hard, if not impossible, to have the two go hand in hand.
If you want to save some money on groceries, Aldi is definitely the place to go. But if the highest quality is your concern, I am not so sure Aldi is the best place to go. Aldi’s competitive advantage is on the lowest cost, not the highest quality.
The good news is, Aldi offers both in Woodbury, low price through Aldi and high quality (more organic items) through Trade Joe’s.
Personally I think Aldi’s quality is as good as the other grocers’. In fact, my kids said they liked the frozen pizzas from Aldi better than those from the other stores.
I have to admit I am not in the best position to judge Aldi’s quality, or anyone else.
It’s certainly worth to check out the new Aldi store. I plan to go this weekend.
Don’t forget to bring your quarter and bag.
Recently MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel invited employees to participate in “We are MnDOT: Share Your Passion,” a forum for employees to share their interests with each other, by submitting a 125-word description and a photo of their passion. The profiles are then posted on the walls of each floor where employees work.
I thought it was a wonderful idea. Sharing your passion will help employees learn a little bit more about each other, get better connected and more engaged with each other, therefore help build stronger community and relationships within the department.
This is what I came up with for my passion profile. I wrote more, but had to cut down to 125 words:
Reading, learning, writing and blogging are my #1 passion. I write about whatever comes to my mind, hence my Woodbury Bulletin Column “On My Mind” which is an Areavoices blog now.
My #2 passion is healthy and green living. I love gardening and walking.
As a citizen of the world (grew up in China, went to graduate school in Germany, and living in US since 1991), I travel a lot. In summer 2012, I visited New York, Princeton, Philadelphia, Chicago; Germany, Hungary, Italy, France and UK.
I love taking pictures, won Woodbury Photo Contest twice.
I love volunteering and getting involved in community, graduated from the 1st class of Woodbury Citizens Academy, and was a founding member of Minnesota Jinglun Chinese School.
Never stop learning!
What is your passion? Share it with others!
I asked my daughter today: “who are the popular kids in your school/grade?”
Her response, “Kids wearing expensive clothes,” was not something I expected to hear.
I find it hard to believe that parents will pay almost $200 to buy their kids a pair of boots that they will outgrow soon, that wearing expensive clothes can make people more popular.
The reality is disturbing to me.
I don’t buy myself or my kids brand name clothes and shoes. It’s not a question of whether I can afford it or not. It’s a conscious decision based on my value system.
Why pay a lot to buy the trendiest clothes that have no long-term value in my opinion?
What’s best for our kids? I thought having the best education is more important than having the trendiest clothes. Having their mind set on the eternal things is more important than the external, temporary things.
I had to tell my daughter: “It’s not what you wear that makes you popular. It’s who you are, what’s inside rather than what’s outside, your character, your personality, your skills, etc. The kids who are popular today because they wear expensive clothes won’t be popular when they grow up, if that’s their only reason to be popular.”
I knew my daughter didn’t like what I said, she thinks I lecture too much, but I knew she would agree with me when she grows up.
The Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie, 中秋节) is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. Because of its association with moocakes and lighted lanterns, this festival is also called the Mooncake or Lantern Festival.
This year, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 30.
Like the Chinese New Year, it is a time for family gatherings. Family members get together to enjoy the bright full moon and eat mooncakes.
The 2012 Mid-Autumn Day happens to be connected with the National Day holiday (October 1 – 7), so people in China enjoy an eight-day holiday from September 30 to October 7.
In August, the Chinese government issued a toll-free road policy, allowing passenger cars with seven seats or less to travel for free on toll roads during four major holidays – the Spring Festival, Qingming Festival, Labor Day and National Day.
This eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday is the first toll-free holiday. The toll-free policy took effect at midnight, Saturday. For the first time in decades, Chinese drivers can use the country’s highways toll-free during the eight-day holiday,
The long holiday with pleasant autumn weather is already a popular time for travel. With the new toll-free policy, the traffic on highways has become a nightmare.
China has the unique travel rush twice every year for the Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese Lunar New Year during which Chinese travel home from their work places to spend time with their families.
Traffic jam in the US is nothing compared to what’s happening in China.
Do you compare yourself with others who seem better, brighter, skinnier, or richer than you? Do you compare your kids with other kids who seem more intelligent, talented, prettier or obedient?
We all do, no question about it. I know I do.
I think of myself as a content person. I don’t compare myself with people who are better or richer than I am. I don’t care what other people have, nicer houses or cars. I am happy with what I have.
But there is at least one area in my life where I often make comparisons which robs me of contentment.
As a parent, I often compare my kids with other kids.
My son and daughter are both great kids. They are smart, hard working, healthy, and pretty/handsome. They do very well in school and also very well in other activities. I am very proud of them, and I brag about them a lot on the blog.
Yet, you can often catch me saying things like:
“Why don’t you __ like __?”
“Why can’t you be like __?” (just fill the blank)
My daughter told me more than once in response to one of my comparison statements: “Because I am not __. And you are not her mother.”
That’ true. And she is right. I knew it, but somehow I can’t help make the comparison, hoping by comparing her with someone who is better than her in the particular area, I would be able to motivate her to do better.
It doesn’t work that way. I should have known it.
The truth is comparison does not motivate, comparison kills contentment.
Pastor Merritt says when we make comparison, we become envious and lose our contentment. Simply put, envy is when we resent God’s goodness in other people’s lives and ignore God’s goodness in our own. He offers the following 4 steps to take:
- Find your true value in Christ.
- Embrace who God made you to be.
- Decide what’s IT (the most important thing in life) for you.
- Be grateful for all that you have.
I realize I still have a lot to learn to be fully content.
Even though English is not my native language, but after living here in the US for 22 years (the exact same amount of years as I lived in China), English feels more like a native language to me, more so than Chinese. Talking with my kids in English is a lot more easy and faster. Writing in English is also more natural and fluent for me.
To communicate with my relatives in China, I usually make phone calls. I have a phone plan with a monthly flat fee of $30 that allows me to make free calls within the US and to over 20 countries, including Canada, China, Germany, etc.
If I have to send emails in Chinese to relatives who don’t know English, I have to type in Pinyin and select the correct Chinese characters word by word. It’s a slow and time consuming process for me, since I don’t do it often enough to be very proficient. As the result, I don’t like doing it.
To make it easy for me, I started using Google Translate if I need to write an email in Chinese. I simply write my message in English in the left side box, and click the Translate button to have Google translate it into Simplified Chinese in the right side box. Then I copy the result into my email and click send. It’s much faster than writing in Chinese myself.
Overall, Google Translate does a good job conveying the message. However, it translates literally without taking into account the situation or cultural context. It might use words that I wouldn’t use myself.
For example, the English word “You”can be translated into Chinese in two different yet similar characters, one is for more casual use, the other one with an additional radical of heart is for more formal use when addressing someone who is elderly or in higher position.
Recently I sent my cousin’s wife a short message using Google Translate. It translated my English “You” into the Chinese character used in the more formal circumstance.
When I later called and talked to my cousin’s wife, she laughed and wondered why I had become so polite with her. I had to admit that I used Google Translate.
Google Translate is not perfect, but it’s good and I like it. It saves me time.
If you have to deal with a language you don’t know at all, Google Translate can be a godsend.
It was past midnight, and I was writing a thank-you note to a friend who on Sunday took time from his busy schedule and helped me fix a sprinkler head that was broken.
Pastor Strand talked about how we can encourage one another:
Remember that encouragement costs your nothing, but has a huge payback.
If you think something good, say it. It will mean a lot to the person on the receiving end.
Encouragement re-energizes others.
He challenged listeners to say something encouraging to at least three people this week.
I can’t agree more with what Pastor Strand said. Encouragement makes a huge difference in life, both to the receiver and the giver.
What’s why I couldn’t end my day without expressing my gratitude and encouragement to my friend.
Whom can you thank and encourage today?
For a project, I wanted to create a photo collage, something I have never done before.
The first one I tried, Kizoa, required registration, which was a turnoff for me. I have enough accounts, usernames and passwords to remember, I didn’t want to create another one if not absolutely necessary.
I asked my daughter who had recently created a photo collage, which program she used and whether registration was required. She showed me piZap. That’s the one I used. I thought if my 12 year-old daughter could do it on her own, I probably could too.
piZap is really simple and easy to use. No registration and download required. Creating a collage takes only a few simple steps:
- Select Make a Collage.
- Choose a design template (depending on how many photos you want to use, whether the photos are vertical and horizontal, and what appeals to you) and click on it.
- Click Add Photo and then Upload Photo from your computer. Repeat the process for each box. You can move a photo around from one box to another.
- Click Save Image on the upper right corner.
- Download the collage to your computer. You can also save it to your Facebook.
A word of caution. Once you have downloaded the collage to your computer, you can’t go back and edit it on piZap. You have to start from scratch again. So try to save all the photos you use in one folder in case you want to go back and recreate the collage with some changes. Then you don’t have to hunt for the photos from different folders.
The most time consuming part for me was selecting photos. I had to redo it twice because I wanted to change some photos after I downloaded it.
Overall, it was very simple and fun.
[This is part 2 about my interview with Tina Smith. For part 1, click here]
First, a little bit of background information about Tina Smith:
Smith graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in political science in 1980. After she received her MBA from Dartmouth College in 1984, she moved to Minnesota to start her first job with General Mills. Then she worked at Marketing Insights, MacWilliams Cosgrove Smith Robinson, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. From 2006 to 2010, Smith served as Chief of Staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. She became Governor Mark Dayton’s Chief of Staff in 2011.
Tang: After Mark Dayton was elected Minnesota Governor, you were his first staff hired and announced on Dec. 10, 2010. You were highly praised by Governor Dayton as a “widely known and respected leader.”
Prior to that position, you worked in private, non-profit and public sectors and held high positions. You founded a marketing and communications firm. You also worked on many political campaigns at the state and federal levels, including senator, governor or presidential campaigns for Ted Mondale, Walter Mondale, Barack Obama, etc.
You have very diverse background and experience in business, politics, nonprofit, and government. I am interested in how you got actively involved in politics and various political campaigns, how you became a leader, what is your personal leadership journey like.
Smith: I majored in political science and have an MBA. I had an interest in politics and business. My parents were very engaged in the local community and actively involved in politics which had an influence on me. After I graduated from Dartmouth College in 1984, I moved to Minnesota to start my first job with General Mills. We bought our first house in St. Louis Park.
I love politics. I started volunteering for Ted Mondale’s state senator race (Ted is the elder son of the former senator, ambassador and Vice President Walter Mondale) by organizing apartment buildings. I also helped with Ted Mondale’s 1998 governor campaign. That’s how I got started in politics.
Tang: Who has inspired you to become a leader? Whom do you admire as a leader, and why?
Smith: Many people have inspired me. In addition to Governor Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Steven Bosacker is a great leader. Steven was Gov. Jesse Ventura’s chief of staff. He occupied this same office space where I am sitting now. He was the Minneapolis City Coordinator from 2006 to 2012. (In February 2012, Steven quit his high-profile, high paying job to spend a year traveling the world.)
Mary Brainerd, HealthPartner President and CEO, is another great leader.
Tang: Governor Dayton has a high number of female leaders on his staff, his inner circle. So you have a lot of exposure and experience working with leaders of both genders in your life. What would you say about the difference between male and female leaders? Do they have different leadership styles and lead differently?
Smith: I have seen both effective and ineffective leadership styles across the borders, regardless of genders. Speaking of my own leadership style, I am more collaborative and relationship oriented. I am not sure if this is gender related. I used to be a focus group moderator, so I learned to listen and pay close attention to what people have to say. I focus on people’s strength. I try to create a culture where they have autonomy to develop and grow to their full potential based on their strength.
Tang: As the chief of staff, you are the gatekeeper in the governor’s office. What has been the most rewarding and challenging part of your job?
Smith: My role as the Chief of Staff is to lead the work to advance the Governor’s agenda, do what he wants to do. I see more rewards than challenges. My job is very rewarding. I feel such an honor and privilege to work with the Governor, to have opportunities to meet and talk with many people. One of the challenges is to figure out how to pull resources and skills together to get things done, to help people understand that we can’t do things the same way as we used to and achieve desired results.
Tang: What do you see as your greatest accomplishments as a leader?
Smith: I don’t see anything as my own accomplishment. It’s all team accomplishment. I think putting together the cabinet members, the team of commissioners to lead various agencies is one of our great accomplishments. Another one was reaching an agreement for funding and building the new Vikings Stadium.
Tang: What are the most critical attributes to successful leadership?
Smith: Honesty, hard work, good listening skills, good judgment, and decisiveness.
Tang: What are some of the most important lessons you have learned as a leader?
Smith: Tell truth even when it’s uncomfortable. Admit mistakes. Not try to be perfect. Find smart people and do your best to keep them fulfilled and stay.
Tang: What types of things have made the greatest differences in your ongoing development as a leader?
Smith: Three things come to my mind – work with people with high integrity; learn new things constantly; and have a good laugh.
Tang: What was the hardest part of being a leader?
Smith: Making decisions that are very hard to make, sometimes not having all the information needed; telling things people don’t want to hear.
Tang: What challenges do you see that leaders face in government?
Smith: The increasingly polarized political climate. People fight against each other instead of working together to reach common ground, solve problems and get things done.
Tang: If I ask you for names of leaders to interview, whom would you recommend and why?
Smith: Sarah Stoesz – Sarah has been the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota since 2001. She is a strong leader. She has successfully led the organization in a hostile environment.
Lucinda Jesson – Lucinda is the Minnesota Dept. of Human Services Commissioner. She leads the state’s largest agency with an annual budget of $11 billion and more than 6,000 employees throughout the state. DHS is one of the most complex and expensive state agencies.
For other leadership interviews, click here.
Tina Flint Smith, Governor Dayton’s Chief of Staff, graciously agreed to an interview with me. After several schedule changes, we finally met this afternoon in her office at the State Capitol. I was very thankful for the opportunity to meet and talk with her.
How this interview came about is worth mentioning.
One year ago in September 2011, I started the MMB’s Emerging Leaders Institute program. As part of the assignments, I had to interview at least one respected leader every month and then share the interview experience and lessons learned with the class.
As I was thinking about interview candidates, Governor Dayton’s name came to my mind.
Obviously as the governor of the State of Minnesota, he is a respected leader. As a state employee and a US citizen, I personally support him as the governor.
And I remembered I once saw him on TV during a press release or interview when he mentioned that he had been to China several times. This stuck with me. As an immigrant from China, I was curious about his experience from his China trips.
These two reasons were the motivation behind my interview request.
So I contacted the Governor’s office and submitted my interview request. I also followed-up, but without positive results. A couple of times, it looked promising, yet I heard nothing back.
I was disappointed, but not surprised. Considering how busy the Governor is and how many things/people he has to deal with, I have total understanding.
Actually I am very grateful to live in this country and state, to be able to walk into the State Capitol any day, to visit the Governor’s reception room any time when the office is open. I appreciate the freedom we have in this country, the openness and trust the government shows to the public – I don’t take them for granted.
When I told someone who had worked in the state legislature about my interest in interviewing Governor Dayton, his recommendation was: “If the Governor is busy, you may consider interviewing his Chief of Staff- Tina Smith. She is fantastic.”
Last month I ran into Smith at the Capitol Farmers Market during the Minnesota Grown Challenge event I happened to find myself in without advance knowledge. When I saw her, I thought to myself: “Why not talk to Tina and ask her directly and see what happens?”
My philosophy is that it doesn’t hurt to ask, and the worst that can happen is to get a no response.
So I approached Smith as the event ended and mentioned my interview request. She said she would follow up.
True to her word, she responded and had the meeting set up. The meeting was scheduled and rescheduled four times total. It was a testimony to how busy she was. When we finally met today, I was very thankful for her taking the time out of her busy schedule to meet with me.
The lessons of the background story? - It doesn’t hurt to ask, and persistence leads to success.
The interview with Smith is to be followed.
I read the following on Facebook:
My promise to my children:
I am your Parent 1st – your Friend 2nd. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare & hunt you down like a bloodhound when needed because I LOVE YOU ! When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible adult. You will NEVER find someone who loves, cares, & worries about you more than I do! If you don’t hate me once in your life – I am not doing my job properly. Re-post if you are a parent & agree…♥
I did re-post it on my Facebook because I like it, even though I don’t agree with the language used here. The language used – stalk, flip out, insane, nightmare, bloodhound - is a little too strong/negative/scary/dramatic.
Parenting is not a popularity contest. I don’t do things so my children will like me like a friend.
I am sure I have been after my kids and over their shoulders more than they want.
I am sure I have lectured my kids more than they want to hear.
I am sure I have driven my kids nuts by asking too many questions and nagging too much.
I am sure my kids don’t like me, or even hate me, because I don’t give in to their every “need” and “want” to be a cool parent.
It’s possible I have caused my kids some kind of nightmares/anxiety because I expect a lot from them, more than they want to do.
But I am just doing my job as a parent. It’s OK if they don’t understand now.
Someday, they will.
After 11 years of gardening, I came to the conclusion that the secret to a green thumb can be summarized in three simple words – love, care and soil.
I love gardening and enjoying working in my vegetable garden. Gardening is one of my hobbies and passion. I don’t mind weeding, digging in the dirt, and get my hands dirty and rough.
I take good care of my vegetable garden. I check on it, water it almost every day.
It brings me great joy and satisfaction to see my vegetables grow and to be able to eat fresh vegetables from my own garden every day. This summer, for just 40 days from the last week of July to the end of August, I harvested about 230 cucumbers from my garden. It is a good year for me.
Without love and care, it’s impossible to have a nice garden, healthy plants and a green thumb.
I know people who absolutely have no interest in gardening. They won’t even go out to their own backyard to pick vegetables from garden. They would rather go to a store and buy what they want. Surely you cannot expect a green thumb from people who have no interest and passion for gardening or plants and don’t care about them.
People told me that I have a green thumb because I like plants (I have quite a few in my office and house). But often times I don’t feel like so, especially when it comes to my houseplants. They don’t look quite as healthy as those in the stores.
This summer I visited a relative in Germany. She has similar house plants as what I have, such as spider plants, but every single plant in her house looked so much more healthy than those in my house. I was surprised by the difference. So I asked her what she did. She told me that she re-pots her plants every year in spring. Even if she doesn’t have to change the size of the pot, she still removes the old soil, trims the roots, and replace the old soil with new soil. This is her secret to having a healthy houseplant and a green thumb.
My houseplants have soil that feels like a rock, because I haven’t changed the soil for a a few years. No wonder they don’t grow as well and healthy as they could be if I had done the same thing as my relative does.
So I plan to re-pot every houseplant in my house that needs a face-lift next spring.
With love, care and good soil, I will have a green thumb.
Ever since the Twin Cities megachurch Eagle Brook Church opened its 5th campus in Woodbury one year ago in Sept. 2011, I wanted to pay a visit to its Woodbury Campus at East Ridge High School. I finally did it today with a friend.
The Church has not only 5 campuses, but also 4 services every weekend (Saturdays at 4:05 p.m. and 6:05 p.m., and Sundays at 9:05 a.m. and 11:05 a.m.). The 11 am service I attended on Sunday in the East Ridge High School auditorium (seating for more than 900) was pretty much packed.
This happened to be the 2012 fall kickoff weekend. The music, video and message were great. I especially liked the message by Senior Pastor Bob Merritt. He was starting a new series titled ”One Another.” The first message was on “Love One Another.”
What does loving one another really mean? Pastor Bob Merritt shared three ideas:
- Be deeply devoted to a few people in your life – Do you have hundreds of Facebook friends, but still feel lonely? You can only have close relationships with a few people, not hundreds. Devote more time to your families and a few friends who will be on your home team.
- Be truthful with each other – True friends love you and are not afraid of telling truth that might hurt your feelings but is good for your growth.
- Overlook each other’s faults – Is there enough goodies in this person to overlook his faults?
Previous messages are available online.
Are there things that some people in your workplace do that irritate you? Are there things you do that might irritate your coworkers?
The answer is most likely yes.
We all do things that feel natural and reasonable to ourselves, but they might be a nuisance to others. A less organized person doesn’t mind a messy desk or office, but for a very organized person sitting next to him, a messy work environment can be annoying or even unbearable.
For me, things people do that feel like nuisances to me are.
- Use microwave and leave a mess without cleaning up for the next person.
- Leave food in the fridge and forget about it which results in mold and bad smell.
- Throw papers and other recyclable items in the trash, with a recycle bin sitting right next to it.
- People take the last piece/bite of a home-made or store bought treat that someone brought to the office, and leave the empty/dirty container sitting there, without bothering to either wash it or throw it in the trash.
A small nuisance in the workplace can grow into a big issue if left unattended.
The less nuisances and incivilities we experience in the workplace, the happier we feel about our work environment and coworkers. How can we reduce nuisances and incivilities in the workplace?
I think the first step is awareness. If we make each others aware of what bugs people, we can behave more courteously and be more careful in what we do that might have a negative effect on people around us.
Sharing our true feelings and thoughts require a culture of openness and trust in the workplace. So building a culture of openness and trust is of utmost importance for every organization and office.
In order to have a positive and productive office environment, we need to first create a safe environment where people feel safe to share, to express their honest opinions, where people feel heard, valued and appreciated.
We tend to have a higher tolerance for people whom we like/get along well than people we don’t like /get along well. So cultivating stronger relationship can reduce nuisances we feel in the workplace.
What nuisances do you experience in your workplace? What do you do to improve the office environment? I would love to hear from you. Please share in the comment box.
Recently I had a couple of conversations with friends on separate occasions when we talked about incivility in people who do not acknowledge gifts.
One friend said she once sent her elementary age daughter to school with a gift card for her teacher during the holiday. She never received a thank-you note. She always wondered whether the teacher actually received the gift card. She said as a teacher herself, she always acknowledged gifts from her students.
Another friend gave money and flower at a funeral service, but never received any acknowledgement.
I have had similar experiences of my own.
In the last couple of years, I can remember four instances when I gave $100 or more in cash or check to individuals (not my families or relatives, but people I know somewhat or strangers I read about in the papers) for various reasons, mostly in tragic circumstances, but I never received a personal acknowledgement or thank-you from the receivers.
Like my friend, I always wonder why people don’t acknowledge gifts. And sometime I wonder about whether my gifts were received which I shouldn’t. Checks were cashed, cash gifts were given in person directly or indirectly.
If I were Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, I wouldn’t care if my little donation was acknowledged or not. It’s like pennies for them. But for me earning a librarian’s salary, which is low on the overall pay scale in comparison to other sectors, I have to make conscious choices and some personal sacrifices.
I live below my means. I am stingy with my own kids and say way more “no” to their needs and wants than I probably should. In fact, I am known among my families, friends and coworkers for being very frugal and cheap, and I get criticized often.
I am frugal and cheap, because I am content with what I have in life. I do not need more, better and bigger things to make me happy. I am happy with what little or less I already have. I tell people, if I need a bag, it doesn’t matter to me whether I have one that costs $1, $10, $100 or $1000. A bag is a bag. A cheap one doesn’t make me feel worth less and a super expensive one doesn’t make me feel worth more. Brand names don’t mean anything to me.
When I make a choice to live frugally and to give to others, I do not expect anything in return, but I do think it’s human decency and common courtesy to acknowledge gifts, in verbal or written form, just so givers feel acknowledged and appreciated.
In my personal experience, the more people acknowledge and appreciate my giving or help, the more I want to give and help. So acknowledging giving is not only decency and courtesy, it also encourages and inspires more giving. Otherwise people feel unappreciated. This kills their generous and giving spirit.
I read about the book 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life . It’s on my to-read list and highly recommended.
If more people read the book, and understand how a simple thank-you can change our life, we would have a better world.
A simple thank you goes a long way.
Back in 2009, I read Dr. P. M. Forni’s book “Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct.” The book was Washington County Library’s first book selection for its “One County, One Book” program.
In the book, Forni identifies 25 rules that are essential in living a civilized life, in connecting effectively and happily with others.
In today’s world, where thoughtful behavior and common decency are in short supply, we need a periodical reminder on how to be civil and become a civilized person.
- Pay attention
- Acknowledge others
- Think the best
- Be inclusive
- Speak kindly
- Don’t speak ill,
- Accept and give praise,
- Respect even a subtle “no”
- Respect others’ opinions
- Mind your body
- Bbe agreeable
- Keep it down (and rediscover silence)
- Respect other people’s time
- Respect other people’s space
- Apologize earnestly
- Assert yourself
- Avoid personal questions
- Care for your guests
- Be a considerate guest
- Think twice before asking for favors
- Refrain from idle complaints
- Accept and give constructive criticism
- Respect the environment and be gentle to animals
- Don’t shift responsibility and blame
This is a question someone posted in an online newsletter I read, and I felt like responding after reading it. So here is the Q&A:
Q: “Two years ago, my husband and I decided that we needed an upright freezer. We figured that with a family of four, we could buy in bulk and save. I use a price book, and I’m good with sales. It seemed like a good idea, but now I’m beginning to wonder if it really is a money-saver. Lately it’s hard to find really good deals on meat, or it seems like all I have is one type of meat like all chicken or all beef. Plus, occasionally a piece of meat isn’t packed right and gets freezer burned. Does anyone have advice on how to use a freezer effectively?”
A: I have been using a chest freezer for about 10 years. I found it very useful. Since I am not a big meat eater, I don’t buy a lot of meat. But I use the freezer for a lot of other things in addition to freezing meat.
I make extra food when I have time and freeze some for busy days when I have no time to cook.
When I have leftovers that I don’t want to use right away, or food close to expiration date, such as crackers, bread, flour, milk, I put them in the freezer so they don’t get spoiled.
I freeze fruit for making smoothie. When strawberries, blueberries or bananas are on sale, I buy more than I need and freeze them for future use. My daughter doesn’t like fruit except bananas, but she loves smoothie. I made smoothie for her so she would eat more than just bananas. Now my kids love the home-made smoothie so much, they make it every day on their own.
In my freezer there is also fast/convenient food that my kids like and can make on their own if they are hungry and I am not around, such as frozen pizza and chicken nuggets.
I also freeze certain vegetables from my garden or bought at the farmer’s market in summer or fall when there is abundance and the price is good.
Freezer is not just useful for food, it can also be useful for other stuff.
For example, you can freeze your pantyhose to extend its life. Wet your pantyhose and squeeze out most of the excess water before placing them in a freezer bag. Freeze them for at least 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove the pantyhose from the freezer and let it thaw naturally. Freezing actually strengthens the fibers, allowing the material to last longer.
My freezer is usually full. I might run out of space, I don’t run out of ideas or items for using the freezer.
If you have an iPad or an eBook reader such as Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Sony Reader, you might be interested in finding free electronic books, or eBooks to read.
Yes, there are plenty of places where you can download free eBooks. You can save money of buying eBooks if you don’t have to read the latest bestsellers.
A good place to start is the local public library. Washington County Library has an eBook collection.
If you are a newbie, take a free eBook classe offered by the Washington County Library. These classes feature demonstrations of the free eBook downloads available through Washington County Library. Attendees will also be able to physically review some of the eReaders currently on the market.
For the class schedule in R. H. Stafford Branch Library, visit the library’s website.
In addition to the local public library, there are other resources on the Internet where you can download free eBooks. Here are a few popular ones.
Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free eBooks. Founded in 1971 by Michael Hart, the Purpose of Project Gutenberg is to encourage the creation and distribution of electronic books. Project Gutenberg is a global coordinated volunteer effort to digitize and distribute the great works of history.
Project Gutenberg offers over 40,000 free eBooks. Among them are free epub books and free kindle books. You can download them or read them online. No fee or registration is required.
To see the Top 100 lists, visit this website.
Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Portal provides free public access to eBooks by Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing. Self-Publishing’s purpose is to create a cloud service for contemporary writers to share their works with readers. This Portal allows authors to share their works with readers as well as allows readers to provide comments, reviews and feedback to the authors.
There is no charge for using this service. Registration is not required for reading or downloading the publications or comments. However, registration is required to upload a book or post a comment.
Project Gutenberg eBooks are downloadable in PDF file format and are compatible with the iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most other reader devices.
Some other countries also have their own Project Gutenberg. They are considered sister projects.
The Internet Archive digitizes text, movies, music, software, and websites. Its text collection includes more than three million items in both the public domain or written under Creative Commons license.
The Internet Archive Text Archive contains a wide range of fiction, popular books, children’s books, historical texts and academic books.
The Online Books Page lists over 1 million free books on the Web.
ManyBooks.net provides free eBooks in all genres, including mMany Project Gutenberg titles. Features include reader recommendations and search by genre. Easily accessible for mobile devices. There are more than 29,000 eBooks available for iPad, Kindle, Nook, and most other eReaders.
If you have traveled to other countries, you have probably noticed that there are not as many obese people in other countries as in the U.S.
The answer is simple. Just ask this simple question: Which country eats the most junk food? Which country consumes the most soft drinks?
Americans consume more junk food than anyone else. Fast food restaurants are everywhere, convenient and inexpensive. It’s cheaper to eat junk food than healthy food.
Americans drink more soda than anyone else. If you look at this soft drink consumption by country stats, you will see that the US has a big lead over the next country.
Recently I took my kids and a few of their friends to a local movie theater. I have never been to the movie theater even though I have lived in town for 11 years. When kids walked in, they went straight to the food counter to buy drinks and snacks. I saw kids and adults with trays of junk food that included a soft drink, a bucket of popcorn and a bar of candy. No wonder there were quite a few obese kids and adults in the theater.
We have such an abundant life in this country that we don’t have to worry so much about survival. We want more fun, more pleasure and more entertainment, which brings more junk food. Don’t we all eat more junk food when we have parties and celebrations, go on vacation or go to entertainment places such as movie theaters or Minnesota State Fair?
My favorite booth at this year’s Minnesota State Fair was by YMCA in the health building. They displayed different soft drinks and let you guess how many sugar cube were in a can or bottle. There are 19 sugar cubes in a small bottle of Pepsi. It was a very simple and visual teaching/learning tool. I was glad I was able to show that to my kids.
If you want to find out how much sugar is in your favorite soda, check out this Sugar Stacks website .
People die from different causes and diseases, such as diabetes and heart attack. I often wonder how many people actually die from junk food which might be the root cause for various diseases.
I even thought that junk food could be considered as a kind of WMD (weapon of mass destruction), because it brings significant harm to a large number of humans. The only difference is the harm is not forced on us by an enemy, but we willingly and happily bring the harm to ourselves, while our friendly enemy is laughing on the way to the bank.
It saddens me to hear that some people only drink sodas and no water. I heard about kids in China who drink sodas and no water because they consider soda superior and drinking soda more prestigious than drinking water.
I think we are slowly killing ourselves with junk food, if consumed carelessly.
Today I volunteered with my kids at the Woodbury Days Info booth.
Every year since I moved to Woodbury in 2001, I go to Woodbury Days, except maybe a couple of times when I was out of town for vacation. For me, Woodbury Days is not only closed to home, but also more personal and manageable than the Minnesota State Fair. I would rather miss Minnesota State Fair than Woodbury Days.
2006 was a year of change for me. My volunteer work for Woodbury Days also started in 2006.
My kids always went along to Woodbury Days since they were 3 and 1 years old. As they got older, they also got involved in volunteering with me.
The other day my kids laughed at me for my new hair cut: “Hilarious! you look like a kid.” Now at age 14 and 12, both are taller than I. Now I do have to look up to them. Does that make me a kid? I would rather be a kid than an old woman
It wasn’t long ago that they were kids. How time has changed!
Today I was excited to find out that my kids had another good winning year at the State Fair. I can’t wait to share the good news and some pictures of their winning works.
I am most proud of my daughter Amy for winning the 1st place again for her poem collection - ”There once was a 12 year-old girl : selected poems – 100 Limericks.”
Every year since 2009, Amy submits a collection of 100 poems or more to the Minnesota State Fair. Her poems won the 1st place in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
In 2011 she won the 2nd place. We were disappointed that she didn’t get the 1st place. Later when we got the item back from the State Fair, we figured out a possible reason. Some pages in the collection were bound upside down. It was a last minute job and we didn’t review it to catch the problem. If we hadn’t make the mistake, she might have won the first place also.
Amy’s winning works at this year’s State Fair are:
- 1st for poem collection
- 2nd for acrylic painting (lion)
- 2nd for colored pencil drawing (bird)
- 3rd for pencil drawing (self-portrait)
- 4th for pastel drawing (puma)
My son Andy received two awards:
- 4th for pencil drawing (bear)
- 4th for research papers (The Manhattan Project)
The Minnesota State Fair starts this Thursday and the Woodbury Days this Friday. I go to both events every year, in the last few years also as a volunteer.
On Friday morning I will be volunteer at MnDOT booth in the State Fair Education Building. On Saturday morning, I will be at the Woodbury Days’ Info booth.
I once wrote a post titled Why volunteering?
I like to get involved in community events to be informed and engaged. However, during the current season of my life, I don’t have a lot of free time, so my volunteer activities are limited. But volunteering once a year for the State Fair or Woodbury Days is manageable.
I bring my two kids with me. In the last few years, they have volunteered along with me for Woodbury Days or other organizations. I want to install in them this spirit of voluntarism. As I said in my previous post Voluntarism: “The unmatchable spirit of voluntarism found in this country is part of what makes United States one of the greatest countries, if not the greatest country on earth now.”
A community is as good as its people. The more people get involved and engaged, the better the community becomes.
New superintendent’s words, vision appreciated
I have known about Craigslist for years, but had not used it to sell anything until today.
Today I posted my very first ad. It didn’t take much time to post the ad and add the picture. Actually it was much easier than I expected. No wonder Graigslist is so popular.
A friend recently moved out of the state. She left a desk behind. She put it out in her front yard with a Free sign, but no one has taken it. So she wanted me to post an ad on Craigslist and give it away. That’s what I did.
Using Graigslist was really simple, here is the process which takes only a few minutes.
- Go to the Graigslist home page
- Select a location (in my case, I selected Minnesota and then Minneapolis/St. Paul)
- Select a category (such as for sale, music instrument, or free)
- Click on the Post button on the upper right corner
- Enter your email and add your content note about the item
- Add a picture or pictures. This is optional
- Check your email inbox to find the email with a link to confirm your ad. You can publish your ad, edit it, or delete it.
I was so encouraged by the simple process, I posted my 2nd ad right away to sell my daughter’s 1/2 size violin.
If you want to sell or give away your stuff, Graigslist is a good way to go. I have two friends who moved recently. Both had success using Graigslist.
Update: I posted the ad for the desk at 11 pm. It was gone early next morning when I checked the front yard after receiving an email inquiry. That was fast. I had to remove the ad.
It has been a month since my last posting. For the last two months, I have not blogged much. I was on vacation and on the move a lot. My family and I made two big trips.
In June we went to Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York for 10 days. In July, we traveled to Europe for three weeks. During the trip, we went to Sioux Falls (South Dakota), Berlin and Potsdam (Germany), Budapest (Hungary), Rome and Venice (Italy), Paris (France), London, and Chicago. We visited relatives in Budapest and Berlin.
After the two trips, my kids still have more than one month to go before school starts. A summer break of three months is way too long for kids to be away from school. I still have tons of photos to process and upload to my Facebook. I will get to them.
Starting with this post, my blog also has a new look, not by my choice.
I actually liked the way my blog looked before, mainly because I customized the header myself. I used the same theme since the beginning, but it is no longer available. So I had to choose a new theme. Along comes the new look.
I decided to use this current one, a clean simple white theme. The simple and minimalistic look speaks well to how I view life should be.
As life has got back to normal, hope I will have more frequent posts.
I like to air dry my clothes, especially in summer when it’s sunny and I can put a cloth line on my deck and let the clothes dry naturally.
Using clothesline is the most environmentally friendly way to do laundry. It not only saves energy, it is also good for the clothes, because it lasts much longer than when machine dried. The clothes smells fresh. A sun bath for the clothes is good for the health.
Some people don’t like using clothesline because the stiffness of air-dried clothes. There are some things you can do to prevent the stiffness.
If stiffness is your concern and excuse for not using clothesline, check out this article Eliminating Line Dried Clothing Stiffness.
If you want to learn from the best professors at the best universities, try The Great Courses.
The Great Courses produces college-level courses taught by the most engaging professors from universities like Oxford, Stanford, Princeton, and Georgetown. I don’t know how I got on their mailing list, but I regularly receive the catalog from The Great Courses. They offer more than 390 courses in science, literature, history, philosophy, business, religion, mathematics, fine arts, music, and better living. It’s interesting to look through the catalog and read about the courses offered.
However, I haven’t tried anything until recently.
I was in the local public library and happened to notice a title from The Great Courses that interested me: The Art of Public Speaking, with two DVDs and a course guidebook.
The Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History, by Prof. John R. Hale from the University of Louisville, is a 12-lecture course. Each 30 minute lecture shares a technique and strategy used by history’s greatest public speakers. You will learn the essential skill of what makes history’s enduring speeches so unforgettable.
Prof. Hale touches the three key components of successful public speaking:
- How to prepare for public speaking: overcome stage fright, control your voice and body, use humor, and personalize your delivery.
- How to craft a great speech: use stories, examples, logic, and impressive visual images.
- How to handle your audience: focus on your audience, persuade them to agree with you, invite them to share your vision, and inspire them to change.
In essence, to be a great public speaker, you should
- Speak from personal knowledge: Use personal experiences to allow your audience to better connect with you. In polite conversation, talking about yourself is frowned upon; in public speaking, it’s essential.
- Organize your facts into a story: When drafting a speech, find the underlying stories in your topic and organize your information around these stories. You’ll find it easier to remember your speech, and your audience will engage more with your message.
- Weave familiar references into your speech: Using familiar quotations when addressing your audience can establish a common ground. They may not be your words but, when used sparingly, they can infuse your speech with added power.
The 12 lectures are:
1. Overcome Obstacles—Demosthenes of Athens
Practice, hard work, memorization, the acceptance of failures, and other skills are essential to overcoming obstacles from stage fright to speech impediments.
2. Practice Your Delivery—Patrick Henry
Key to effective speaking is using your voice and body to reinforce your meaning. The power of a speech lies not so much in words as in vocal and physical elements like tone, pitch, facial expression, and posture.
3. Be Yourself—Elizabeth I to Her Army
In order to make the deepest possible connection with your audience, it’s essential to talk about yourself—your experiences, your emotions, even your weaknesses.
4. Find Your Humorous Voice—Will Rogers
Use humor and jokes. The secret of effective humor is to ensure that each laugh makes a point and focuses your audience’s attention on the topic.
5. Make It a Story—Marie Curie on Discovery
Make your speech, whenever possible, a story. Organizing information into a story to give your details weight and vividness. Using storytelling to make your points memorable.
6. Use the Power of Three—Paul to His People
A speech—and the examples and anecdotes it uses—should be planned in threes. Every speech, every story has three parts – a beginning, a middle, and an end, or introduction, body and conclusion of the speech. Also present things in threes. Two of something seems in opposition; three of something seems a completion.
7. Build a Logical Case—Susan B. Anthony
Logic should always guide the sequence of your thoughts.
8. Paint Pictures in Words—Tecumseh on Unity
Narrow your focus to the individual words and phrases you use in your speech—each of which can make your topic unforgettable.
9. Focus on Your Audience—Gandhi on Trial
Focus on your audience is one of the essential elements of actually giving a speech. This is how to deliver your speech to—and connect with—specific audiences.
10. Share a Vision—Martin Luther King’s Dream
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most iconic speeches in modern history. More important: It’s the perfect example of a speech with the power to inspire.
11. Change Minds and Hearts—Mark Antony
Sway emotions and opinions by appealing to sentiments, repeating facts, and using props.
12. Call for Positive Action—Lincoln at Gettysburg
Include a clear call to action near the conclusion of your speech, and always craft a strong ending.
I really liked the first great course I checked out.
The following article of mine on networking tips was published in the May/June 2012 issue of Information Outlook, the magazine of the Special Libraries Association.
Tips for Networking
By Qin Tang, MLS
When I think about networking, it’s not so much about what to do–it’s more about a state of mind, about being, about building trust and relationships. With this in mind, I would like to share 10 tips for networking.
Be authentic. Be yourself. Be original. Be genuine. To be authentic means that your statements, actions, words, and deeds are aligned with your underlying character. You must be yourself, because if you are not, it will be obvious to others around you. So don’t try to be someone else to impress others, or try to hide your true self. One way to be original and authentic is to tell personal stories that are unique to you.
Be curious. Being curious and asking questions can increase your knowledge while also opening new doors and relationships. Take the initiative and engage people in conversations. When you show interest in people and ask them questions, they generally are happy to talk.
Be approachable. Be approachable when other people take the initiative and start a conversation with you. Sometimes people will ask an ice-breaking question that might sound insensitive or mindless to you, but their intention is simply to engage you in conversation. Don’t be offended by other people’s questions or comments.
Be present. Nothing is more valuable than your time, so give the gift of your presence in times of need. Be attentive and focused when you are with someone. Practice active listening. Pay attention to your body language. Use your cellphone or other electronic devices only when there is an emergency.
Be open. Share your genuine thoughts, feelings, successes, failures, joys, concerns, and fears with people. When you are willing to be vulnerable, you will open up hearts and possibilities and deepen friendships and relationships.
Be humble. Nothing turns off a person more than someone who is arrogant. No one enjoys being around someone who knows it all or thinks he knows it all and likes to put others down. Everyone has unique talents, skills, and experiences to share.
Be respectful. Being respectful is an integral part of being professional. Be respectful of other people and their time. Keep your promises and honor your commitments.
Be mindful. People come in all sizes, shapes and colors, with different backgrounds, belief systems, values, opinions, and preferences. Be mindful of the differences. Don’t judge others or make assumptions.
Be positive. Everyone likes to be around people who are positive and emanate positive energy. Be a person who has a big smile, a kind word, a grateful heart, and a gentle spirit.
Be appreciative. Always, always thank people for their service, their assistance, and their gifts. A thank-you note via e-mail is good; a hand-written note is even better. A thoughtful gift, no matter how big or small, can create a memorable impression and a lasting relationship. A small gift along with a hand-written note would be most impressive and greatly appreciated.
I want to end with a few personal experiences to illustrate my points. I have an inquisitive mind and like to ask questions. I enjoy talking to people and getting to know them, even strangers. So I often initiate conversations, especially when I am around people very closely, such as sitting next to someone during a flight. In fact, a couple of the most interesting and deep conversations I have had with other people occurred on flights.
You never know whom you will meet or what you will learn. For example, a gentleman walked into the library recently to request a Wi-Fi password. When I learned that his last name is Coleman, I asked whether he was related to the prominent Coleman family in St. Paul (Nick Coleman, Sr. was a state senator, Chris Coleman is currently the mayor of St. Paul, Nick Coleman is a well-known newspaper columnist, and Pat Coleman is a curator and librarian with whom I would be meeting the following week for work-related reasons). To my amazement, he said, “Yes, I am.” He was Emmett Coleman, a vice president at Comcast. I felt connected instantly, and we had an interesting conversation.
Recently, three librarians from the Donaldson Company in Bloomington, Minnesota, visited our library, which had just received an award for a remodeling project. The Donaldson librarians wanted to learn about our experience, and they received a warm welcome along with a library tour.
A few days later, our library staff was surprised by the delivery of milk and freshly baked chocolate cookies–a thank-you gift from the librarians at Donaldson. This experience has certainly created a special bond between the two libraries.
QIN TANG is a technical services librarian at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Happy Father’s Day to my dad in Suzhou, China.
My dad is an unique individual. What I love most about him is he is the best handyman I know.
My grandfather passed away when my father was still an infant, leaving behind 6 kids and a wife. When my father was still a teenage, he left his home town in northern Jiangsu Province for Shanghai to make a living for himself. He started by making hand towels, later worked in a textile factory.
My dad didn’t have any education opportunity. He didn’t go to school. He didn’t read and didn’t like to read, though he could read newspapers.
Even though my dad is not an educated man, he is very smart and talented, especially with his hands. He learned to do a lot of things. He made all the furniture in our home. He could do plumbing and electrical work. He was the Mr. Fix-it at home and in the neighborhood. He could fix almost anything. He could make keys, repair bicycles, shoes, pots, you name it. We never had to ask anyone else for help around the house. If there was a problem, he could always find a way to fix it.
Now my dad is 80 years old, still pretty healthy. He attributes his health to the exercises he did when he was younger. He used to walk to work every day. He ran and played basketballs. His biggest health problem is his joint pain. He used to shower himself with cold well water for cooling down whenever it was very hot. He thought the joint pain was the result of that.
My mom used to do all the domestic work – grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. A few years ago, my dad took over the domestic work because my mom’s health deteriorated.
My dad actually learned to cook when my parents were here in the US helping me take care of the kids. Once he learned to cook, he didn’t like my mom’s cooking. My mom was happy to not have to cook any more and let him be the chef. I have to say he is a better chef than my mom.
My dad has an amazingly good memory for phone numbers. While I only remember a handful of phone numbers, he seems to remember every relative’s phone number and we have a lot of them. I am amazed by his talents.
My father is a man with few words. He is quiet and doesn’t say much. He is content and considerate. He doesn’t show affection and never tells me he loves me. But he shows his love with his acts of service.
When we moved to the current house 11 years ago, my parents stayed with us for one month before they had to leave. My dad helped me make a vegetable garden, put up some shelves in the garage and basement, without many tools to work with.
Hi Dad, I love you and miss you. Happy Father’s Day from Woodbury to Suzhou! Wish you good health and happiness!
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” — Henry Adams
Today after reading the last email update to parents from my son’s 8th grade math teacher at Lake Middle School, I had an overwhelming feeling of appreciation for him and all teachers. It also reminded me of my favorite teacher (Remembering my favorite teacher). Because of this one favorite teacher I had, I always have a special spot in my heart for teachers.
As school is coming to the end this week for our District, I want to say thank-you to all teachers. Let the following email I sent to my son’s math teacher serve as thank-you note to all teachers my kids have at LMS and teachers everywhere. Even if you have not taught my kids and I don’t know you, I know you have impacted someone in your class and made a difference in his/her life. For your teaching, dedication and love for the kids, I want to say thank-you.
I am so glad you are Andy’s math teacher. He said you have made the class fun. Honestly math is really boring in my mind, maybe because it was not my favorite subject and I am not good at it. So to be able to make math (or any subject) fun is really a great accomplishment for a teacher. Kids are more interested in learning when the subject is fun or when the teacher makes it fun. A teacher really plays an important role in how well kids learn and what they are interested in. Often times it’s because of the teacher.
Thank you so much for your effort in making math fun, for your love for the kids. I feel your truly care for the kids. Reading your final email brought tears to my eyes.
Thanks for always taking the time to write and keep parents informed.
I hope next year Andy will have great teachers like you.
Soft leadership is a new concept I read about today in the Spring 2012 issue of Leader to Leader, a journal on leadership published by Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute.
Even though the concept of putting soft and leadership together as a leadership style or types is new, I think the idea behind it is certainly not new.
We know to be a great leader, we need soft skills, i.e., people skills. Rao blends soft skills with leadership to come up with this new term of soft leadership.
Rao lists 11 characteristics that distinguish great leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, MLK Jr., Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama:
His list overlaps with the list I shared in my article The 30 C’s of leadership.
I can’t agree more with what Rao says about soft leadership:
“Soft leadership touches on caring, connecting, and communicating with people to accomplish desired goals. Soft leaders are basically people-oriented rather than task-oriented. They empathize with others and look at the issues from a human perspective. They have compassion toward others … Soft leadership involves making others feel important. Always look at their strengths and appreciate sincerely.”
I see many leaders fail because they don’t have good soft skills. Great leaders always have excellent people skills.
If you want to learn more about soft leadership, read the journal article or Rao’s book with the same title.
I had an emergency visit to the hospital for my 14 years old son on Wednesday evening. I can’t remember the last time I had to go to ER for anyone in the family. It must be several years ago.
Here is what happened and the lessons learned.
After dinner on Wednesday Andy went out to play some basketball outside as he usually does, for about half an hour. Then he came in and worked on the computer for a while. I was working outside in the garden when he told me that he didn’t feel well. He just noticed that his heart rate was very fast. He had some stomachache and was dizzy/weak. At this time his heart beat was about 120 a min.
I thought it might be food related. He had ham for dinner. The ham had been in the fridge for a while.
So I took him to Woodbury HealthPartner Urgent Care around 8:45 pm, shortly before it closed at 9 pm. The doctor ordered an EKG test to measure the heart rate. The result showed regular beat, but higher than normal at 108. The doctor recommended us to go to ER.
So we moved on to the ER at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and arrived at 10:10 pm. There were over 10 people in front of us. Andy’s situation was not life-threatening. So we had to wait.
We waited for more than 2 hours before we were seen by a resident. At this time, Andy was feeling much better. His heart beat has slowed down to about 90. The resident doctor ordered the same EKG test and also a blood test.
Then more waiting for the result.
Meanwhile a doctor stopped by to check and talk. His diagnosis was Tachycardia, abnormally fast heartbeat. The doctor said it is not uncommon for kids between 5-20 to have this condition. It’s not life-threatening. If it happens again and the heart rate is less than 150, just relax and rest. There is no need for panic.
I asked what caused the sudden heartbeat. It was the first time that Andy ever experienced this. He is healthy and has no medical issues.
The doctor didn’t point to any specific causes, besides saying that it was not unusual for his age.
I was glad that nothing serious was going on. By the time we left ER close to 3 am, Andy’s heart rate was normal. He felt fine, just tired. We were in the ER for 4.5 hours, mostly waiting.
When we got home, it was shortly after 3 am. We slept in the next morning, missed school and work.
Today I updated a co-worker on my ER experience. She said it sounded like dehydration.
As soon as she mentioned the word dehydration, a light bulb went on in me.
From the time we got in the car to drive to the Urgent Care, till we got home, Andy had been drinking water constantly. I had never seen him so thirsty. He drank two bottles of water. He had to refill it from the hospital water fountain.
It made sense now. Andy’s condition could be caused by dehydration. For kids in the 5-20 age group, they are usually very active physically, playing sports. They can easily get dehydrated if they don’t pay attention to their body’s need for water. By the time they feel very thirsty, they can be already in the very serious condition. We are supposed to drink water before we feel thirsty.
I did some research on the Internet. I found that Tachycardia can be caused by exercise or stress. This fast heart rate usually returns to normal range with rest and relaxation. Dehydration also can cause tachycardia, when the dehydration is treated, the heart rate usually returns to normal.
I know the importance of drinking water. Almost every day I remind my kids to drink water. I once read a book titled “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj” and also wrote an article on the healing power of water.
So what are the lessons learned for myself?
Drink more water, especially for kids during and after their physical activities.
Skip Urgent Care if it’s not a minor issue. Anytime it involves heart or other important parts of the body, go to ER directly, to save the extra time and money. The UC doctor will most likely refer the patients to ER anyway. They don’t want to take risk and get in trouble. Better safe than sorry. It’s the patients who have to pay, not them. I can understand that.
Have patience when visiting ER, especially at Regions Hospital. A friend commented on my Facebook that Regions is the slowest around here. I was glad to find two computers in the waiting room. I was able to go online, check my email, post on my blog as planned, and update my Facebook page.
I didn’t feel the doctors gave me a satisfactory answer to my question about the cause. I remember mentioning the fact that Andy had been very thirsty and drinking a lot of water, but I don’t remember anyone mentioning the word dehydration. It seems so obvious now that it was dehydration. Once Andy started drinking water and drank constantly, his condition got better and the heart rate slowed down.
So most importantly, learn and be informed. Take good care of our bodies by drinking more water and eat healthy. And don’t rely blindly on anyone else. Even the doctors don’t necessarily know all and give the best advice.
The instruction on Andy’s discharge sheet reads: “Please follow up with your primary care provider in 3-5 days.”
No, thanks. I don’t think it’s needed now I really know the cause of the problem. I can save the time and money this time.
This is day 31 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
Sayings of King Lemuel
31 The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel— it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
6 Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish!
7 Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
0 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
2 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
This is day 30 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
Sayings of Agur
30 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.
This man’s utterance to Ithiel:
“I am weary, God, but I can prevail.
2 Surely I am only a brute, not a man; I do not have human understanding.
3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.
4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know!
5 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
7 “Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
10 “Do not slander a servant to their master, or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.
11 “There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers; 12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth; 13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful; 14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind.
15 “The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.
“There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: 16 the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’
17 “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.
18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: 19 the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman.
20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’
21 “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: 22 a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat, 23 a contemptible woman who gets married, and a servant who displaces her mistress.
24 “Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: 25 Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; 26 hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; 27 locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; 28 a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.
29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: 30 a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing; 31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and a king secure against revolt.
32 “If you play the fool and exalt yourself, or if you plan evil, clap your hand over your mouth! 33 For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”
This is day 29 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
29 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.
3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
4 By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy forbribes tear it down.
5 Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.
6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.
7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.
8 Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away anger.
9 If a wise person goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.
10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.
11 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.
12 If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.
13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common: The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.
14 If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will be established forever.
15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall.
17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.
18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words; though they understand, they will not respond.
20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.
21 A servant pampered from youth will turn out to be insolent.
22 An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
23 Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.
24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies; they are put under oath and dare not testify.
25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
26 Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.
27 The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.
This is day 28 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
28 The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
2 When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.
3 A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.
4 Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked, but those who heed it resist them.
5 Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.
6 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.
7 A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.
8 Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.
9 If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.
10 Whoever leads the upright along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.
11 The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.
13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.
16 A tyrannical ruler practices extortion, but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.
17 Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder will seek refuge in the grave; let no one hold them back.
18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.
19 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
20 A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good — yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.
22 The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.
23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.
24 Whoever robs their father or mother and says, “It’s not wrong,” is partner to one who destroys.
25 The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.
This is day 27 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
27 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.
3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.
4 Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
7 One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
8 Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home.
9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
10 Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you— better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.
12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
13 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.
15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; 16 restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.
17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
18 The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.
19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
20 Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.
21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise.
22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.
23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; 24 for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.
25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, 26 the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field.
27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family and to nourish your female servants.
This is day 26 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
26 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool.
2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools!
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.
6 Sending a message by the hands of a fool is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
8 Like tying a stone in a sling is the giving of honor to a fool.
9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.
13 A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
14 As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.
15 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
16 A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.
17 Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.
18 Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death
19 is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
20 Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.
23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.
28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
This is day 25 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
More Proverbs of Solomon
25 These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.
4 Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.
6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men;
7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.
What you have seen with your eyes 8 do not bringhastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?
9 If you take your neighbor to court, do not betray another’s confidence,
10 or the one who hears it may shame you and the charge against you will stand.
11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given.
12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.
13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.
14 Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given.
15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
16 If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house— too much of you, and they will hate you.
18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.
19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.
20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
23 Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.
24 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
25 Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.
26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.
27 It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep.
28 Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
Do you want your children to become future leaders and be successful in life?
If so, start them early and young. Encourage your children to get involved in school and community activities.
Tonight I went to the Student Literacy Council (SLC) Banquet at Lake Middle School (LMS). My 6th grade daughter is a first-year council member. The SLC members and families were invited to attend the annual end-of-year banquet to celebrate the students’ hard work and achievements on this year’s SLC.
The SLC, with the guidance and help of the LMS teacher and SLC advisor Ms. Jan Buikema, organized the event. I was very impressed by how well it was organized. The SLC president Jane Crosby-Schmidt, vice president Hannah Eggert, secretary Amanda Weber, and board of directors all spoke at the event. The leadership skills that these young people demonstrated was really impressive.
I think SLC (or other student organizations) is a great place for students to get involved and a great training ground for them to develop their leadership, organization, communication, networking and social skills. Students who participate in extracurricular activities learn leadership skills and often demonstrate leadership potentials at young age.
As I listened to these young people speaking tonight, I could picture them doing great things and being great leaders down the road in high schools, colleges, and workplaces. They got a head start in their leadership development journey by joining SLC or other organizations.
Both of my kids are introverts and shy. I often encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities. They did participate in some activities such as Academic Triathlon, Math League, Math Masters, but they don’t have much interest in doing other types of clubs. So I was glad my daughter who likes to read agreed to join the SLC last year when she entered 6th grade at LMS.
Amy got a ribbon (as a council member) and the 3rd place award for volunteering the most hours (a surprise). I hope she will continue her work on the SLC next year, to develop more leadership, organization, communication, networking and social skills.
This is day 24 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
24 Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company;
2 for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.
3 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
5 The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
6 Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.
7 Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.
8 Whoever plots evil will be known as a schemer.
9 The schemes of folly are sin, and people detest a mocker.
10 If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!
11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
14 Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
15 Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous, do not plunder their dwelling place;
16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.
19 Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked,
20 for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.
21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials,
22 for those two will send sudden destruction on them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?
Further Sayings of the Wise
23 These also are sayings of the wise:
To show partiality in judging is not good:
24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.
25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.
26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.
27 Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.
28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause — would you use your lips to mislead?
29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.”
30 I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest —
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
This is day 23 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
23 When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.
3 Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.
4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies;
7 for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.
9 Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.
10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.
12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
14 Punish them with the rod and save them from death.
15 My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
25 May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful!
26 My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways,
27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
28 Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
This is day 22 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
22 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
2 Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.
3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
4 Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
5 In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.
6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.
9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.
10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.
11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.
13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!”
14 The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit; a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.
Thirty Sayings of the Wise
17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you.
20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?
22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.
24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.
26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.
28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors.
29 Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.
This is day 21 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
Charles Swindoll, in his Insight for Living Bible Study Guide Selected Studies from Proverbs, chapters 7 & 8 titled “You and Your Tongue” and “The Poison in Your Mouth,” talks about the power of the tongue and mouth that can do good or evil.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” — Prov. 18:21
What are the right use of the tongue?
Here are four wise ways the tongue can be used for good.
- Wise counsel, sound advice
- Reproof, rebuke, spiritual exhortation
- Witnessing, teaching, comforting
What are the wrong use of the tongue?
- Deceitful flattery
- Slander, talebearing, and gossip
- Arguments, strife, and angry words
- Boasting and foolish talking
- Profanity and vulgarity
- Lies and Exaggerations
How can we restrain our tongue? – by asking and answering these four questions before we unleash our tongues.
- Is it true?
- Is it confidential?
- It is kind?
- Is it necessary?
Remember that your word us a reflection not only of your character, but also of God’s.
New International Version (NIV)
21 In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.
2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.
3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart—the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
6 A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.
7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right.
8 The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.
9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
10 The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.
11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge.
12 The Righteous Onetakes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin.
13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.
14 A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.
15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.
17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.
18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright.
19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
22 One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.
23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
24 The proud and arrogant person —“Mocker” is his name—behaves with insolent fury.
25 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
26 All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable — how much more so when brought with evil intent!
28 A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully.
29 The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.
30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.
31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.
This is day 20 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
Charles Swindoll, in his Insight for Living Bible Study Guide Selected Studies from Proverbs, chapters 9 & 10 titled “You and Your Job,” talks about work ethic among Christians and takes a close look at Christians as employees in the mirror of Proverbs.
Here is Solomon’s personnel files in Proverbs, the work force Solomon portrays, their habits and attitudes.
Employees Nobody Wants
The Sluggard – laziness, whining
- He had trouble getting started.
- He is restless – filled with inner plans he never implements.
- He is costly to the business.
- He is often very defensive.
- He is a quitter.
- He lives under self-delusional excuses.
The Deceiver – a smooth, sweet-talking type
- He appears to have a life of ease, but it’s really empty and without purpose
- The deception may be exciting initially, but its end is bitter and hard to hear.
- He lacks a sense of loyalty
The Greedy – who chases after riches
- He attempts to find security in money.
- He never slows his fanatical pursuit of riches.
- He is extremely selfish.
- He will get burned because of his greed.
Employees Nobody Wants
The Diligent – someone who is sharp, decisive, keen
- He shows discipline and determination.
- He demonstrates an alert awareness.
- He is a rare and valuable find.
- He is a reservoir of plans and ideas, innovative and creative.
The Thoughtful Boss -
- He is genuinely concerned about the lives of his employees.
- He has understanding and insight.
The Thoughtful Employee -
- He is committed to his job.
- He is loyal to his employer.
The Skillful –
- He is efficient.
- He possess the technical expertise to carry out his job with competence.
New International Version (NIV)
20 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
2 A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives.
3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
4 Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?
7 The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.
8 When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes.
9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
10 Differing weights and differing measures— the Lord detests them both.
11 Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?
12 Ears that hear and eyes that see— the Lord has made them both.
13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.
14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer— then goes off and boasts about the purchase.
15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.
16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.
18 Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.
19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.
20 If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.
21 An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.
22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.
23 The Lord detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.
24 A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?
25 It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows.
26 A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them.
27 The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure.
29 The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.
30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.
This is day 19 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
19 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.
2 Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord.
4 Wealth attracts many friends, but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.
5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.
6 Many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.
7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives—how much more do their friends avoid them! Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.
8 The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.
9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.
10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!
11 A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.
13 A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof.
14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
15 Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry.
16 Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life, but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.
17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.
18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.
19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
22 What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.
23 The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!
25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.
26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother is a child who brings shame and disgrace.
27 Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
29 Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools.
This is day 18 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
18 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.
4 The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.
6 The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.
7 The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.
9 One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.
10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.
12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
13 To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.
14 The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
16 A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.
17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.
18 Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.
19 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.
20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.
21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.
23 The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answer harshly.
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
This is day 17 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
17 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
2 A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son and will share the inheritance as one of the family.
3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
4 A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
7 Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool— how much worse lying lips to a ruler!
8 A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it; they think success will come at every turn.
9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool.
11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God; the messenger of death will be sent against them.
12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.
13 Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent — the Lord detests them both.
16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?
17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
18 One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge and puts up security for a neighbor.
19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.
20 One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper; one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.
21 To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice.
24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him.
26 If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good, surely to flog honest officials is not right.
27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.
This is day 16 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
16 To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.
2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
4 The Lord works out everything to its proper end — even the wicked for a day of disaster.
5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.
7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
8 Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.
9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle, and his mouth does not betray justice.
11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making.
12 Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.
13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but the wise will appease it.
15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!
17 The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.
22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools.
23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
25 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
26 The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.
27 A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
28 A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
29 A violent person entices their neighbor and leads them down a path that is not good.
30 Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity; whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.
31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
This is day 15 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
15 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright.
8 The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
9 The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path; the one who hates correction will die.
11 Death and Destruction[a] lie open before the Lord — how much more do human hearts!
12 Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise.
13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.
17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.
18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.
20 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly brings joy to one who has no sense, but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.
22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!
24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.
25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud, but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place.
26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight.
27 The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.
32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.
This is day 14 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
Charles Swindoll, in his Insight for Living Bible Study Guide Selected Studies from Proverbs, chapters 13 titled “You and Your Heart,” talks about the problem of spiritual heart disease and the importance of watching over the heart.
Biblically, the term heart represents the whole inner being, in contrast to the external side. It not only includes the motives, feelings, affections, and desires, but also the will, the aims, the principles, the thoughts, and the intellect.
There are various kinds of hearts:
- A scheming heart
- A cunning, sensual heart
- A wise heart
- A deceptive heart
- A hurting heart
- A tranquil heart
- A righteous heart
- A glad heart
- A haughty heart
- A heart of rage
- A pure heart
- An envious heart
What is it that determines the kind of heart we will have?
1. Our thoughts – We are what we think about.
For as he thinks within himself, so he is. (Prov. 23:7a)
Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap your character. Sow your character, reap your destiny.
2. Our speech – The tongue does more than just reveal what’s in our hearts, it sparks other thoughts and consumes the thoughts of others around us.
3. Our money – Our hearts are shaped by how we spend our money.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12:34)
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life (Prov. 4:23)
The heart is where the Holy Spirit communicates truth. So guard that. Preserve that.
New International Version (NIV)
14 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
2 Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways.
3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.
5 An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.
6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.
7 Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
9 Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.
10 Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.
14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good rewarded for theirs.
15 The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.
16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.
17 A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.
18 The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19 Evildoers will bow down in the presence of the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends.
21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
22 Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.
23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
24 The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly.
25 A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful.
26 Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.
28 A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined.
29 Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.
33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known.[b]
34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.
35 A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury.
For Mother’s Day, my kids gave me 13 poems (I have been a mother for 13 years), a hand-made card, and a rose my daughter drew in the last two days.
Nothing could make me happier than that they created specially for me.
For the last several years, my kids have always given me poems and hand-made cards for Mother’s Day, Birthday, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, or any special occasions. This is what I want and ask for. I never want them to buy me any gifts.
When we were in a store on Saturday, my kids wanted to buy me something for Mother’s Day, I told them I didn’t want anything from the store. They knew what I expected from them.
Last night, as I was about to read to my daughter bedtime stories, I asked her how many poems she had written, she said: “Only one. I have no talent in writing poems. Anyone who knows rhyming words can think of sentences and write poems. I am not good and I don’t want to write poems any more. And I don’t want to enter the State Fair competition any more.”
I was surprised by her words. In fact, I felt so saddened, tears came flowing down my eyes and I couldn’t read to her any more. So I said “Good night” and left her room.
I always see Amy as someone who has a special talent in poetry. She entered the State Fair competition in the last three years and won every year. I always encourage her to write poems. The thought that she would stop writing just broke my heart.
So I wrote a note to her:
When you told me that you have no talent for poetry and you don’t want to write poems and enter State Fair any more, I felt really sad and heartbroken. I couldn’t read to you because I couldn’t help my tears flowing.
You do have big talent for writing poems. They have brought me the greatest joy. There is no gift that brings me more joy and means more to me that the poems you have written for me. I hope you will continue writing and giving me poems for Mother’s Day, Birthday, Christmas, New Year, Easter and other special occasions.
I was so happy that my kids didn’t disappoint me today. I received the poems, the card and the drawing they created specially for me for Mother’s Day. The gifts meant more to me this year than ever.
To my kids – Please keep writing and creating. Your gifts from your hearts, minds and hands are the only gifts that will truly make me happy.
This is day 13 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
13 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.
2 From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things, but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.
3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
4 A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.
6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
8 A person’s riches may ransom their life, but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.
9 The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.
10 Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.
15 Good judgment wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.
16 All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.
20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
21 Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.
22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
23 An unplowed field produces food for the poor, but injustice sweeps it away.
24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.
This is day 12 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
12 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.
3 No one can be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted.
4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
5 The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.
6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them.
7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm.
8 A person is praised according to their prudence, and one with a warped mind is despised.
9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.
10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
11 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
12 The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers, but the root of the righteous endures.
13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk, and so the innocent escape trouble.
14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.
15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
17 An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies.
18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.
21 No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
22 The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.
24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.
25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
27 The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.
28 In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.
This is day 11 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
11 The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.
8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead.
9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.
10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
13 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
14 For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
16 A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth.
17 Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
19 Truly the righteous attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death.
20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.
22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
26 People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
27 Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.
28 Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.
31 If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!
This is day 10 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
Proverbs of Solomon
10 The proverbs of Solomon:
A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.
2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.
3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot.
8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.
14 The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
16 The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.
19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
21 The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.
22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.
23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.
24 What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted.
25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.
26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so are sluggards to those who send them.
27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.
28 The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.
29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.
30 The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land.
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced.
32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.
This is day 9 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
Charles Swindoll, in his Insight for Living Bible Study Guide Selected Studies from Proverbs, chapters 5-6 titled “You and Your Daughter,” compares and contrast two sets of women as portrait in Proverbs 9 and other chapters to help us learn about the qualities that can help our daughters become godly women.
The Foolish Woman vs. the Wise Woman
The Foolish Woman -
- She tears down her house.
- She is destructive.
- She is boisterous.
- She makes a mockery sin.
- She is deceptive.
- She is quarrelsome.
The Wise Woman -
- She builds her house.
- She understands the value of being wise.
- She is constructive.
- She develops a caring spirit.
- She cultivates the skills of her hands.
- She knows how to handle money.
- She knows the blessings of hard work.
The Sensual Woman vs. the Virtuous Woman
Signs of the Sensual Woman – 5 distinctive traits
- By her words
- By her friends
- By her lack of spiritual commitment
- By her appearance
- By her attitude
The Virtuous Woman -
She is trustworthy, diligent, capable, committed to her family’s well-being, prudent, generous, strong, kind, has integrity, speaks wisely, and is appreciated by her family.
The Contentious Woman vs. the Gracious Woman
The Contentious Woman -
- She strives on stirring up conflict and unhappiness.
- She has an unchecked stubborn will.
The Gracious Woman -
- She has a gracious, humble, teachable will.
- She is accepting and appreciative, thoughtful and considerate.
The Indiscreet Woman vs. the Godly Woman
The Indiscreet Woman -
She lacks the ability to choose between the tasteful and the tasteless, the appropriate and the inappropriate, right and wrong, good and bad.
The Godly Woman -
- She fears the Lord.
- She knows her source of genuine beauty is her inner character.
- She cultivates an inner Christlike beauty that’s eternal.
The wise and foolish influences in our lives:
- Foolish influences – TV, advertising, movie, music, peer pressure, magazines, pop stars
- Wise influences – Bible study, volunteer work, time with parents, music and books with godly themes …
New International Version (NIV)
Invitations of Wisdom and Folly
9 Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.
2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city,
4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says,
5 “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.”
7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.
13 Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city,
15 calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way,
16 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious! ”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.
This is day 8 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
8 Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
7 My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.
8 All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.
9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power.
15 By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern, and nobles—all who rule on earth.
17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me and making their treasuries full.
22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.
32 “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”
This is day 7 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
In the first seven chapters of Proverbs, chapters 1-4 are about purpose and benefits of wisdom. Chapters 2:16-19, 5-7 are warnings against adultery.
The fact that Proverbs repeatedly flashes warning signals alerting us to the peril of adultery, is no coincidence. It has reasons and significance.
The repetition implies that the danger is urgent and serious. It was a serious problem in Solomon’s day, and it is a serious problem no less today.
The peril of adultery includes:
Destruction – Adultery destroys one’s wealth, body, soul, and reputation.
Proverbs 2:18-19 — Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.
Proverbs 5:5 — Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.
Proverbs 6:32 — But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself.
Proverbs 7:27 — Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.
Shame and Regret
Proverbs 5:11 — At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.
Proverbs 6:27-29 — Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.
As I think about the seven chapters I read so far and look at the news headlines in the last few days, I marvel at the wisdom of King Solomon, and ultimately the infinite wisdom of God.
Many great men in history, including King David, father of King Solomon, fall on adultery.
Had the former senator and presidential candidate Johnny or the CIA guys who are in the current news headlines or the many names who appeared in the headlines in the past listened to and obeyed the warnings against adultery in Proverbs, their destruction and shame would have been avoided.
New International Version (NIV)
Warning Against the Adulterous Woman
7 My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you.
2 Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.”
5 They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words.
6 At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice.
7 I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense.
8 He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house
9 at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.
10 Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
11 (She is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)
13 She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said:
14 “Today I fulfilled my vows, and I have food from my fellowship offering at home.
15 So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you!
16 I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
18 Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love!
19 My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey.
20 He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.”
21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose
23 till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.
24 Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.
26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.
This is day 6 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
Warnings Against Folly
6 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 2 you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth. 3 So do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go to the point of exhaustion and give your neighbor no rest! 4 Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. 5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — 11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
12 A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, 13 who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, 14 who plots evil with deceit in his heart— he always stirs up conflict. 15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
Warning Against Adultery
20 My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 21 Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. 23 For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life, 24 keeping you from your neighbor’s wife, from the smooth talk of a wayward woman.
25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.
26 For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread, but another man’s wife preys on your very life. 27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? 28 Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? 29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.
30 People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. 31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. 32 But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. 33 Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away.
34 For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. 35 He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.
This is day 5 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
Warning Against Adultery
5 My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. 3 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; 4 but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. 6 She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.
7 Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. 8 Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, 9 lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel, 10 lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another. 11 At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. 12 You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! 13 I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors. 14 And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. 20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?
21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. 23 For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.
This is day 4 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
New International Version (NIV)
Get Wisdom at Any Cost
4 Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. 3 For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. 4 Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. 5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown. ”
10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. 14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. 16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. 17 They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.
20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
This is day 3 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
Again, I am using Charles Swindoll’s Insight for Living Bible Study Guide Selected Studies from Proverbs to help me in the study.
In this book Swindoll doesn’t go chapter by chapter through the book of Proverbs, except at the beginning and then again at the end of the book. Instead he pulls verses from different chapters together that focus on a particular topic, such as fatherly advice for raising sons to be honorable men, the qualities that help daughters become godly women, the use of the tongue, employees nobody wants or employees everybody wants.
Today I read chapter 4 titled “You and Your Son” that talks about fatherly advice for raising sons to be honorable men.
Five areas of teaching:
1. Teach him to stand alone – Proverbs 1:10-19 highlights the need to teach our sons the importance of having biblical convictions and being willing to stand up for them, even when that means standing alone.
- First teach him what a good friend really is.
- Second, remind him of the consequences of wrong.
2. Teach him to be open to God’s counsel – A tender heart toward God is one of the hallmark of true manhood.
- First, teach him to respond to our counsel. If he treasures our counsel as a child, then treasuring God’s counsel in his adulthood will be an easy transition.
- Second, we must help him see the value of other people’s correction.
- Third, we should share the experience of our life with him.
- Fourth, we’ve got to spend sufficient time counseling our sons.
3. Teach him how to deal with temptation – The two areas of temptation mentioned most in Proverbs come from the opposite sex and overindulgence in food and alcohol.
4. Teach him how to handle money – There are four basic areas of financial responsibility:
5. Teach him the value of hard work – Hard work pays off. It is a mistake to give to a child without allowing him or her to experience the value and reward of hard, diligent work. Parents should give their children specific jobs to do around the home. Help them find ways of earning money and sharing in the expenses of their education. That will help prepare them for living on their own.
Two added ingredients – Constant delight and consistent discipline. Our sons need to know that we care and delight in them so they won’t be discouraged.
The most important son ever born and lived is Jesus. We can’t make the kind of men out of our sons that the Scriptures teach until we first come to know God’s Son for ourselves. Raising a godly son begins with know the Son.
New International Version (NIV)
Wisdom Bestows Well-Being
3 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.[b]
13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.
19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; 20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.
21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; 22 they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. 23 Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. 24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, 26 for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you. 29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. 30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason— when they have done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways.
32 For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence. 33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. 34 He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. 35 The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.
This is day 2 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
Again, I am using Charles Swindoll’s Insight for Living Bible Study Guide Selected Studies from Proverbs to help me in the study.
Swindoll points out four tools or disciplines needed to extract King Solomon’s treasures.
1. Discipline of the Written word -
- First, possess the right attitude toward God’s Word.
- Second, saturate our mind with God’s Word. The right handling of God’s Word includes hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on it. Such diligent cultivation will result in a rich harvest of wisdom.
2. Discipline of inner desire -
- First, have an attentive ear. Ask God to make you attentive to wisdom’s voice.
- Second, cultivate an open heart.
3. Discipline of prevailing prayer – consistent fervent prayer
- First, proclaim the need for discernment.
- Second, request understanding.
4. Discipline of daily consistency -
- First, seek wisdom with diligence.
- Second, pursue it with patience.
The Results – awe and intimacy
- The fear of the Lord – a deep, awesome respect.
- The knowledge of God – a bosom nearness to God.
- First, from within: our hearts will be filled with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
- Second, from without: God will provide protection.
- Third, from above: God will direct us into successful pursuits – righteousness, justice, equity, every good course – that give satisfaction.
New International Version (NIV)
Moral Benefits of Wisdom
2 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding — 3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13 who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.
16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.
20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.
This is day 1 of the 31 Day Proverbs Challenge to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May.
The book of of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, the wisest man ever lived on earth. He gained wisdom by asking God.
When Solomon succeeded his father David as king over Israel, God said to Solomon in a dream: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5). The young King Solomon could have asked for anything he wanted. Instead of asking for riches and long life, he asked God for “a discerning heart,” he asked for wisdom.
God was true to His word: “I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. (1 Kings 3:12).
Just as King Solomon gained his wisdom by asking God, we can gain wisdom by asking God. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
What is wisdom?
Charles Swindoll says in his Insight for Living Bible Study Guidde Selected Studies from Proverbs: “Knowledge is not enough to meet life’s problems. We need wisdom, the ability to handle life with skill. Being wise means being skilled in godly living. Having God’s wisdom means having the ability to cope with life in a God-honoring way.”
Proverbs teaches us the skill of living life harmoniously, effectively and successfully. Proverbs enriches our ability to cope with daily life and other people.
Wisdom is not knowledge and intelligence. One can have great knowledge and intelligence without great wisdom, and vice versa.
We should rely more on God’s wisdom and less on human intelligence, because God’s wisdom is limitless while human intelligence is limited.
Proverbs 1 mentions three key sources of wisdom: the fear of the Lord, a father’s instruction, and a mother’s teaching – all three impart wisdom.
LeRoy Eims says fearing God is to “reverence God, serve Him, worship Him, obey Him, and love Him, that is a picture of the beginning of knowledge. And only fools despise it.”
Beginning in verse 20, Solomon presents wisdom as a person. Wisdom speaks to us personified as a woman. Charles Swindoll explained in his Selected Studies from Proverbs some basic facts about wisdom:
- Wisdom is available. She is not shy, but very accessible and easy to find. She goes out of her way to speak to us through God’s Word, creation, and the lessons of daily life. But we often refuse reproof, because we are self-centered, proudful, insensitive, indifferent and defensive.
- Wisdom comes to us when we accept and adjust to God’s reproofs. Sometimes God’s reproofs come to us directly through His Word. Sometimes He also uses indirect means to correct us through life’s experiences or other people.
- Wisdom can be ignored and spurned. Our problem is not exposure to wisdom, our problem is putting her words into practice.
- Wisdom spurned bears serious consequences.
New International Version (NIV)
Purpose and Theme
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,knowledge and discretion to the young— 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— 6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Prologue: Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom
Warning Against the Invitation of Sinful Men
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. 11 If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; 12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; 14 cast lots with us; we will all share the loot ”— 15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; 16 for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. 17 How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it! 18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! 19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; 21 on top of the wallshe cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:
22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. 24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you — 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, 29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. 30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
This past Sunday, Todd Hyland, one of the two interim Co-Pastors at Spirit of Life Bible Church, challenged the congregation to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs and there are 31 days in the month of May.
I decided to accept his challenge. A chapter a day in a month should be easy to remember and do, and it could energize my spiritual life and change my life for the better.
What can I gain from reading the Proverbs?
Wisdom! That’s what I need and want.
Wisdom is skill in godly living. I know I need more wisdom so I can become more skilled in godly living.
Reading the book of Proverbs will help me attain wisdom and discipline, live a prudent life, teach me to do what is right, to obey God, because the fear of the God is the beginning of knowledge.
Though I have the desire to learn about and read the Bible, I must admit, I am not always good and faithful at reading it every day. So the challenge will provide me a good opportunity to do something I wanted to do.
I have Dr. Efe Agbamu as my accountability partner. Efe was the Park High School principal when she was named Minnesota’s Secondary Principal of the Year in 2011. Now she is back with St. Paul Public School District as the Executive Director of Dual Language Programs & World Languages. With her teaching and leadership background, I am sure she will keep me well on track.
Today I was home, off from work. This idea came to me early in the morning. Why don’t I post my challenge and daily readings on my blog? There might be other people interested in doing the challenge. Besides, if I make the commitment and make it public, I will be held more accountable.
I got into action, really excited.
In the morning I went to the basement and found my German Bible I had not touched in years. I plan to read the Proverbs in English, Chinese and German. Reading the same content in different languages will not only increase my understanding, it will also help refresh my German language skills.
Since I moved from Germany to the US over 20 years ago in 1991, my German language skills suffered beyond repair. I wanted to pick it up before I forget all. After all, I spent 9 years of my life studying German, and I shouldn’t let it all go.
I spread my Bibles in English, Chinese and German on the table and started reading to get a head start. I had the Google Translator on the screen to help me translate words I didn’t know or remember.
To help me navigate between the different versions and languages more easily, I turned to the Bible Gateway website and had the Bible online as well. This cool website offers Bibles in all kinds of versions and languages. I can also make the font bigger to be easier on the eyes. Copying and pasting favorite verses are just a few clicks away.
In addition to read the Proverbs, I will also use Charles Swindoll’s Insight for Living Bible Study Guide Selected Studies from Proverbs to help me in the study.
Another great online resource is Executable Outlines – Free sermon outlines and Bible studies! There you will find Sermon outlines based on the book of Proverbs.
Here is what I will do for the next 31 days:
- Read one chapter in Proverbs every day.
- Read the book Selected Studies from Proverbs, a Bible study guide by Charles Swindoll from Insight for Living.
Post the chapter of the day on my blog to share with readers. I will highlight my favorite verses.
- I will also post selected verses or the link to my blog on Facebook to share with others.
Now I am ready for the challenge to begin tomorrow. Hope you will join me in growing deeper in God’s Word and wisdom!
The following materials on witnessing and sharing our faith were presented by Evangelist Paul Ridgeway at the Witnessing and Evangelism Seminar held at New Life Academy in Woodbury on April 28, 2012. I talked about it in yesterday’s post.
Thank you Paul for sharing your knowledge about and love for Jesus so generously with me and others who are interested.
What does WITNESSES stand for?
ACTS 8: 4-8, 25-40
W - WILLINGNESS to be led by the Holy Spirit vs. 26,29,39
I - IMMEDIATE response & obedience vs. 27
T - TACTFUL approach vs. 30
N - NOTICE interest & openness vs. 31,34
E - EXPLAIN Gospel verbally vs. 35
S - SCRIPTURES must be used vs. 35, Isaiah 55
S - SHARE Jesus vs. 35
E - EMPHASIZE repentance & commitment vs. 36-37
S - SYSTEMATIC follow-up vs. 38 baptism and follow-up
Sharing Our Faith: WHY?
- Because God has commanded us to do so. The final words of Jesus while on earth (Acts. 1:8) and also the Bible (Rev. 22:17) speaks concerning this.
- Because it demonstrates our love for God. Christ said that if we truly love Him we would keep His commandments (John 14:15).
- Because all are lost! (Romans 3:10 & 23).
- Because our sharing is God’s chosen method to tell all people. He could have used angels, but He didn’t. Only redeemed sinners can tell lost sinners about Christ. (Romans 10:14-17).
- Because God desires to save all people. (Acts 4:12; 2; Peter 3:9; 1st. Timothy 2:4).
- Because someone once shared his or her faith with us. It may have been a faithful Bible teacher or a godly pastor, or, a praying parent. In other words, they have the right to expect that we will do for others what they have done for us. WHO SHARED THE GOSPEL WITH YOU?
Sharing Our Faith: WHAT?
- God’s Word says all are sinners, condemned to hell. (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10, 11, 23; Romans 5:8 & 12; Revelations 20:15). Sadly 40% of those “professing to be Christian do not believe there is a hell.”
- There is nothing a lost person can do on his or her own to save themselves. (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:9).
- Christ was born, crucified, and resurrected to save lost people from their sin (John 3:16 & 17; 1st. Timothy 1:15).
- To be saved a sinner must believe God’s Word and invite Christ into their heart by faith. ( John 5:24; Acts 16:31).
Sharing Our Faith: HOW?
- First, we must be clean vessels. God reminds Isaiah the prophet of this, “Be clean, You who bear the vessels of the Lord” ( Isaiah 52:11). David the sinner prays for forgiveness and cleansing. Upon receiving this he states, “Then I will teach the transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You ( Psalms 51:13). While God does not demand gold or silver vessels, He does require CLEAN ONES. “I want to live right, so God can use me, at any time and anywhere”.
- We must be able to clearly give out the simple facts of the Gospel without getting bogged down with profound theological concepts. Philip the evangelist demonstrated how to do this when he dealt with a sinner in the desert. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:35).
- We must avoid arguments and stick to the basic issues of men and women and their sins and Christ’s blood. Often unbelievers will attempt to sidestep the Gospel by asking unrelated questions, such as “Where did Cain get his wife?” Don’t “SHOW OFF YOUR KNOWLEDGE” but “SHOW THEM THE SAVIOR”.
- We must use the Word of God. Paul’s tremendous success as an evangelist can be linked directly to his consistent use of God’s Word. ( Acts 17:2; 18:28; II Timothy 2:15; 3: 14-17).
- We must depend on the Spirit of God. ( John 3:15; Acts 6:10; I Corinthians 2:4).
Sharing Our Faith: WHEN?
- Revival meeting in Chicago on the night of October 8, 1871. Evangelist asked people to think about making a decision for Christ and to come back the next night prepared to make that decision. THERE WAS NO NEXT NIGHT. The Chicago fire broke out and 250 people lost their lives, and nearly four miles of buildings were consumed. The evangelist vowed never to end a service without giving an invitation to accept Christ immediately.
- The question of when we should share our faith is directly tied to when a sinner should accept Christ. The Bible is clear that God’s accepted time is TODAY. ( Hebrews 3:15; 4:7; II Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 55:6). The reason is simple, a sinner has no assurance whatsoever that he or she will live to see tomorrow. ( Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12:19; James 4: 13-15).
DEATHS AROUND THE WORLD DAILY:
- Every Hour of the Day: 10,000 people
- In One Day: 240,000 people
- In One Week: 1.68 Million
- One Month: 6.72 Million
- One Year: 80.64 Million
- Seventy Years: 5.644 BILLION
Thus, we are to witness ANY TIME, ALL THE TIME, IN ANY PLACE AND IN ALL PLACES. The Apostle Paul shows us how this should be done. He witnesses everywhere, in a prison at midnight (Acts 16: 25-31). And, he even witnessed on a sinking ship during a dark and stormy day (Acts 27: 20-25).
“YOU MAY BE ONLY ONE PERSON IN THE WORLD. BUT, YOU MAY BE THE WORLD TO ONE PERSON.” Frank Mosley, SOS Evangelism Founder.
SOS EVANGELISM “Scriptures On Salvation”
Always ask for PERMISSION to witness to someone.
Three questions to ask someone you are witnessing to:
1. Do you ever think of spiritual things?
2. Have you ever thought about becoming a Christian? (Note: The question is not “are you a Christian” but “have you ever thought of becoming one?”) Good reason for this wording.
3. If someone were to ask you what makes a person a Christian what would you say? THIS IS CALLED THE “X-RAY QUESTION”. IT WILL SHOW YOU IF THE PERSON IS SAVED AND IF THEY KNOW HOW ONE MIGHT BE SAVED.
THINGS TO DO TO BRING ABOUT WITNESS OPPORTUNITIES:
1. PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY – Pray without ceasing. The “prayers of the righteous person is powerful and effective”, James 5:16.
2. Pray and be ready to SHARE with others. Show an genuine interest in them.
3. Pray for Openings:
- Pray for Open Eyes: John 4:35 “ Open your eyes and see the fields white unto harvest.”
- Pray for Open Doors: Colossians 4:3.
- Pray for Open Mouths: Ephesians 6: 19-20. Make known the mystery of the mystery of the Gospel.
- Pray for Open Scriptures: Psalms 119:18. Open my eyes to see the wonderful things from Your law.
- Pray for Open Hearts: Luke 24:32. Hearts burning when he opened Scriptures to us. JESUS WILL COME IN, Revelation 3:20.
WITNESSING IS NOT “AN EVENT, IT IS A LIFE-STYLE.”
- Ask God for you to “weep for the lost” and then take action.
- Ask God for “Divine Appointments” because “He directs your path”.
- ASK GOD FOR FAVOR. Acts 2:47.
- Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit ( Luke 12:12). He will lead and guide you.
- Always ask for permission to share the “Good News” with a person.
- LISTEN to people, their needs, their story and their questions and answers.
- LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THE PEOPLE WHO NEED JESUS BECAUSE WE ARE ALL SINNERS IN NEED OF A SAVIOR.
- Carry Gospel tracts. Gods Word “will not come back void.”
- Think of ways you can “show Jesus and His love to a lost world:”
- Leave a good tip and ask waitress/waiter if you can pray for them.
- Leave tip for hotel maid with Gospel tract. Also, for anyone you are tipping.
- Pray before meals in private and public. Ask associates if you might bless the meal. That is a soft witness.
- Think how you can show “kindness” to others. FAMOUS TELEGRAM OF GENERAL WILLIAM BOOTH OF THE SALVATION ARMY.
- People that are going through a crisis or troubles, call them or send them a personal note to encourage them. Visit them, offer to help.
- Give Gospel tapes, CD’s or DVD’s about Christian themes or ideas that can help the person who does not know Christ.
- Invite people with you to special services where Christ would be presented.
- Offer to pray for people, and, if they ask, agree you will pray. And, start “right then” with a prayer for them. Ask God to remind you of their needs and keep a prayer list.
- SMILE at people, especially those that are serving you. Gas station, grocery store, etc.. Say thank you and “God bless you.”
- Be a Word and Deed Christian. But, let’s not “Love People Into Hell” by not telling them about Jesus but still be nice, kind neighbors. Romans tells us “Blessed are the feet of those who BRING GOOD NEWS.”
A FEW MORE THOUGHTS:
- When witnessing, if you don’t know the answer or understand the question, be honest with the person you are talking to. Tell them you will get back to them with the answer.
- Be considerate of a person’s time and their work situation. Do not let your witness hurt someone’s job situation or cause them stress. Ask if you could meet with them at another time.
- It is more important to tell people “what the Bible says” than “what I think.”
- Pray as you meet with a person to the Lord privately, asking for guidance, favor and the right words. And, most importantly show love and humility.
- Remember, He that is within you (the Holy Spirit) is greater than he that is in the world (Satan). Satan is a defeated foe, dangerous, but, still defeated under the power of God.
- Ephesians 6:10-18 put on the FULL ARMOUR OF GOD daily, especially when witnessing.
- REMEMBER, IT IS GOD WHO CONVICTS THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT. WE ARE PURELY MESSENGERS OF LOVE TO GIVE THE “GOOD NEWS.” WE ARE TO BE THE FISHERS OF MEN AND WOMEN, BUT IT’S GOD’S JOB TO CATCH AND CLEAN THEM.
- The Bible says a “wise person” wins souls. And, that there is a special crown/reward for Christians who witness and lead people to Jesus. God rewards on faithfulness in spite of what “results” from our witnessing.
Paul Ridgeway is a career accomplished event planner for big events such as Super Bowls, visits by heads of state including the former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Minnesota, Minnesota Remembers (the memorial event with 40,000 people at the state capitol just a few days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks). He also has a tender heart and love for witnessing and evangelism for Jesus Christ.
I had never heard the name Paul Ridgeway, though I knew about or even participated in big events he organized, such as the Luis Palau Twin Cities Festival, a massive two-day evangelical revival on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds in St. Paul in August 2004. Well, until this morning when I attended the last session of the 4-part series “Business Is My Calling” at New Life Academy in Woodbury.
Today’s session titled “Tell Them, Because Eternity is Forever” by Evangelist Paul Ridgeway was about witnessing and evangelism. Paul shared powerful testimonies and interesting stories he experienced in his eventful career and life. I really enjoyed his teaching and was very impressed by his boldness and humbleness in sharing the Gospel with others.
I will share Paul’s presentation in the next post.
Here is an article about Paul from Twin Cities Business.
Every year, the School District 833 offers various free summer camps through the Office of Equity and Integration.
This summer, two nature camps are offered to elementary students only (entering 1st – 5th ) – Native American and Belwin nature camps.
Native American and Belwin Outdoor Science Summer Camp – 2 Weeks (One week at Belwin’s Nature Preserve and one week at American Indian Magnet)
- Dates: June 18-22 and June 25-29
- Times: 9am – 2pm weekdays
Belwin Outdoor Science Summer Camp – 1 Week
- Dates: July 9-13 OR July 16-20
- Times: 9am – 2pm weekdays
There is no cost for the camps – free tuition, free transportation, free breakfast and free lunch. Transportation will be provided to students of South Washington County Schools.
Detailed and registration information can be found on the OEI website. As space is limited, registrations will be taken in the order they are received and must be completed by April 27.
Being a parent of two preteens who are less than two years apart, I have had my fair share of frustration.
My kids fought over things big or small, such as who got to use the laptop computer. They argued about who did what.
“I need to use the computer, but he/she won’t let me.”
“Why should I do this, when Andy doesn’t have to?”
“How comes Amy doesn’t have to do it?”
It was frustrating to hear their same arguments again and again.
I found a simple yet quite effective solution, using odd days and even days.
My son’s birthday falls on an odd day, my daughter on an even day. When it is an odd day, my son gets to use the computer first for an hour, then he has to let his sister use it the next hour. They take turns. On odd days he washes dishes, on even days, she washes dishes.
Once the ground rule was set, the arguments diminished considerably. No more fights and complaints as it used to be. I simply ask the question: “What day is today?” It settles before they argue.
They still argue and complain sometimes, but it’s so much better now.
I am glad I have more peace and less frustration at home now.
“God bless you!”
“May you be blessed!”
These are the words I often hear people use, and I have used them myself sometimes.
But what is a blessed life?
A nicer car, a dream house, the ideal job, wonderful children, more money, better health, a more comfortable life … a little nicer, better, or more of everything?
A blessed life is a life with Christ.
Yesterday evening I went to a presentation by Dr. David W. Pao at Twin City Chinese Christian Church. Dr. Pao is Professor of New Testament and Chair of the New Testament Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. His topic was about a blessed life. He used Jacob in the Bible as the example.
Dr. Pao said having a blessed life is to know what God’s plan is for your life and what your role is in God’s kingdom.
I think a blessed life is also a fulfilling life. A fulfilling life is the result of have your purpose, talents and values aligned.
Do you know what your purpose is in life? What gives meaning to your life?
What are your talents, gifts and skills that distinguish you from others?
What is important to you? What do you value and stand for as a person?
When you identify your talents and values, and know how to use your gifts to serve the Lord and the needs of others, you have your purpose, your calling in life. If you ignore your talents, values and purpose in life, no amount of external success can make you feel fulfilling and complete.
May you have a blessed life!
The 2012 Woodbury Citizen’s Academy graduation ceremony took place at the Eagle Valley Golf Course Clubhouse today at 6:30 pm.
22 members from the community graduated from the third Woodbury Citizen’s Academy.
During the last nine weekly sessions, participants learned about all aspects of Woodbury community: city government, public safety, community activities, city works, history, education, local media, business, and voluntarism.
Alisa Rabin Bell, Executive Director of Woodbury Community Foundation, welcomed the guests that include the graduating class, WCA alumni from last two years, Woodbury Community Foundation board members, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, Woodbury City Administrator Clint Gridley, State Representative Andrea Kieffer, Washington County commissioner Lisa Weik, etc.
Dick Hanson from Woodbury Community Foundation delivered the keynote address. Then each class member was presented with a graduation certificate and a copy of the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
I was part of the first Woodbury Citizen’s Academy in 2010.
Today is April 15. I finally got my tax returns done and ready to go, two days before the IRS tax filing deadline which is on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.
For me, it was a big accomplishment and relief.
I don’t like doing tax returns, that’s why I tend to procrastinate and wait till the last days.
With the tax returns behind me, now I am thinking about the May 15 deadline of paying the semi-annual property tax.
Sometimes it feels like that life is just a never-ending to-do list, both at home and at work.
Cooking, dish washing, laundry, cleaning, bills, taxes, doctor appointments …
Staff meetings, stats, performance reviews …
Some of the things we do in life are just things we need and have to do, not what we really enjoy doing.
To-to list has a negative connotation to me. When we have a lot of things on the to-do list, life becomes weary.
To bring balance to our life, I think we should create a “To-Enjoy” list. At least once a day, ditch the to-do list and enjoy something from the “To-Enjoy” list.
My To-Enjoy list would include:
Reading, writing, gardening, walking …
This weekend, as well as last weekend, I spent several hours working in my garden, replanting and composting. I totally enjoyed it even though it was labor. I get lost in time when I am gardening.
Life is a never-ending to-do list. We need a To-Enjoy list to make life more bearable, enjoyable and exciting.
In a training environment, there are generally four different types of people – the Vacationer, the Prisoner, the Expert, and the Explorer /Learner.
The Vacationer sees training as a time to get away from work and routine tasks, an opportunity to just sit back, relax and daydream. He might come late and leave early, take long lunches or breaks. He is in a vacation mode.
The Prisoner is someone who has been sent by management and personally doesn’t want to attend the training. The Prisoner is in class because of a job requirement. He would rather be any other place than in training. This student is resistant to anything and everything presented.
The Expert is someone who knows it all and loves a challenge. He thinks he already has the knowledge or information. He likes to challenge the trainer on every topic.
The Explorer/Learner is the person who loves to learn and explore new ideas. This type of student will usually sit at the front of the class, often arriving early and staying late to ask a lot of questions.
I usually seek and participate in training because I am interested and want to learn and grow. I see myself as an Explorer/Learner. I always sit at the front of the class and ask questions. Sitting at the front of the class reduces distraction and allows me to listen better and pay more attention to the trainer.
We all feel like a vacationer, a prisoner, an expert and an explorer from time to time during training. The frame of mind we bring into training affects the process and the outcome of the training and learning.
When I attended the Emerging Leaders Institute training in the last few months, I think everyone of the 30 classmates was an Explorer/Learner, because we wanted to be there. It’s so much more beneficial and fun to be in the Explorer/Learner frame of mind and in the class with other like-minded people.
Guest column by Melanie Bowen, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog
Setting and achieving goals are the real spices of life. It helps us to look forward to the future. When we have a life list, a bucket list so to speak, we have direction. We have a sense of purpose. When we feel that we have fulfilled our purpose then we feel a sense of accomplishment. A sense of accomplishment gives us a greater sense of well-being. Regardless of your age, health status, even if you were diagnosed with a disorder from mesothelioma cancer to arthritis, anyone can benefit from making a life list and maintaining personal goals.
Part of proactive wellness is taking charge of your health. Making goals and accomplishing tasks can promote a healthy quality of life. Through writing your desires, wishes, and accomplishments on your life list you be able to start living for the future.
Undertaking smaller tasks will give you more confidence to reach for the larger ones. When writing down your desires, wishes, and goals break them up into smaller pieces. Sometimes it helps to see the bigger picture when you break it up into smaller segments. For instance, here is what you can do to help plan a cruise to the Caribbean. The first step is to research prices. Next, find the price that best suits your budget. Research tickets, cruise lines, flights, and find the right date. Once you find those things book your trip and you are done! It’s that simple. If you continue these steps with other goals will quickly find that you have overcome the obstacles associated with completing goals. Even if you have purposed to start a community project take on the smaller aspects of that goal until that project has come into being.
Finding the spice of life and looking forward to the future doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming. You can participate in proactive wellness through making a life list. You can overcome the obstacles that try to hinder progression towards reaching your goals. What will you do with your life? How do you want others to see your life? Will you have the courage to face your fears and reach your goals? Don’t wait! Start now and look toward the future.
Check out a new online resource for more on living with illness, from the voice of those going through it to the voice of those that shine inspiration into the hearts of others: Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog
“Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World” is the title of a newly published book by Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg Link.
This Wednesday, Covey joined MnDOT’s monthly Commissioner’s Reading Corner book discussion and talked with employees about trust building strategies via a video conference.
Building and increasing trust with the citizens of Minnesota is something MnDOT has been working on since the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007 and the current Commissioner Tom Sorel took the leadership position several months later in 2008.
In the book as well as in the discussion, Covey talks about five actions that produce Smart Trust:
- Choose to Believe in Trust
- Start With Self
- Declare Your Intent … and Assume Positive Intent in Others
- Do What You Say You’re Going to Do
- Lead Out in Extending Trust to Others
Covey is also the author of the popular book “The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything.”
In that book, Covey introduces the trust phenomenon across 5 waves. Understanding these 5 waves will enable you to behave in ways that establish trust and allow you to become a leader who gets results by inspiring trust in others.
- First Wave: Self Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is credibility.
- Second Wave: Relationship Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is consistent behavior.
- Third Wave: Organizational Trust. The key principle underlying this wave, alignment, helps leaders create organizational trust.
- Fourth Wave: Market Trust. The underlying principle behind this wave is reputation.
- Fifth Wave: Societal Trust. The principle underlying this wave is contribution.
Covey also identifies 13 behaviors that builds trust:
- Talk Straight
- Demonstrate Respect
- Create Transparency
- Right Wrongs
- Show Loyalty
- Deliver Results
- Get Better
- Confront Reality
- Clarify Expectations
- Practice Accountability
- Keep Commitments
- Listen First
- Extend Trust
Stephen M. R. Covey is the son of Stephen R. Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
“Business Is My Calling” is a 4-week study currently offered by the New Life Church in Woodbury to enhance leadership skills in the business world.
Today’s session, the third in the series led by Dave Seehusen and Dan Wiersum, was about how to balance living generously and leaving a financial and spiritual legacy.
For info about the study and the topics covered, visit New Life Church website.
I would like to share some of the things I learned at today’s presentation.
First, thank-you to Dave and Dan for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, and to the authors whose books are the foundation of the study, especially Ron Blue, author of twenty books on personal finance.
Why live generously?
God owns it all – Genesis 1:1
Matthew 6:19: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.”
Luke 16:11: “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
Why does God want us to give generously?
- To help the poor
- To the temple (building, repairing, maintaining)
- For the priests, ministers, His workers
Why do we give?
- To receive a tax deduction
- To feel good
- To move toward “Jesus’ level of generosity”
Leaving a Financial Legacy
(Adapted from Ron Blue’s book Splitting Heirs : Giving Your Money and Things to Your Children Without Ruining Their Lives)
Five Undeniable Truths:
- We will all die.
- We will take nothing with us.
- We will probably die at a time other than when we would like.
- Someone else will get our stuff.
- We can decide only before we die who gets our stuff after we die.
Wealth Transfer Decision-Making Process
Life Overview – The Why
- Take stock of your life
- Understand why God put you on earth
- Understand your unique design
- As a steward of all He has given you, how would He want you to use it?
Decision 1 – Transfer – To Whom
- The Treasure Principle: You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.
- The Unity Principle: Your spouse completes you, not competes with you.
- The Wisdom Principle: Transfer wisdom before wealth.
Decision 2 – Treatment – How Much
- The Uniqueness Principle: Love your children equally, and treat them uniquely.
Decision 3 – Timing – When
- The Kingdom Principle: Time your wealth transfer to maximize its use by you, your heirs and kingdom servants.
- The Givin’ While Livin’ Principle: Do your givin’ while you’re livin’ so you’re knowin’ where it’s goin’.
Decision 4 – Title – What
- The Stewardship Principle: God owns it all
Decision 5 – Tools & Techniques – How
- The Tools Principle: Estate planning tools & techniques help you accomplish objectives, but are not the objective.
- The Trust Principle: Never use a trust because of a lack of trust.
- The K.I.S.S. Principle: Keep it as simple as possible.
Decision 6 – Talk – Communicating the why, who, how much, when, what and how
- The Expectation Principle: Communicate to align expectations with plans.
Leaving a Spiritual Legacy
As Christians, we should share not just our wealth, but also our faith with our children, grandchildren, and others, in order to leave a lasting legacy.
The following letter that Dan wrote to his granddaughter is an example of passing on your faith and leaving a spiritual legacy to the next generations.
Letter and Hope Chest to My Grandchildren
by Dan Wiersum
April 13, 2011
My Dear Luka,
You are one year old today. I distinctly remember the call I received from your Dad a year ago telling us of your arrival. You were born a half a world away in Hawaii, so it was several weeks before your Grandma and I would see you. We couldn’t wait. What fun it was getting to know you, learning how to bounce you, watching you endure a bubble bath and taking you for walks on the island paradise where you lived.
Now, I am pleased to give you a hope chest I made just for you—a practice I do for each of our grandchildren on the occasion of their first birthday—to keep as a constant reminder of your Grandpa’s love and hopes for God’s best in your life.
Although your Grandma and I do not have great material wealth to give to you, we have something of great value to share with you—a spiritual legacy we’ve learned from our parents and received from God that lasts for eternity.
I want you to know that your Grandma and I have trusted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and we desire the same for you. We pray this prayer daily for you:
We pray for Luka today, O God, that you would fill her with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that she might live a life worthy of the Lord, and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to your glorious might, so that she might have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified her to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 2:9-14, paraphrased)
Luka, your hope chest will likely be filled with baby toys for awhile, then little girl dolls and soccer balls, and clothes, and items for when you marry, and sweaters, and blankets. Just know that whatever items you fill your hope chest with, that my heart always will be filled with love for you, hoping—and praying—for God’s best.
Your Grandpa Wiersum
I love to write. Writing is my passion. It’s fun for me.
In addition to writing this blog, I occasionally write for the MnDOT employee newsletter “Newsline.” I like to submit and contribute whenever I have a chance, even though I am not part of the communications staff who creates the online newsletter.
My latest contribution to today’s edition of Newsline (March 28, 2012)was about the Emerging Leaders Institute Class 2011-2012 Graduation Ceremony on March, 23, 2012. It took place at the historical James J. House on Summit Avenue in St. Paul:
I am also looking forward to the April 4th Commissioner’s Reading Corner book discussion with author Stephen M.R. Covey, who will join MnDOT via conference call to lead a discussion of his book “Smart Trust.” Covey will discuss trust building strategies and government trust.
The 2011-2012 U.S. Academic Triathlon Awards Ceremony of School District 833 was held today at Cottage Grove Middle School at 7 pm.
The cafeteria at Cottage Grove Middle School was packed with USAT participants and their families. Principals or their representatives from participating elementary and middle schools were present to honor the students from their own schools.
Academic Triathlon is an after school enrichment program offered to students in 5th-8th grade through the District’s Gifted & Talented Office. Laura Vogel from District’s Gifted and Talented Services presided over the awards ceremony. Superintendent Mark Porter was also present to offer his congratulations and to hand out medals to each student.
Every USAT participant received a customized medal. It has “2011-12 USAT” on the front and participant’s name and school on the back of the medal.
This year, District 833 had 29 teams of 5th-6th graders and 8 teams of 7th-8th graders with 189 students in total participating in the USAT.
There were 46 coaches who helped the teams practice weekly and organize the meets. They certainly deserve a lot of recognition. Without these parents serving as volunteer coaches, the program would not be possible.
Thanks to all the coaches, including my son’s coaches Todd Nelson, Jim Fenner, and my daughter’s coaches Donna Gilles and Milli Gupta for your hard work and efforts. Thanks also to Laura Vogel and her colleague from District G&T Services for coordinating the USAT program, and to all educators for your support.
My son’s team from Lake Middle School won the first place at the regional meet on 3/2/2012. My daughter’s team, also from Lake, did very well at the three practice meets, but got the second place at the regional meet. It was disappointing for the team that they didn’t advance to the state level.
What happens next is the first place team from each regional meet will go to the State Tournament to be held on Saturday, April 14 in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
Good luck to all the teams from our District that will go on to the state meet.
[Final presentation at Emerging Leaders Institute on 3/23/2012, Part.1]
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
This is a quote by John Quincy Adams, the 6th US President. I like it as a definition for leader.
I started working at MnDOT in 2000 as a technical services librarian. My job responsibility was cataloging, so I worked more with library materials than with people.
My work was detail-oriented and challenging in some way (technically and intellectually), but not stimulating and challenging for me, content-wise. I liked my job, however, cataloging reports about hot-mix asphalt, traffic flow, work zone safety, snow plow, pavements or bridges all day was not exciting and fulfilling.
I remember a former coworker, whose work was monotonous and not intellectually challenging, said more than once: “I come to work to relax, and I go home to work.” With two little kids at home, I also felt more relaxed at work than at home, like my co-worker.
For the first 7 years, I was more or less disengaged. With disengaged, I didn’t mean I didn’t do my job well. I was just not very interested in and involved with what was going on within the organization outside of my office, and with the leadership. I mostly just knew the people in my own office.
I had two commissioners during those 7 years who were not visible and engaged with employees, at least that was my impression. I hardly saw them and knew what they were doing.
Then on Aug. 1, 2007, the I-35W Bridge collapsed. MnDOT was in spotlight, in a bad way. A few months later, former MnDOT Commissioner Carol Molnau was ousted by the legislature. A new Commissioner came on board.
When I read the news and found out that the new Commissioner was a Woodbury resident, and his kid went to the same school as my two kids, I was curious and excited. At that time I was writing a weekly column for the local newspaper in Woodbury. I wanted to meet him and introduce him to the local community.
Commissioner Sorel accepted my invitation for an interview. I met with him, his wife and his son at Woodbury Central Park, and wrote an article about him for Woodbury Bulletin.
After Sorel became the Commissioner, he had a meeting with employees in the Central Office cafeteria. He introduced himself and his family. He talked about his leadership philosophy of servant leadership and shared his vision of rebuilding trust and being transparent with the public. He was a lot more personal, visible and transparent than the previous commissioners I knew.
When the new org chart came out with Sorel as the new commissioner, I noticed a change. Instead of having the commissioner on the top of the org chart, as we always had, he placed the citizens of Minnesota on the very top, followed by the governor, the commissioner was the third in command. It was a change that most people probably didn’t even notice. But it made a great impression on me. It showed humility in him.
A few months later on my birthday, I received an email from Commissioner Sorel wishing me happy birthday. It was a total surprise. Then I learned that every MnDOT employee received the happy birthday greeting on his/her special day. A simple act of kindness and thoughtfulness, it touched people. [TouchPoints – leadership moments]
When Sorel attended staff meetings, he often talked about and recommended books he read. I love reading and learning. An idea born at a staff meeting prompted my action.
In July 2009, I approached Commissioner Sorel to start a Commissioner’s Reading Corner book discussion program, he supported the idea.
In April 2010, MnDOT Commissioner’s Reading Corner officially started with Commissioner Sorel leading the first book discussion. Read the interview here.
The purpose of the monthly book discussion is to encourage learning and leadership development, to facilitate conversations between leaders and employees.
So in the last 3-4 years, because of one leader who inspired me personally, I became more engaged and involved. I sought out opportunities to contribute to the organization beyond my office and my regular job responsibilities.
In addition to the Commissioner’s Reading Corner, I was involved in organizing the brown bag learning and other health and wellness events at MnDOT. I also helped organize the first two Minnesota State Capitol Run @ Work Day 5K event in 2009 and 2010.
When I interviewed Admin Commissioner Spencer Cronk for ELI in Oct. 2011, I told him about MnDOT Commissioner’s Reading Corner. He became interested. A few months later, in Feb, 2012, he started a similar book discussion program called AdminReads. He emailed me and said: “Your work with the MnDOT Commissioner’s Reading Corner has inspired Admin to launch our own book club! Thanks for the great idea.”
I wanted to be a leader like Commissioner Sorel who inspires and transforms lives.
[Final presentation at Emerging Leaders Institute on 3/23/2012, Part.2]
The 30 C’s of Leadership is part 2 of the final presentation I did today for my completion of the Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) program which started in September 2011. It summarizes the lessons I have learned in the last few years through reading of leadership books, through attending ELI, through my observation of leaders I know or interviewed. The 30 C’s are listed in alphabetical order.
1. Can-do attitude – Whatever attitude a leader has will affect those that follow. Be positive and passionate. A can-do attitude brings positive energy and team spirit into the work place.
2. Celebration – Recognize and celebrate accomplishments and milestones. Work hard and play hard. It builds and strengthens relationships, lifts up spirit, provides a sense of pride and confidence. Dispense ARE (Recognition, Appreciation and Encouragement) generously. They make people feel more confident, motivated, and inspired.
3. Change – A leader is a change agent. He not just accepts and adapts to change, but also leads change. Change starts with YOU. All significant change begins with self-change. Be open-minded and have a zest for learning, growing and living. Develop resilience through physical, mental and emotional stretching.
4. Character – Character is the essence and core of the leader. Character is a choice, doing the right thing. It’s about integrity and intent. A leader is a person with character, has good moral values, does what’s right and act with integrity.
5. Charisma – Charisma is the ability to draw people to you, is the quality that makes people want to follow you.
“When it comes to charisma, the bottom line is other-mindedness. Leaders who think about others and their concerns before thinking of themselves exhibit charisma.” ~John C. Maxwell
6. Clarity – Have clear vision and purpose. Be clear about your expectations. If you want people to perform well, they need to be clear about their roles, responsibility, authority and accountability. Be transparent. Communicate in clear, simple and precise terms, so people can understand complex concepts.
7. Coaching – An effective leader invests in people and grows new leaders through coaching, mentoring, guiding, inspiring and empowering them. Give feedback promptly and effectively. Growing new leaders can have a lasting and transformative impact.
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -- Ralph Nader
8-9. Collaboration and Cooperation – Collaboration and cooperation create a team spirit. They provide a sense of ownership and empowerment.
10. Commitment – Commitment is persistence with a purpose, sticking to your beliefs and choices. Believe in something and follow through. Have a set of values, principles or beliefs and then faithfully adherent to those beliefs with your behavior. Commitment ignites action. It separates doers from dreamers. Commitment is one of the most important factors in success.
”Making commitment builds hope; keeping commitment builds trust.” – Roger Merrill
11. Communication – Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. Communication is not just what you say. It’s also how you say it. It involves the ability to speak and write well, the ability to translate your vision into actions, the ability to speak in a way that is well received as intended. The key to effective communication is simplicity.
12. Community – Encourage community building within and without the organization. What you do effects the larger community in which you work and live. Give back to the community when you can.
13. Competence – A competent leader knows what he/she is doing and selects people who know what they are doing. Doing the right thing the right way at the right time. It’s about your capabilities, talents, expertise, and track record of results. It involves both the intellectual and emotional components, the hard technical skills and the soft people skills.
14. Confidence - Believe in yourself and in others. Your confidence inspires others to follow you and believe in you. Have self-confidence with a healthy dose of humility. Have self-confidence and inner strength to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Finding and retaining the best and brightest people available requires confidence.
15. Conflict resolution – A leader must have the ability, courage and emotional maturity to effectively handle conflict and to talk openly about high-stakes, emotional and controversial topics in a respectful and positive way rather than avoiding it the problem. You can only resolve conflicts or differences if your relationship is grounded in mutual respect and trust.
16. Connection – Be connected with yourself and know who you are. Also connect with people and build relationships inside and outside of your organization. Connect with open and sincere communication. Know your people – speak to what they care about, ask about their dreams, find out about their histories.
“We are connected to everything else but ourselves. We have become a world of human doers having lost connection to our heritage as human beings.” — Kevin Cashman
17. Conscious awareness – Build awareness and have a deep understanding of yourselves and others. Know your strengths and weakness, observe yourselves through your own eyes and the eyes of others. Create an inventory about your strengths, talents, personality, values, developmental needs, achievements. Building awareness requires the willingness to take an honest look. Integrate more reflection & introspection into your life. Take time to reflect and to be. Reading, journaling, meditation, reflection, prayer, nature can bring awareness and positive energy to your life.
18. Consequence – Take total responsibility for yourself and for leading others, especially for failures. Accept consequences of your actions. Hold everyone accountable. This builds trust.
19-21. Consideration, Compassion and Caring – Hire the right people, train them, trust them, respect them, listen to them, appreciate and encourage them, try to know them and understand them at a deeper level, be there for them when needed. When you are considerate, compassionate and caring, you capture the heart, mind and soul of people. When you take care of your people, they will take care of your business.
22. Consistency – Say what you mean and do what you say. Treat people fairly and equally. Consistency and predictability provides safety and security and trust.
23. Core talents, values and purpose – A leader’s core talents, values and purpose must be aligned in order to have a fulfilling career and life.
What are your core talents, gifts and skills that distinguish you from others? What do you value and stand for as a person? What gives meaning to your life? What is the difference you want to make and what is the legacy you want to leave in this world? When you identify your core talents and your core values, and know how to use your gifts to serve the needs of others, you have your core purpose, your calling in life. If you ignore your core talents, values and purpose in life, no amount of external success can make you feel fulfilling and complete.
24. Courage – Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do or uncomfortable to do. Leaders often have to make tough, unpopular decisions and challenge traditions. It takes courage to accept new challenges and take risks. It takes courage to hear things that challenge your beliefs, ideas and decision. It takes courage to see, to acknowledge, and to embrace both the positive and negative aspects of who you are. It takes courage to hold yourself and other people accountable when something is wrong.
25. Creativity – is bringing into being of something which did not exist before, either as a thought, a product or a process. It is the ability to build something from nothing, see what nobody else has seen, think what nobody else has thought, do what nobody else has done. Creativity drives the success of your company and career.
26. Credibility – Credibility involves both character and competence. It is the foundation of trust, trust is the foundation of relationships. Leadership is relationship.
27. Credit – Give credit when credit is due. No one wants to follow someone who takes credit for success while blaming others for failure.
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie
28. Control – Have self-control and be able to control your emotions. But let go of the need to control and micromanage others.
29. Culture – Building a culture of openness, transparency, trust, innovation to allow ideas, thoughts and creativity to flow freely. Creating a culture of diversity and pride to foster loyalty and commitment and bring out the best in people.
30. Curiosity – Curiosity is the building block of creativity. Curiosity and creativity lead to innovation. Leaders are life-long learners. Keep learning, growing and improving.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy
Cultivating these 30 C’s of leadership is important in our journey to grow as a person and a leader. No one becomes a good leader in one day. It’s a slow learning process. Good leaders continue to learn and develop their skills.
Keep these 30 C’s of leadership in mind as we work on becoming better leaders every day.
Have you ever thought about the question, why people want to follow and work for or work with certain leaders/managers, but not others. I think one of the reasons lies in the difference between leadership and management.
Leadership and management are related and can overlap and complement each other. A good manager can be a good leader, and vice verso. But they are not the same. There is a difference. A good manager is not necessarily a good leader, and a good leader is not necessarily a good manager.
You can be someone without any leadership position and authority, but people still willingly follow you and want to work for you. Or you can be someone in a supervisory position, yet you don’t have any followers.
Admiral Grace Murray Hopper said: “You manage things; you lead people.” Management is about things, leadership is about people.
So what is the difference?
- The manager’s job is to manage work – to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to lead people – to inspire and motivate.
- The manager plans details. The leader sets direction.
- The manager wants power. The leader gives away power.
- The manager relies on control. The leader lets go of control and inspires trust.
- The manager appeals to your head. The leader wins your heart.
- The manager has subordinates. The leaders has followers.
- The manager administers. The leader innovates.
- The manager imitates. The leader originates.
- The manager maintains. The leader develops.
- The manager has a short-range view. The leader has a long-range perspective.
- The manager travels on existing roads. The leader explore new roads.
- The manager asks how and when. The leader asks what and why.
- The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line. The leader’s eye is on the horizon.
- The manager accepts the status quo. The leader challenges it.
- The manager takes credit. The leader gives credit.
- The manager operates out of fear and distrust. The leader operates out of confidence and trust.
- The manager brings transactional change. The leader brings transformational change.
- The manager does things right. The leader does the right thing.
People follow leaders who inspire and motivate, not managers who can only manage things.
If you want people to follow you, you have to inspire people, not manage people. You can’t manage people, you can only inspire people.
The weather we are having this week is unbelievable. It is still winter and spring will officially start next Tuesday, but it already feels like summer.
I had shorts and short sleeves today. I got a little sweaty when I took a walk in the afternoon. My son looked at the thermometer wondering if it’s time to turn on the air conditioner.
On Tuesday I composted all the food scraps I accumulated over the winter months, a ritual I do every year in spring.
Yesterday I plowed the garden and planted some vegetable seeds. I can’t wait for having my own vegetables from the garden. I hope for an earlier and longer growing season this year.
I am so thankful that we had a very mild winter this year. We hardly had snow in Twin Cities. This was really not a typical winter for Minnesotans. I think I only had to shovel snow twice. My 13 year-old Dodge Caravan survived another winter without any problem. I survived winter driving without any headache.
I am so glad winter is over and summer is here, at least I hope it will stay like this for a while.
Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury welcomes women in the community to attend the two day conference “Divine Destiny” with special speakers Kim Bassin (Women’s Ministry Leader, Lowell, MI), BreAnna Hedlund (Abundant Life Youth Pastor, Duluth, MN), Laura Henry (CAN National Women’s Ministry Director, Mesquite, TX).
The conference, sponsored by the Apostolic Christian Network and organized by Abundant Life Church in Duluth and Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury, will be held on Friday, March 23, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 24, 10 a.m. through lunch.
The cost is $35, including continental breakfast & lunch on Saturday.
Please register and pay online here.
Do you know that the two words, listen and silent, use the exact same letters?
I didn’t know it until today, and thought it’s either a clever design or an interesting coincidence.
Isn’t it true, in order to listen, we have to be silent?
When we listen to someone, often times we are not actually listening. Our mind is miles away, thinking about something else, or thinking about a response. We don’t pay close attention to what’s said. It shows in our body language – we are absent minded and restless, we don’t make eye contact, etc.
An important part of effective communication is good listening skills – attentive and active listening. Attentive and active listening requires that we give our full, undivided attention to the other person and quiet down our mind.
Be silent and listen attentively. If we can practice both at the same time, we will be better listener and communicator.
We live in a world filled with physical and mental noise that never eases, from the moment of waking up in the morning to the moment of falling asleep at night.
I remember one day while I was in the office, the power went off suddenly. I couldn’t believe how quiet and nice it felt without the background noise. I was so used to the background noise coming from the ventilation system, the clock, the computer and other electronic devices, I didn’t even notice the noise that surrounded me until it was gone all of a sudden.
In addition to the physical noise, we are also in a constant state of mental noise. Mental noise is the inner conversation or inner monologue that constantly goes on in our mind. The constant chatter of the mind never stops. The mind often repeats the same thought, usually a negative thought, over and over again. The mental noise steals our inner peace and joy.
How do we shut down the mental noise and calm and quiet your mind?
Be silent. Breathe consciously. Meditate. Go within.
In silence, we can listen and hear our inner voice, God’s voice and discover our true self.
Be silent and listen.
Today I went to R.H. Stafford Library with my daughter to meet the author Alice Ozma, whose book “The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We shared” was Washington County Library’s “One County, One Book” selection.
Alice talked about her book and answered questions from the audience.
My daughter asked me to buy her a copy. In return, I asked her to make her promise of reading the book and also writing her own book when she reaches Alice’s age (23).
I am very hopeful that she will keep her promise. So I am looking forward to the day when I will be sitting in the audience and watching my daughter talking about her book and singing her book. I will be the first one to ask her for an autograph
Yesterday I received an email at work from MnDOT (Minnesota Dept. of Transportation) Commissioner Tom Sorel, with the subject line “Greetings from the Commissioner.” It says:
Best wishes to you on your Birthday!
Hope you have a great day today, and every day in the year ahead.
I received the birthday wishes from the Commissioner, not because I am special. Every employee at MnDOT has been receiving the greetings on his/her birthday since Sorel became the Commissioner in 2008.
So this was nothing new to me and I was not surprised this time as I was the first time when I received the email.
I knew the message was sent out automatically by the computer and Commissioner Sorel didn’t actually write every single message once he had it all set up with the IT folks.
Still I was touched by the simple message every time I received it.
It reminded of the book I recently read about – TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments by Douglas R Conant and Mette Norgaard.
In the book the authors show that a leader’s impact is built through hundreds of small and ordinary moments in time. Developing “TouchPoint” mastery by focusing on three essential components: head, heart, and hands can transform individuals and organizations, one magical moment at a time.
This simple message of birthday greetings from the Commissioner is just that, a touch point, when you feel touched in your heart and mind.
It’s tax season. So tax is a hot topic of conversation.
Unlike most people, I don’t like tax refund. While most people are excited about getting their tax refunds every year, as if they win a lottery or get a gift from Uncle Sam, I am happier if I have to pay Uncle Sam every April.
Does it sound odd? Let me explain.
A tax refund is not a gift from Uncle Sam. You get a refund because you overpaid the tax in the previous year. You give money to the government for use at zero interest rate. Now you are getting your overpaid money back.
If you put your money in the bank, you expect to receive some interest in return. But if you give money to Uncle Sam, don’t expect to receive a penny of interest.
In addition, you don’t automatically get your money back. You have to file your tax return to ask for the money to be returned to you.
The average tax refund in the last two years is about $3000.
What can you do with the $3000 you give Uncle Sam for zero interest?
First, you can pay down debt, such as your credit card debt which usually have very high interest rate, your mortgage, or your car loan.
Second, you can put the money into savings to build up an emergency fund, while also earning some interest.
Third, you can invest the money for retirement or other long-term goals.
Whatever you do, your money is working for you every month instead of working for Uncle Sam.
The one argument I hear often for preferring a refund is: “If I receive the money in my regular pay check, I will just spend it.” Then have the money deducted automatically from your pay check and put it into a separate account.
When it comes to finance, we need some discipline, self-control and delayed gratification, in addition to some knowledge and common sense.
In the last 20 year of my filing tax returns, I rarely got a refund. I usually had to pay some federal and state taxes. My goal is not to get a big refund, but to have the smallest refund possible so I can keep more of my hard earned money for the year, or to pay the government, but not as much as I would have to pay a penalty.
If you have been getting a refund every year and want to reduce refund and increase your take-home pay, simply contact your payroll office to change your withholding and adjust your W-2, so less money is withheld each month for taxes.
Remember a tax refund is not a gift from Uncle Sam. It’s your money, and you should keep it.
For me, the hard part every year is not paying tax and writing the check to Uncle Sam, it is to get my act together and to actually file the tax return. Doing tax return is such a dreaded task, I often procrastinate it and wait till the last week or last weekend before the deadline. Since there is no incentive for me to file my tax return early, I will wait as long as possible before I have to write my check to Uncle Sam.
Friday, Feb. 24 was the last day of my Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) training with guest speakers. Dean Hyers and Pete Machalek from SagePresence did an interactive presentation on ”Enhancing Your Leadership Presence.”
“Save the best for last” was how I felt after the presentation. I really enjoyed it. I was captivated and engaged the whole day. What a treat and experience!
Among the 15 presentations with guest speakers we had over the course of the ELI training in the last six months, this presentation was probably my most favorite one. It’s one of the best, of not THE best.
Dean and Pete talked about how to master the art of presenting yourself and your ideas to audience through inspiring connections, compelling messages and dynamic delivery.
Developing the ability to forge powerful connections with people, designing compelling messages that lead your audience to where you want them to go, engaging them and retain their attention with reliable dynamism are crucial skills for leaders. Being an effective communicator and presenter is an integral part of being an effective leader.
Dean and Pete did an awesome job. I have learned a lot and have a lot to review, digest, and practice.
Today must be a day about reading.
On my way to work I listened to the Faith Radio Morning show with Ted Ross and Michelle Strombeck. It was an interview by Dr. Bill Maier with Pat Williams, Vice-President of the Orlando Magic about the life of Coach John Wooden and what we can all learn from his life.
Sport is not a subject I am interested in, but I listened to this interview with great interest, because Pat Williams was talking about the importance of reading in general and in Coach John Wooden’s life in particularly. One of John Wooden’s Seven Point Creed is “Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.”
John Wooden passed away in 2010 at the age o f 99.
Another interesting news I heard today was about the death of Berenstain Bears co-creator Jan Berenstain at the age of 88.
Jan and Stan Berenstain, the co-authors and co-illustrators of the Berenstain Bears, based their books on their children and grandchildren, created more than 300 titles. Their books have been released in 23 languages and some 260 million books have been sold.
I remember reading all the Berenstain Bears with my kids when they were little. We were excited every time we found a new title in the series. My kids and I all loved the Berenstain Bears books. They were our favorite children’s books.
Later on my way home I stopped at the library to pick up a book for my son. I also found a copy of the Washing County Library’s “One County, One Book” selection “The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We shared.” I had read about this book and wanted to read it.
So far I have only read one chapter. It has definitely inspired me to continue reading to my kids and renewed my commitment to reading.
I started reading to my kids when they were babies. We often went to the library to check out books. They got their own library cards when they were toddlers.
After they learned to read themselves, I don’t read to them any more except at night. My 13 and 12 year old kids still enjoy being read to before bedtime. Usually I spend 10-20 minutes reading a few Bible stories to them.
My promise from reading the Reading Promise is to keep reading to my kids as long as possible.
Spirit of Life Bible Church Pastor Frank Sanders, Jr. passed away on Feb. 17, 2012, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. I bid farewell to him this past weekend. What an amazing homegoing celebration I witnessed for Pastor Frank.
The visitation took place on Friday, Feb. 24, from 4-8 pm at Spirit of Life Bible Church. I went after work at 5 pm and was surprised to find so many people waiting in line. It took me one hour to go through the line. The visitation was extended for more than an hour.
I know all the church members from SOL, but over 90% of the people who came to the visitation were not church members, so I didn’t know the people who stood in line in front of or behind me. But we all had one thing in common. We were there to pay respect to the man whose life had impacted us one way or another.
The homegoing celebration was held on Saturday at 10 am at Apostolic Bible Institute. Over 1000 people attended the service. The auditorium was full. People from all walks of life came to celebrate and remember Pastor Frank. Among them were his childhood friends, his former Sunday school students, his hockey friends, his Olympic hockey team members, his former coworkers at AmeriPride, his church family from SOL and his extended family with three children and 10 grand kids, brothers and sisters and lots of relatives.
Pastor Frank’s children and friends shared memories and tributes that brought tears and laughter to the audience. His children and SOL worship team also shared several songs that were Pastor Frank’s favorites.
I have been to a few funeral/memorial services in the last few years, but I have never seen so many people at once. The fact that so many people came to his visitation and homegoing celebration speaks volumes for what a great man Pastor Frank was.
What impressed me the most was to see a couple of his friends back again after their last visits not long ago. Pastor James Larson from the Anchor Church in San Diego preached at SOL about a month ago. Pastor Al Gossan Jr. from Holland, Michigan visited SOL three weeks ago. Now they came again for the final farewell. What wonderful friends Pastor Frank had! These are only two I knew. I am sure there are some others I don’t know.
Pastor Frank passed away at the young age of 62. But he had lived a great life and had a great impacted on many people. He touched many lives he came in contact with while he was alive, now he continues to touch people in his death.
I bought a new Actiontec GT784WN modem last November at Best Buy. It worked fine for about two months. Then it stated to act up and I started to have problem with Internet connection and phone function (my phone is connected to the modem).
Initially when I lost the Internet connection, I just turned off the modem and turned it back on. It would solve the problem. But soon it got worse, and I had to turn the modem on and off or unplug the power more frequently every day. So I called the CenturyLink (used to be Qwest) customer service to find out if there was anything wrong with the line and to get help. I called three times on three consecutive days. They checked on their end and found nothing wrong with the line. They asked me to perform certain tasks, in hope to solve the problem. It looked promising, but a day later, I still had the same problem, only worse. After the third call, I was told the problem was mostly likely caused by the defect modem. I needed to get a new one. The next day, the modem was totally kaput and I couldn’t resurrected it no matter how many times I unplug the power cord.
Every time I call customer services, I like to ask people where they are located, out of curiosity. So when I called the CenturyLink customer services, I asked the same question to all three reps I talked to. I got the same response: “Philippines.”
I was a little surprised as I was used to the idea of most offshore call centers being located in India. This was my first time talking to a customer service rep in Philippines. Now I can see why this is also a popular offshore destination.
English is an official language in the Philippines. Filipinos speak English with no accent. When I talked to the three reps, I couldn’t tell that they are not Americans. Had I not asked them, I could easily mistake them for Americans located not far from me, somewhere in the States.
The day my modem died, I took it back to Best Buy. I was able to exchange the old one for a new one. Now my Internet and phone are both working well. I am happy that the connection problem was finally fixed.
Our world is definitely getting flat and smaller. Nowadays, when I pick up the phone to call customer services, the person who answers the call is likely half the world away, yet it feels like home.
I was grateful that I received great customer services from both companies, near and far. For me, it doesn’t really matter where the reps and call centers are located, locally or globally. As long as I get good service and the help I need, I am happy.
Dear Pastor Frank,
I am very saddened by the news that you have left us today at 3:55 pm. I missed you for the last three Sundays and will miss you in the days to come.
I am glad I got to know you at Spirit of Life Bible Church and had you as my pastor for the last 7 years. I loved listening to your preaching. Your passion for God and your love for people came through in all your sermons. I will miss your preaching.
I am glad you shared your life story in the book From Silver to Gold : One Man’s Pursuit of the Ultimate Prize and left us something to treasure and wonderful memories to carry within us. I am glad I read your book and was able to share a few thoughts with you just a few days ago.
I feel relieved that you no longer have to suffer the physical pain and you are in a better place now. You are home now with your beloved parents and your heavenly Father.
I know I will see you again someday. Till then, please let me hear from you sometimes, someway, somehow.
With tears and love,
Rev. Franklynn Bonn Sanders, Jr.
(March 8, 1949 – February 17, 2012)
Pastor of Spirit of Life Bible Church. Age 62 of Woodbury, MN. Formerly of Oakdale, MN. Loving husband, father and grandfather. After a heroic fight, Frank passed away from pancreatic cancer, on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 at home surrounded by his wife and kids. Preceded in death by father, Franklynn, Sr., mother, Cecilia and infant son. Survived by wife, Kathy, children, Timothy (Tricia), Jennifer (James) Mains and Jeremy (Lana); grandchildren, Owen and Declynn Sanders, Haley, Ayden, Charlie and Benjamin Mains, Jacob, Brennen, Caleb and Keegan Sanders; brother, Allen (Nancy) Olsen; sisters, Lillian (Gary) Weisbrod, Bonnie Weisbrod and Rebecca (James) Payzant; many nieces, nephews and countless friends, family and the church family of Spirit of Life Bible Church. Former hockey standout and North St. Paul High School Distinguished Alumni, University of MN Gopher, Minnesota Fighting Saint and US Olympian hockey player. Pastor of Spirit of Life Bible Church, Woodbury, MN. Retired Service Manager, AmeriPride Services. Visitation Friday (Feb. 24, 2012) from 4-8 PM at Spirit of Life Bible Church, 690 Commerce Drive, Woodbury. Funeral Saturday Feb. 25, 2012 at 10:00 AM (Visitation from 9-10 AM) at APOSTOLIC BIBLE INSTITUTE, 6944 Hudson Blvd, Oakdale. Interment Forest Lawn Cemetery. We greatly appreciate the love and care Frank received from Dr. Quevedo, Mayo Clinic; Mark and Chris, Woodwinds Cancer Center and Jill from HealthEast Hospice. Thank You!
When I wrote the post The Top 20 Bad Leadership Traits last May, I simply put together a list of 20 attributes that make a bad leader.
The idea for the post was floating through my mind for a few days and won’t go away. So I did spend quite some time thinking about it, but not much time writing it. It is definitely not the best post I have ever written. I would have never thought that it would become the most popular post on my blog.
Almost every day now, this post is the most viewed one among the 600 plus posts I have written since Nov. 2009. That is very surprising to me.
Here are some of the commonly used search terms that bring readers to my post:
- characteristics of a bad leader
- bad characteristics of a leader
- qualities of a bad leader
- qualities of bad leaders
- bad qualities of a leader
- traits of a bad leader
- bad leadership qualities
- bad leadership traits
- bad leadership skills
- bad qualities in a leader
- bad qualities leadership
- qualities that make a bad leader
As you can tell, the search terms used are very similar.
I can’t imagine someone would think, “I am a bad leader and I want to find out what makes a bad leader like me.”
Most likely, the readers who have landed on my post are the ones who are dealing with someone who is not a good leader.
We have so many books on good leadership and what makes good leaders. Yet, from what I can tell through my blog, so many people are interested in the opposite, the bad leadership and what makes bad leaders.
Of the many posts I have written that are related to leadership, The Top 20 Bad Leadership Traits is the only one on bad leadership. And it’s the most popular one. This is quite a telling story in my mind.
Do we have more bad or not so good leaders than good leaders? Do we have more leaders who are discouraging or disappointing than leaders who are encouraging and inspiring? I hope the answer is no.
It could be that only the people who have issues with their leaders in the organization would take the time to research and read about it, and the people who are happy with their leaders won’t need to bother with it.
Whatever the reason, it’s an interesting thing for me to observe and think about.
Resilience is the ability to recover or bounce back quickly from illness, change, or misfortune. It is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity and tragedy, such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial problems.
The topic of resilience has come up a lot lately. I have read articles and attended meetings on how to build resilience in uncertain and difficult times.
What are the signs of resilience? And what are the signs of lack of resilience?
I found a good answer in the book “Leadership from Inside Out” by Kevin Cashman.
The following lists come from the book, with a few additions from me.
Signs of resilience
- Abundant energy
- Ability to focus deeply
- Ability to change and adapt
- Ability to manage strong feeling, emotions and impulses
- problem-solving skills
- Internally driven motivation
- Optimism and confidence
- Strong relationships and social network
- Creativity and innovation
- Vitality and enthusiasm
- Healthy lifestyle
- Little or no usage of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol
- Achievement with ease
- Optimal productivity
- Feeling “on the top of” situations
Signs of lack of resilience
- Nervous, manic energy
- Wandering, unfocused mind
- Externally driven motivation
- Strain in relationships
- Dullness, lack of inspiration
- Depression and fatigue
- Regular usage of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol
- Achievement via strain and effort
- Less than optimal productivity
- Feeling “overshadowed” by situations
Last Friday I had the great pleasure interviewing Patrick Coleman, Head of Acquisitions at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS).
For people who are familiar with Minnesota and St. Paul politics, Coleman is a well-known name. Pat Coleman comes from that prominent family in St. Paul. His father was the former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Nick D. Coleman, and served as senator from Ramsey County from 1963-1979.
His older brother is the political columnist Nick J. Coleman. His second youngest brother is the current St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. His other siblings include Maureen (died 55 years ago at age 2), Brendan (lives in Prague), Meghan (Doctor of Chiropractic in Mankato, MN), and Emmett Coleman (Comcast Vice President).
I first met Coleman last year while working on a digitization project for MnDOT Library, funded by the Minnesota Digital Library. Coleman shared resources from the MHS Library collection that I needed for the project. We met a couple of times and had interesting conversations about books, politics and his family.
Coleman is one of those few people I have met in life who emanate positive energy, who have a big heart and a gentle soul. I do not necessarily know them well, but the first impression and my intuitive sense tell me there is something special about them. Coleman is definitely a gentleman.
Last month when I was looking for someone to do a leadership interview for my Emerging Leaders Institute assignment, Coleman came to my mind. When I contacted him, he happily agreed to meet with me. I was so thankful that he took time from his very busy schedule to do the interview.
So last Friday, over a cup of coffee, he answered my questions and shared his background, his experience and his leadership lessons with me.
Because of Coleman’s unique family background, I had to start with a couple of unique questions that I don’t ask other interviewees.
“Are leaders born or learned? How much does nature or nurture play a role in becoming a leader?”
“It’s a combination of both,” says Coleman.
Coleman is the second of seven children in the family. As a kid, Coleman spent more time than any of his siblings at the Capitol listening to his father and other politicians debating. However, instead of following his father’s footstep and becoming a politician, Coleman is more attracted to the world of books, literature (especially Irish literature), Minnesota history and nature. His brother Chris has the natural talent to be a leader. He speaks well in public, connects easily with people and makes them feel heard and understood. He makes tough decisions. Making tough decisions that do not make everyone happy is the hardest part of being a leader for Coleman.
Growing up in a family with members well known in the community has its blessings and also challenges.
“Obviously there are a lot of opportunities, such as meeting with political figures, getting to know a lot of people. But there are also challenges. People have higher expectation of you and make assumptions and judgment about you. You are expected to do well and behave a certain way.”
When I asked Coleman whom he admired as a leader and who has inspired him to become a leader, he introduced me to a few people – Kathleen Vellenga, Peter Magrath, Nina M. Archabal, and Peter D. Pearson.
The first person Coleman mentioned was former state Rep. Kathleen Vellenga, “She got a lot done, with a big heart.” Kathy was a house representative from Ramsey County and served seven terms from 1981 to 1993. Coleman managed several election campaigns for Kathy, “a great person and a great leader.”
Peter Magrath is a higher education administrator who has served as president at multiple American universities. He was the eleventh president of the University of Minnesota, serving from 1974 to 1984, when Coleman’s father was the Minnesota Senate Majority Leader. Later Magrath married Coleman’s stepmother, Deborah Howell, who was an editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Washington Post. In January 2010, while the couple was vacationing in New Zealand, Howell was hit by a car and died tragically. Magrath is a family friend and has become a father figure to Coleman. “When I have questions and need someone to talk to, I go to Peter.”
Nina M. Archabal, who served the Minnesota Historical Society for 33 years and 23 years as its director, was a great leader in good times and bad times. She experienced rapid growth and financial hardship during her long career at MHS and had to make some tough decisions. “She handled it well.”
Peter D. Pearson, president of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, is another inspiration for Coleman. “Pearson helps make The Friends a nationally recognized, award-winning organization, the best of the kind in the nation.”
“What are the most critical attributes to successful leadership?”
Coleman says leaders need to have abundant energy. They have to believe, to really care about what they believe, are engaged and involved with passion and energy. Peter Magrath is such a person with a lot of energy.
Successful leaders are smart and competent. They constantly challenge themselves and look for opportunities to change, to grow and to contribute.
“What challenges do you see that leaders face in government?”
Coleman says the main challenge is money and economy. The second is communication. In the old days, legislators used to fight on the floor, but they would go out for lunch together and still be good friends, despite their different points of view and personal beliefs. Now politicians demonize each other and say all bad things about each other. This prevents them from working together effectively and moving forward.
For someone like Coleman who started handing out campaign literature at the tender age of four, being civically engaged is an important responsibility of every citizen. “I can’t imagine not going to vote and not being an active member of the local community.”
In response to my question about his experience as a leader, Coleman says humbly: “I don’t feel like a leader.”
Even though Coleman does not officially hold any prominent title like some of his family members do, he is a leader in his own right.
Coleman is involved in the following non-profit organizations on the board of directors.
- Minnesota Center for Book Arts
- Coffee House Press
- Vinland National Center (a non-profit organization for helping people with disabilities)
- The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library (on Advocacy Committee)
Currently, Coleman is enrolled in the spring 2012 class of Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program at Georgetown University in DC. It’s a leadership development program designed for leaders working in nonprofit sector. Once a month he flies to DC and stays there for three days to attend classes. It’s an intensive program, with attendees from around the country and a few from other countries.
“I am the oldest student in the class,” Coleman says. Some people think he is crazy. At age 58, it’s time to take it easy and enjoy life, but instead he has taken on more challenges, while paying everything himself, including tuition, flight and hotel. “It’s never too late to learn.” I can’t agree more with him.
“What are some of the most important lessons you have learned as a leader?”
“To be a leader, you have to be willing to get involved in things that will positively affect your community, impact the world or make a difference in someone’s life.” Coleman adds. “Knowledge is power. Continuing learning and challenging yourself is one key factor in your ongoing development as a leader.”
Coleman has a big heart for books and nonprofit. He still wants to do more and better at an age when most people are thinking about working less or even retirement. I admire his youthful energy and his desire for making a difference.
Not surprisingly, one of the proudest accomplishments in Coleman’s life has something to do with books. He played an important role in saving the Minnesota Book Awards from disappearing.
The Minnesota Book Awards was created over two decades ago by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. Over the years it was led by several different organizations, at one time by the Minnesota Center for the Book. In 2000, due to financial crisis, the Minnesota Book Awards could not be sustained. At the time, Coleman was serving on the Minnesota Humanities Commission board. He shepherd the Minnesota Book Awards over to the Minnesota Humanities Commission for a few years. Eventually the Awards returned to its original home with the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.
In 2009, Coleman was honored with the Kay Sexton Award for his contributions to the state’s book community.
Coleman has been an acquisitions librarian at MHS for 33 years. What’s his favorite part of the job?
“Spending money and buying hard to find books that add value to our collection.”
If anyone wants to donate to the MHS to help preserve Minnesota history, Coleman would be happy to hear from you.
Coleman shares his love for Minnesota’s history and books through his blog 150 Best Minnesota Books. He is compiling a list of the 150 best books in Minnesota.
I got teary-eyed reading the latest update about my pastor Frank Sanders, Jr. on his CaringBridge website. His daughter Jen does a fabulous job writing the updates. She can make me laugh or cry almost every time I read her update. Today is no exception.
Recently I read Pastor Frank’s autobiography “From Silver to Gold.” I was deeply touched by his life story.
The following is what I wrote to him on his CaringBridge website today after reading the latest update about his health.
Dear Pastor Frank,
I loved reading your book. You and Tony did a great job. I am so glad you were able to finish writing the book and to share your life story with us.
You are a hero to many people, not because you were a great hockey player, but because you are a great man of God, a great youth minister, a great pastor, a great friend to many. With a big heart and a gentle soul, you have touched and changed many lives. Though your path from silver to gold was filled with difficulties and challenges along the way, you made the right choice by following God’s calling on your life and living the purpose God has for you. I admire your obedience and faithfulness. Your life is truly an inspiration.
You chose the right path. You did well and finished well. I think God is looking down on you and telling you: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I only wish there were more pages in the book because I wanted to continue reading. I am sure you have more stories to tell and more testimonies to be included. I would love to read a new and expanded edition. Your kids, especially Jen, are great storytellers and writers themselves. I am sure you can work together and add more stories to the book.
Thanks for writing and sharing your life story. You will always live in my heart.
I was thinking about going to the public library tomorrow afternoon to return a book and check out this year’s One County, One Book selection The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma.
I went to the library website to read about the book and was reminded that, due to budget cut, all Washington County Branch Libraries are now closed on Sundays and Mondays, effective Jan. 3, 2012. For more info, read the notice.
My kids and I had often visited the Woodbury Branch on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes we eagerly waited for the door to open at 1 pm. We enjoyed our library visits on Sunday afternoons. Instead of rushing in and out of the library on our way to some other places on other days, Sunday afternoon was a time for taking it slow and relaxation.
Nowadays my kids read more eBooks on their iPad. They download eBooks from the library. I have been reading more books checked out from my own library where I work. So our Sunday afternoon visits to the Woodbury Branch to get print books are not as frequent as it used to be.
The reminder that the library is no longer open on Sundays and Mondays still felt like a big loss to me. It’s a loss for the community, especially for people who love reading and books, and for people who need to use the computers or other resources in the library.
Having the library closed on two consecutive days makes it even worse.
In winter when it is cold outside and there is not much to do, library is a cozy and great place to go, for everyone, from the young to the old. It’s too bad that all our branches in Washington County have to be closed on Sundays and Mondays.
I learned from my daughter that there is a different, an Asian interpretation of the American grading scale.
For American parents:
- A=Awesome (You’re doing great. Keep up the good work!)
- B=Above average (You’re still doing good, but you can do better)
- C=Average (You could be doing better, but it’s acceptable)
- D=Below average (You need to try harder to make it up)
- F=Failed (Well, you failed. Hopefully you can get a better grade later so you can pass)
For Asian parents:
- A=Average (Acceptable, anything below that is unacceptable, but you can still do better and get an A+)
- B=Bad (You are already at a below average because all the other Asians are getting A’s)
- C=Crap/Crushed/ (You are doing terrible)
- D=Death (I am going to kill you)
- F= N/A (You can’t get an F because you are already dead)
There is some truth to it. The first time I heard my daughter saying it, it stopped me for a second to think about it.
Whenever I question my daughter about her grades, she reminds me of the different interpretation of the grading scale for American and Asian parents.
“It’s bad for you, but it’s still good for American parents.” She tries to put things in perspective.
Luckily, my daughter usually gets good grades, so I rarely question and worry about her grades.
“塞翁失馬，焉知非福” is a popular Chinese proverb. According to Wiktionary, it literally means: “When the old man from the frontier lost his horse, how could one have known that it would not be fortuitous?”
A common English translation is “A setback may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.”
Here is further explanation of the story behind the proverb:
It can be difficult to foresee the twists and turns which compel misfortune to beget fortune, and vice versa. There once was a (father), skilled in divination, who lived close to the frontier (with his son). One of his horses accidentally strayed into the lands of the Xiongnu, so everyone consoled him. (But) the father said, “Why should I hastily (conclude) that this is not fortunate?” After several months, the horse came back from the land of the Xiongnu, accompanied by another stallion, so everyone congratulated him. (But) the father said, “Why should I hastily (conclude) that this can not be unfortunate?” His family had a wealth of fine horses, and his son loved riding them. One day (the son) fell off a horse, and broke his leg, so everyone consoled (the father). (But) the father said, “Why should I hastily (conclude) that this is not fortunate?” One year later, the Xiongnu invaded the frontier, and all able-bodied men took up arms and went to war. Of the men from the frontier (who volunteered), nine out of ten men perished (from the fighting). It was only because of (the son’s) broken leg, that the father and son were spared (this tragedy). Therefore misfortune begets fortune, and fortune begets misfortune. This goes on without end, and its depths can not be measured.
Lately I have been thinking about this Chinese proverb a lot.
When life is nice and easy, we tend to become comfortable and complacent. We go through our daily life without much thinking and reflecting. We like routines and don’t want any change. But when life throws some challenges and problems at us, we stop and think. We take actions and make change, because we have to deal with the challenges and problems. We have no choice.
Change can be a good thing. Often times it is.
If you are experiencing any loss, challenges and problems in life, please think about this proverb and the story. Remember, a bad thing can turn out to be a good thing in the end. You just never know.
With their songs and testimonies of overcoming personal challenges and abdictions and finding a new life in Jesus Christ, they touched and blessed the congregation.
A few days later, the congregation was once again touched and blessed, by a letter sent by the mother of one of the Teen Challenge students who visited Spirit of Life Bible Church on that day. She came from South Dakota and attended the Sunday service with her son.
With her permission, I want to share her letter to Spirit of Life Bible Church:
“I am the mother of Patrick who is a student at Teen Challenge in Minnesota. My husband and I live in South Dakota, and attended your worship service the weekend that you hosted the members of Teen Challenge. I wanted to express my deepest and most sincere thank you for welcoming those young men and for the prayers and petitions you put forth for them.
I can say without reservation that I, myself, have never felt more welcome upon entering a congregation. Your members exude a joy and love that permeates the very walls of your church. In particular, Cheryl, whom I sat by during the service, has that joy and love for our Lord, Jesus Christ, through her welcoming smile and gentle spirit. She lifted the parents of the Teen Challenge students in prayer and held my hand. I have never cried during a service before, but just could not hold back the tears because the struggles go beyond those in addiction to their families and friends. Many times it is easier to place blame and say to just give up the addiction or give up on the one you love and I was one of those who used to think and do the same until my son started using. But that message did not come through at Spirit of Life. Instead, it was a message of hope and love and prayer for those who are struggling – students and families alike. A young mother in front of me also turned around and hugged me, crying and praying for us all. Again, my tears did not stop and I believe they were tears of healing.
So, once again, thank you for that weekend for our sons and brothers. May God richly bless your ministry and members. Please give them my utomost thanks.”
I wish the best for these young men who touched me and blessed me with their presence and stories, and also for their families who stand by them, support them and love them, like this mother did.
Blessings also to the Minnesota Teen Challenge for helping the young people who need help.
Below is an interview I did in January 2012 with Fay Simer, Senior Transportation Planner at MnDOT, about the 19th book in the Commissioner’s Reading Corner Book of the Month series: Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders by Alice Eagly and Linda Carli.
Tang: What motivated you to step up and want to lead this book discussion?
Simer: I think the topic of how women become leaders is relevant, particularly in the transportation industry, a field traditionally dominated by men. I saw the topic had not yet been brought up as part of the Commissioner’s Reader Corner and I thought this book could add something to the discussion series.
Tang: Why did you pick this book?
Simer: Many authors on the topic of women’s advancement essentially tell women that they either need to behave “more like men,” i.e., more aggressively, or “more like women,” i.e., more collaboratively. Through the Labyrinth stood out to me because it discusses the merits of different leadership styles and helps readers understand how their application in different professional settings is typically perceived by others.
Tang: What do you like most about this book?
Simer: The authors identify building social capital as an essential tool used by women who have achieved notable professional success. As a board member of the Women’s Transportation Seminar in Minnesota, a professional organization with a mission to advance women in the transportation field, this book validates my belief in our work and the relevance of the group’s mission.
Tang: Traditionally, the biggest problem women face in their careers is a glass-ceiling in leadership positions. Nowadays, more women are in leadership positions. However, female leaders still face more obstacles and challenges than their male counterparts. What kinds of issues do women leaders have to struggle with today?
The book confirms that many of the usual suspects still contribute to the “labyrinth” of obstacles women face in their climb to the top. Married women still spend more hours per week on household chores and child-rearing than married men (though men’s participation is increasing steadily); women still face stereotypes regarding what behaviors and attitudes are appropriate for their gender, and many organizational cultures do not support women seeking leadership experience. The point is that there is no clear path for a woman seeking to attain the top of her field; many women negotiate these barriers on their own. Discussing these barriers openly will help us learn how to better support women collectively as they advance in their careers.
Tang: You have taken on a leadership role with the Minnesota Women’s Transportation Seminar. What kind of dilemma and obstacles have you experienced as an emerging women leader?
Simer: I am the type of person that needs to be challenged and I like pushing myself in different directions. One of the things I appreciate about my board position on the Women’s Transportation Seminar is the opportunity to take on roles that aren’t part of my job description at MnDOT. Whether I’m organizing an event, leading other volunteers, or setting the board’s initiatives for the year, I like the chance to be creative and to push myself to try different aspects of leadership activities that are new to me.
Tang: The authors say, to increase gender equality in the workplace, change must take place on four levels: the culture, the organization, the family and the individual. What can MnDOT and what can individuals do to improve our workplace for women leaders?
Simer: The book points out that an organization’s social culture can obstruct women’s access to advancement opportunities as much as individual prejudices. The authors note that demands for long work hours, travel, and the ability to relocate- necessities in many managerial positions, can be especially difficult for women, who typically have more household obligations than men. In addition, the book notes that women face challenges obtaining appropriately demanding work assignments, called developmental job experiences that are prerequisites for promotion. I think these are areas that leaders at MnDOT could take a closer look as they determine how to distribute advancement opportunities equitably across the organization.
Tang: What are the most important lessons you have learned from the book? What are the most important ideas you would like people to take away from this book?
Simer: Studies on corporate executives and boards of directors in US firms find that the inclusion of women is associated with stronger financial performance. Young men entering the workforce are more likely to question why they don’t see women in managerial positions than why they do. Promoting parity among women and men’s leadership opportunities is an organizational concern, not a “women’s” concern.
Tang: What lessons have you learned in your career that you would like to share with other women and would benefit other women to become more successful leaders?
Simer: I place great value on the relationships I’ve had with mentors throughout my career development. My advice is to seek out people with qualities you admire and to learn as much from their leadership style as you can.
Tang: Tell us a little bit about your reading habits.
Simer: I love reading! For anyone interested in an honest and insightful account of one woman’s rise to the top of her field, I highly recommend Katherine Graham’s Personal History.
Below is an interview I did in December 2011 with Eric Davis, Enterprise Risk Management Project Manager (He was MnDOT Human Resources Director at the time) about the 18th book in the Commissioner’s Reading Corner Book of the Month series: The Power of Full Engagement : Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
Tang: Why did you pick this book?
Davis: In the first chapter, the authors ask their readers “If you could wake up tomorrow with significantly more positive, focused energy to invest at work and with your family, how significantly would that change your life for the better? As a leader, how valuable would it be to bring more positive energy and passion to the workplace? If those you lead could call on more positive energy, how would it affect their relationships with one another, and the quality of service that they deliver to customers and clients?”
There is so very much competing for our time, attention and energy. Feeling starved for time, we assume we have no choice but to try and cram as much as possible into every day. But as the authors point out, managing our time efficiently is no guarantee that we will bring sufficient energy to whatever it is we are doing. The authors assert that “energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
Tang: What do you like most about this book?
Davis: The book offers a number of case studies and a few were uncomfortably familiar. I recognized in myself many of the same destructive habits that may have allowed me to meet some short-term goals, but risked my long-term health and most important relationship. I took some inspiration from these stories and applied the author’s principles for key energy management principles. Although I can’t claim to habitually renew my energy in all four dimensions of life (physical, spiritual, mental, emotional) as the authors advise, I do generally recognize when my engagement and energy predictably falters and know I need to make energy renewal a priority.
Tang: Recently the Office of Human Resources has been conducting an Employee Engagement Survey agency-wide, one division at a time. Is this the first time MnDOT has done such a survey? What do you try to get out of the survey and what do you plan to do with the result?
Davis: No. There was a department-wide, comprehensive attempt to assess employee satisfaction and engagement in the 90s. Unfortunately, the results were not very actionable and it was difficult to respond to identified concerns. The approach of using a limited set of questions focused on actionable items known to influence an employee’s engagement and conducting the survey in divisions of the agency allows leaders to more effectively respond to what we learn from the survey. In that sense, I think what we are doing now is more valuable and effective.
Tang: Is there anything from the book you learned that has been helpful in this survey effort?
Davis: The authors write “Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy – in companies, organizations and even in families. They inspire or demoralize others first by how effectively they manage their own energy and next by how well they mobilize, focus, invest and renew the collective energy of those they lead.”
The survey gives MnDOT leaders some valuable insight into what employees believe about their own experience and the opportunity to better influence engagement.
Tang: The book mentions a Gallup poll showing that less than 30 percent of American workers are “fully engaged,” 55 percent are “not engaged” and 19 percent are ”actively disengaged.” How engaged are MnDOT employees based on our Employee Engagement Survey result so far?
Davis: So far, the survey suggests the majority of MnDOT employees are highly engaged. In general, the majority of MnDOT employees report they understand what is expected of them at work, have access to the necessary tools and resources to do their work, understand how their job makes a difference and are willing to give their very best efforts to get a quality job done. Perhaps one of the most encouraging things we’ve learned from our survey is how nearly every MnDOT employee takes tremendous pride in serving the public. Despite the public and political discourse that at times can be very hostile to public employees, MnDOT employees have sustained a strong sense of pride in the service they provide to the public.
Tang: What does it mean to be fully engaged?
Davis: To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritual aligned with a purpose greater than our immediate self-interest. As the authors explain, “It means being able to immerse yourself in the mission you are on, whether that is grappling with a creative challenge at work, managing a group of people on a project, spending time with loved ones or simply having fun.”
Tang: What are the core principles of full engagement?
Davis: The authors explain full engagement requires:
(1) Our ability to draw on four related sources of energy, our physical capacity, our emotional capacity, our mental capacity and our spiritual capacity. Peak performance under pressure is achieved when all levels are working together.
(2) Our ability to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse.
(3) Our ability to push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic what that elite athletes train.
(4) Our ability to incorporate positive energy rituals – highly specific routines for managing and renewing our energy for sustained high performance.
Tang: What can you as the HR director (Or What can MnDOT) do to help employee become more or fully engaged physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually?
Davis: As leaders we need to model and encourage everyone we work with to recognize and act on the wisdom of occasionally “stepping off the endless treadmill of deadlines and obligations” to take time for our reflection and renewal. Emails, cell-phones, and the like can easily addict us to the urgent and now and fill us with an inclination to live our lives in a perpetual state of crisis management. However, sustained high performance depends as much on how we renew and recover energy in these four dimensions of our lives as how we expend it. When leaders attend to the well-being of employees and people feel strong and resilient, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritual, they perform better. They win, their families win, our communities win, and MnDOT wins.
Tang: What are the most important lessons you have learned from the book? What are the most important ideas you would like people to take away from this book?
Davis: Stress is not necessarily the problem, nor is the quantity of time available to us. “The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quality of energy available to us is not.” As the authors succinctly assert, “Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.” While in our lifetime there will undeniably be real life crises and tragedies, difficult relationships, toxic environments, but we often have more control over our energy that we ordinarily realize. “The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become,” Loehr and Schwartz.
Tang: Please share some quotes from the book that are very meaningful for you.
Davis: “Most of us are just trying to do the best that we can. When demand exceeds our capacity, we begin to make expedient choices that get us through our days and nights, but take a toll over time. We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, fuel up with coffee and cool down with alcohol. Faced with relentless demands at work, we become short-tempered and easily distracted. We return home from long days at work feeling exhausted and often experience our families not as a source of joy and renewal, but as one more demand in an already overburdened life.”
“Will and discipline are far more limited resources than most of us realize. If you have to think about something each time you do it, the likelihood is that won’t keep doing it for very long. The status quo has a magnetic pull on us.”
“While it isn’t always in our power to change our external conditions, we can train to better manage our inner state. We aim to help corporate athletes use the full range of their capacities to thrive in the most difficult circumstances and to emerge from stressful periods stronger, healthier, and eager for the next challenge.”
Tang: Tell us a little bit about your reading habits.
Davis: I often find I’m reading more than one book at a time and would like to cultivate a habit of just reading one book at a time so I can enjoy and learn from the book better. I permit myself to divide my attention a bit too thin. Riding the bus for my morning and evening commute is the best time for me to read. I like to have a book to read for my education and development in the morning and something strictly for fun and enjoyment after work.
Below is an interniew I did on Sept. 29, 2011 with Tiana Carretta, Commissioner’s Office Intern & Building Services Intern. We talked about the 15th book in the Commissioner’s Reading Corner Book of the Month series: Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity by Josh Linkner.
Tang: Most people at MnDOT don’t know you. Before we talk about the book, would you please share a little bit about your background?
Carretta: I started at MnDOT in May 2009 at the Maplewood Lab where I also worked at the MnROAD Facility. I came to the Commissioner’s Office in June2010. In August, I started an architecture internship in the Building Services Dept. I am currently working part-time in both the Commissioner’s Office and in Maintenance. I am finishing up my last semester in the Architecture Program at the University of Minnesota and will be graduating this December.
Tang: You participated in our March book discussion on Millennials and the different generations in the workplace. How is your experience of working at MnDOT as a Millennial?
Carretta: I think one of the best things about MnDOT is that there is an array of different generations that are all working together to make MnDOT a world class organization. I think every generation has a different way of working and I’ve had a great experience learning from both seasoned and newer employees.
Tang: Why did you pick this book?
Carretta: Commissioner Sorel recommended this book to me. He thought I would like it because it’s about creativity. I think because my major is in the creative field, it was a good pick.
Tang: What is the book about?
Carretta: The book is about how to increase creativity, fuel competitive advantage, and build successful businesses. The author uses a 5-step process to achieve the goal — ask (define objectives), prepare (mind, culture, and environment), discover (ways and techniques of creativity), ignite (the sparks of creativity) and launch (implementation). The author attempts to engage all readers to develop their creativity muscle through a disciplined process.
Tang: What do you like most about this book?
Carretta: I like the book because I think I can relate to it on a personal level. In the Architecture program, every day I work designing and creating. In a way, the ideas in the book validate what I am doing every day at school. I think for MnDOT, the book is helpful in defining ways to expand our creative thinking. While I think MnDOT employees are innovative, the book explains new ideas and techniques to think about and try that would generate even more creative and innovative ideas.
Tang: What do you not like about this book?
Carretta: Although the real life examples used in the book are all from the private sector, I think that there is a lot to learn from them about being an agile, creative organization. Learning about developing creativity is especially important for the public sector because we have constrains and challenges that the private sector does not have.
Tang: What is the most important idea(s) you would like people to take away from this book?
Carretta: I think the most important idea is that everyone has the capacity and potential to be creative. As the author explains, creativity is one of the most important ingredients of personal and business success. The book provides practical and applicable ways of developing creativity.
Tang: After working at MnDOT for two years, what is your impression of MnDOT’s culture and environment in terms of creativity? What are we doing right to build a creative culture and environment? If we are not doing well in this area, how can we improve?
Carretta: Although I’ve been here for a little over two years, I still think of myself as a newer employee because I’m constantly learning more about MnDOT. For example, when I worked on the new display case in the CO Ground Floor lobby, I learned about the many innovative and creative projects that earned MnDOT its awards.
In the offices that I’ve worked at during my limited time here at MnDOT, I think that the organization is doing a nice job building a creative environment. The Commissioner’s Reading Corner is a nice example of our creative culture.
Tang: Please share some quotes from the book that are very meaningful for you.
Carretta: Creativity is defined as “the ability to think of a common idea in an uncommon way.” — Randall Dunn. p. 25
“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe.” — Abraham Lincoln. p. 109
Tang: Tell us a little bit about your reading habits.
Carretta: Because I’m in school, most of my time is dedicated to assigned readings for my architecture classes. In my spare time, my favorite online newspaper is Fast Company Design as it tracks trends in the design and business worlds.
Below is a book interview I did on Aug. 1, 2011 with Tracy Hatch, MnDOT Chief Financial Officer. We talked about the 14th book in the Commissioner’s Reading Corner Book of the Month series: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell.
Tang: Why did you pick this book?
Hatch: I picked the book because I’ve read other work by this author and really enjoyed his perspective. John Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has written more than 50 books, primarily focused on leadership. I have read two of them – Failing Forward: Turning Your Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success (2000) and The 360° Leader (2006)
Tang: What do you like about this book?
Hatch: The book was first published in 1998 and then revised and updated in 2007 as the 10th anniversary edition. In the book the author sums up everything he has learned about leadership over more than 40 years and distills it into the 21 principles. They are very concise, practical and applicable. I also like the real life stories and examples he shares to illustrate the lessons and principles.
Tang: Among the 21 laws discussed in the book, which one resonated more with you and why?
Hatch: The law of process – leadership develops daily, not in a day – speaks more to me than the others.
Leadership development is an on-going learning process of self-discipline and perseverance. Leaders are learners. Maxwell says: “Leadership doesn’t develop in a day. It takes a lifetime. To lead tomorrow, learn today.” You need to be intentional about your priorities and what you spend your time on. There are always so many things demanding your time and attention, the law of process really spoke to me about being deliberate in those choices.
Tang: Please share some quotes from the book that are very meaningful for you.
Hatch: “The best place for a leader isn’t always the top position. It isn’t the most prominent or powerful place. It’s the place where he or she can serve the best and add the most value to other people.” – p. 52
“To build trust, a leader must exhibit competence, connection, and character.” — p. 64
“People will tolerate honest mistakes, but if you violate their trust you will find it very difficult to ever regain their confidence. That is one reason that you need to treat trust as your most precious asset. You may fool your boss but you can never fool your colleagues or subordinates.” – P. 64
Tang: Tell us a little bit about your reading habits.
Hatch: I enjoy reading. Except for some classics, I mostly read nonfiction – biographies, politics, leadership and management. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to read right now, but I always have a book within reach in case I can steal a few minutes for it.
Tang: Tell us a little bit about your background.
Hatch: I am a native Minnesotan. I went to Northwestern College in Iowa and have a degree in Business Administration. I have been with the state government for 15 years. I have worked at the departments of Correction, Education and Human Services before coming to MnDOT.
Tang: You started your career at MnDOT in March 2009 as budget director. In March 2011 you were promoted from your position as the business manager for Operations Division to MnDOT’s chief financial officer. Congratulations for your promotion. What is your secret?
Hatch: You better ask my boss and colleagues the question.
I want to go back to the quote I shared earlier: “To build trust, a leader must exhibit competence, connection, and character.”
I think it’s a combination of character, competence and connection. In my first two years at MnDOT, I worked hard to understand the MnDOT business, gain knowledge about the different offices, build relationships and trust with people, and become a more rounded person. I think coming into the department with a fresh perspective and the MnDOT knowledge I’ve gained over the past two years has really helped me to prepare to take the step into this position.
Tang: Luck might also play a role. I think Commissioner Sorel has been very intentional in promoting younger generation to the upper management level. I remember when I interviewed him for the book on millennials and generational differences, I asked him about job assignments and promotion based on capabilities that millennials are accustomed to versus seniority that often happens in government, he said he looked at people’s capability and performance, not their years of services. Our MnDOT reorganization and upper management change at the beginning of the year was a testimony to his words.
Hatch: I agree.
Tang: What are some of the new things or lessons you have learned in your new role that you would like to share?
Hatch: I gained a new appreciation for the staff in the Office of Financial Management, and all of the staff that work in administrative areas throughout the department, who work really hard every day behind the scenes. The administrative functions are as complicated, difficult, and important as all of the other portions of our business. I’m continually amazed at the dedication and commitment of the staff. I very much appreciate that they all love this department and, as we say, bleed orange along with the rest of the department. I appreciate all MnDOT employees. After all, it’s what we all do together that makes MnDOT work. WE ARE MnDOT…and proud!!
Below is an interview I did on May 9, 2011 with Nick Thompson, MnDOT Division Director for Policy, Safety & Strategic Initiatives. We talked about the 13th book in the Commissioner’s Reading Corner Book of the Month series, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis.
Tang: Why did you pick this book?
Thompson: I know I picked a book that is an unusual selection for the Commissioner’s Reading Corner. The book was published in 2003 and I read it in 2005. It stuck with me because of the transformational change in the story. I see it as an example of approaches we need to take in the public sector. There are not many books that I will read twice, but this is one of the few I was interested in reading again. I like the author Michael Lewis. I read everything he publishes.
Tang: What is the book about?
Thompson: The basis for the book is the question Michael Lewis asked himself – how did the Oakland A’s, one of baseball’s poorest teams as measured by payroll, managed to achieve a spectacular winning record?
Lewis explains how Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, was able to maximize the market of talent with a minimum of spending. Beane used a new kind of thinking and an innovative method of business intelligence and leadership to build a successful and winning baseball team with a smaller budget than the competition. His way of doing business challenged the conventional baseball wisdom and changed the way baseball is played. He challenged a way of thinking that was around for a century because they had to in order to get results.
Tang: Did you read and like the book because you were a baseball fan?
Thompson: No. Actually the book turned me into a baseball fan. It changed my thinking on baseball. Now I look at baseball from a new and different perspective.
Tang: What do you like about this book?
Thompson: I like how the author uses storytelling to present and solve complex problems in an engaging way. As an organization, we face similar complex issues, and through effective storytelling we can have a better dialog with our customers and solve the issues and challenges we face.
Tang: What are the most important things you take away from this book that can be applied to your work or life?
Thompson: Transformational change requires creative thinking and an innovative approach to problem solving. Don’t be afraid to challenge conventional thinking and wisdom in order to bring about transformational change. Defy tradition. Just because we have always done things this way doesn’t mean we can’t try new things and new ways of doing things.
Use data and information intelligently to solve complicated problems and make efficient decisions. Ask questions differently to bring about new ideas and solutions. Instead of focusing on problem solving, use business intelligence to play ahead of the game.
On many fronts at MnDOT, we are trying to find ways that lead to the transformational change. With our funding and budget challenges, we need to find ways to make low cost investments that have higher impact and can yield better results.
Tang: Can you please share an example to illustrate what you mean?
Thompson: MnDOT’s initiative Toward Zero Deaths is a good example of using data analysis and traffic accident information to reduce traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads. For examples, instead of looking at each fatal crash separately, we analyze the data and find commonalities among all crashes, and find solutions to prevent similar crashes from happening. We also step away from just an engineering approach to the problem. We ask different questions, we look at our data and information differently, and we build and operate our highway systems in many ways differently then we did before TZD. And the results have been very positive.
Tang: Please share some quotes from the book that are very meaningful for you.
Thompson: “…at the bottom of the Oakland experience is a willingness to rethink baseball: how it is managed, how it is played, who is best suited to play it, and why.”
“Major League Baseball had no sense of the fans as customers, and so hadn’t the first clue of what the customer wanted.”
“If you challenge the conventional wisdom, you will find ways to do things much better than they are currently done.”
“…intellectual courage was his (Billy Beane) contribution. He’d had the nerve to seize upon ideas rejected, or at least not taken too seriously… and put them into practice.”
Tang: Tell us a little bit about your reading habits.
Now I like to read nonfiction books – history, especially during the era of industrialization, and biographies. I read about Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. A recent book I read was The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.
Now I don’t spend as much time in books, but I read extensively web and magazine articles across a wide variety of topics.
To find reading materials, I read some book reviews and go to bookstore to browse.
Tang: Last, but not least, congratulations for your promotion. In January you were promoted from the Office Director for Policy Analysis, Research & Innovation to the Division Director for Policy, Safety & Strategic Initiatives. It was a big promotion. How has life changed for you? What are some of the new things or lessons you have learned in your new role that you would like to share?
Thompson: I am still in the learning phase. It’s a big learning curve for me – dealing with new responsibilities and new issues, getting to know the different offices within the Division and meeting new people. I enjoy working with the new team. It’s been great and fun. I am looking forward to the new challenges that come with the new position and responsibilities.
Everyone has talents, God-given gifts that come natural to him. Talents make us feel engaged and energized or in “flow.” When we are in “flow,” we lose self-consciousness and lose track of time. When we are in “flow,” we experience an inner sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
Knowing your talents can enrich your life and enhance your career. When you have a clear picture of what your talents are and how your talents can contribute value to others and make a difference, you will live a more purpose-driven life.
I had some ideas about what my talents are and what I am passionate about, based on my own observation and understanding. But they are just things I like to do or value. They are not so clear conceptually and not well-articulated.
Recently I took the Play to Your Strengths Talent Quiz, create by Faith Ralston, as part of my leadership training with Emerging Leaders Institute. The result brought more clarity to me and helped me understand myself and my strengths better.
Ralston identifies four types of talents:
- Diamond Innovator
- Club Activator
- Spade Implementer
- Heart Motivator
The talent assessment shows that I am a Diamond Innovator.
Diamond talents are creative, innovative, knowledgeable and curious. They are good at
doing research and generating ideas. They think outside of the box and envision innovative solutions. They like to think about what’s new and possible. They need freedom to explore.
Diamond talents are the ones who ask: “What about this? Have you thought about trying
that?” They like to challenge the status quo because they see better ways to get things done.
Diamond talents love to learn and grow, to explore new ideas. They enjoy participating
in seminars and new learning experiences. They seek stimulating environment and look for outlets for their creative mind. This is especially true of me.
Diamond talents can be disconnected from reality and sometimes arrogant. They need to
practice patience. Managing time and priorities is a challenge. Taking time and delegating to others is another growth area.
For more info about the four types of talents, read the article Discover your
unique talents or the book Play Your Best Hand: How to Manage the Four Types of Knowledge Workers–and Stack the Odds for Maximum Success.
To discover your talents, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you passionate about?
- What are you good at?
- What are the gifts you have that make a difference and an impact in the world?
- What engages and energizes you?
- What makes you feel in “flow” and lost in time?
- What are the things you would do even if you don’t have to and will not get paid?
Or you might want to take a talent or strength assessment quiz.
A friend, whom I mentioned in my January 15 post, passed away on Jan. 16, following 8 months of battle with cancer. Her untimely death left me surprised and sad. In fact, the local Chinese community is grieving as the result of her death.
We met each other through some mutual friends and had partied together many times. Even though I don’t know her very well, her unexpected illness and death had an impact on me.
She passed away at such a young age. She was younger than me. She left her husband and two teen daughters.
I attended her memorial service on January 21 at Wulff Woodbury Funeral Home to pay her respect. It was a very moving and emotional service. The room was so packed that people had to stand in the lobby. In attendance were her family members, college classmates, coworkers, friends, friends and teachers of the family members.
There were no dry eyes left at the service.
While I grieved like everyone who knew her, I also found some comfort in knowing that my friend was baptized the day before she passed away. She is in a better place now.
Many of my friends in Woodbury are from China and are atheists like I was. I hope this tragic event has not only touched their hearts, but will also open their eyes and understanding to eternal life.
I believe there is life after death. Death is the beginning of a new life.
To my friend, I say: “Sorry to see you go. Rest in peace. See you later!”
For most people, the New Year and the celebration were already behind them. But for Chinese, the New Year is just starting today.
In China, today is the first day of the Chinese New Year in the traditional lunar calendar.
According to the Chinese lunar calendar, every year corresponds to one of twelve rotating animals – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
2012 is the Year of the Dragon. 2012 is also my “Ben ming nian,” the year of my Zodiac sign.
“Ben ming nian” refers to the year in the Chinese lunar calendar that corresponds with a person’s year of birth once every twelve years.
I was born in the Year of Dragon. All those born in 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, or 2012 have dragon as their Zodiac sign. Every twelve years after my birth year is my “Ben ming nian” – 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, etc.
People born in each animal’s year are said to have the personality of the animal. The personality traits of dragon are:
powerful, strong, energetic, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, fearless, passionate, decisive, ambitious, pioneering, creative, innovative, artistic, generous, loyal, warm-hearted, charismatic. Can be hot headed, quick-tempered, sharp-tongued, tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, brash.
To find out what your Zodiac sign is and learn more about the personality characteristics of your Zodiac Sign, or to find out who the notable dragons are, check out the following links:
For more info about the Chinese New Year tradition, read the Year of the Tiger.
Happy Chinese New Year to all near and far who celebrate this special festival!
Last month after I came back from a three-week trip to China, I was surprised to read in Woodbury Bulletin that South Washington County School Board didn’t renew Superintendent Mark Porter’s contract that will expire in June 2012.
No detailed explanation about the decision. I was curious and wondered why.
A few weeks passed, still not much detailed information was made public by the school board. But there were numerous letters from readers who questioned the school board decision and showed support for Mark Porter and his leadership.
I don’t know Mark Porter personally and don’t know anything about him and his leadership ability. I only saw him at school events. The most recent one was on Nov. 2, 2011 when he and his wife (who teaches at Lake Middle School) attended a joint band concert at Woodbury High School. I appreciated his support for the concert and for the band students/teachers through his appearance.
Imagine how many school events like this he attends every year as the superintendent, it’s quite a commitment and effort on his part.
From what I read and heard, our school district has been doing well under Porter’s leadership. At least I haven’t heard anything bad.
The one thing that bothered me the most about this decision was the school board failed to do the annual performance review with Porter as they should have.
If Superintendent Porter had not performed well in the last three years, the school board should have provided feedback through the annual performance review and given him a chance for improvement. They should not surprise him with the decision to not renew his contract without ongoing dialogue and feedback.
The school board should not surprise the public with the decision and not offer any reasonable explanation.
I liked school board member Jim Gelbmann’s Jan. 11 viewpoint article in Woodbury Bulletin: “School Board can, should reconsider Porter decision.” He was one of the two school board members who opposed the decision.
Like the Dec. 21 Woodbury Bulletin editorial says: “School Board owes public explanation for Porter decision.”
The school board needs to be more transparant in what they do in order to gain the trust from the public.
Trust is a sacred commodity. Once lost, it’s hard to regain it. Trust can only be built through openness and transparency.
Today this kid’s song came to my mind.
Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day
We want to go outside and play
Come again some other day.
I want to say:
Cancer, cancer, go away
Never come back another day
We want to enjoy life and live
Never come back another day.
Cancer, hospice, those are not words you want to hear, but I heard them twice today from two different sources.
My beloved pastor Frank Sanders has pancreatic cancer. His health is deteriorating. It’s hard to see him suffering so much physically.
A friend from Woodbury, only in her 40s, is also suffering from cancer. She was an athletic and vibrant woman in excellent health just 6 months ago. But cancer has destroyed her health.
Cancer is stealing both their lives away.
I know cancer can take their lives physically, but God gives them eternal life. No matter what happens to their bodies, their spirits are eternal and live on.
As someone said: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Still I hate to see them suffer physically!
There is heaviness and sadness in my heart. I only wish I could sing that modified song and make my friends’ cancer go away.
God, may you bless my pastor, my friend and their families, and give them peace and comfort as they go through this difficult journey. May your healing power come upon them. May they feel your love and presence in spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.