Halloween…Ghostly Fun for Kids and Memories for Kids at Heart!

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Time flies by and life is so busy, I can’t believe October is over.  Carved pumpkins still sitting on house steps, fallen leaves not yet raked still on the ground, and on November 6 we gain an extra hour of sleep. I used to love the time change and now that I am older…not so much!  By 6:00 p.m. it’s already dark – boo, and I don’t mean the ghostly boo; I mean yuck!  It seems like it’s already time for bed. I’m already making a list of things to do in the evenings!

On with my story:  While wracking my brain on what to write about for Halloween, I came across the picture for this blog and remembered an event that happened 21 years ago. When I saw it, I knew I had to share my story. I chuckle when I see this photo. People who know my sister Mickey will understand and laugh, and those of you who don’t will hopefully laugh and enjoy the story because with any luck I will write this so you can envision it as you read along.

Rewind 21 years. How many of you remember the Olan Mills picture plans from years ago. The plan offered a “free” 8-1/2 x 11 picture four times each year if you came in for a “sitting.” Well, we all know the “ploy” of going through the door and you never just leave with that 8-1/2 x 11 because let’s face it your kids are just too cute.  Peter is our only child so we have pictures from Olan Mills from age three months to four years old and then we start with his pre-school to kindergarten pictures hanging down the hallway stairwell from our upstairs, and we call it the “Wall of Peter.”  During the beginning of the “Olan Mills” years Peter was the only grandchild (besides two older grandchildren) on our side of the family for several years and then boom, boom, boom, three boys within six months of each other: Mitchell, Kevin, and Donovan.

Kevin’s mom is Mickey, and Mickey and I did a lot together (she’s about 12 hours away now). When Kevin was born our mom “gifted” Mickey the Olan Mills’ picture package too.  So Kevin’s first Halloween Mickey said it would be fun to take Pete and Kevin and have their picture taken together and dress them up in a costume.  So being the “leader” I am, I followed right along.  We arrived at Olan Mills and we “dressed” them in their Halloween costume and the picture above is the most expensive photograph two people probably ever spent on two children and you can’t even see their faces!  Now mind you, Kevin was six months old and Peter was 3-1/2 so you have a 3-1/2 year old holding a 6 month old underneath a sheet to make them look like a ghost.  I actually stood behind them and propped Kevin up against Pete so he wouldn’t fall off the table. We were laughing so hard during the entire time it was amazing the photographer was able to take the pictures.

Every year during the Halloween season, I look at this picture and it brings back fun and fond memories of two small boys who are now 24 and 21, two wonderful young men, and I wish I could stand behind them and protect them like I did 21 years ago, but today they stand on their own and I pray God protects them and they stay smart enough to protect themselves.

What’s your favorite Halloween memory? We’d love for you to share your story!

Until next time,

Colleen

[Updated post from four years ago.]

The Three Best Places to Learn Online

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What does your daily schedule look like? I know I have talked about reading, particularly books, but have you set aside time to read other professionals’ blogs, peer-reviewed articles, magazines, or listen to the newest craze – podcasts?  As an avid learner, I love to scope other places so I continue developing personally and professionally.

This week I want to write a quick blog about some of my favorite places to find, read, or listen to articles, podcasts, and more.

My top three places to read/listen:

  1. Medium
  2. Feedly
  3. Stitcher

Medium

Medium is a place writers can publish their blogs. On Medium you can search articles through tags like you would find in blogs published on individual’s personal or business websites.

Why I like Medium

As a reader, you can find articles from multiple authors about one topic. This is great because you can go to one place and learn from multiple people about a particular topic of interest.

What Medium could improve

The articles are not always current as some bloggers use Medium to republish their own blogs after they have already been on their own website. Also, there are an increasingly higher number of clickbait articles coming to the site. It’s more than just a title but also the content in the article is not always the best. So like other websites you need to learn what authors to trust.

Feedly

I’ve written a great blog on feedly before.  Feedly is a place where you can read all of your favorite RSS feeds in one place.

Why I like Feedly

You have probably found a few great websites or authors who you love to read. An RSS feed is a tool that automatically updates with the feed’s newest articles. Here you can gather all of you favorite authors in one place and even organize the feeds into tags.

What could be better?

There are many websites, businesses, or authors that keep an RSS feed. However, not every place has one. Also, there are many RSS feeds  so again finding the ones you gain the most from takes a bit of time.

Stitcher

Stitcher is a site, well technically an app, that plays podcasts.

Why I like Stitcher

There are many podcasts you can listen to. There are some wonderful podcasts that are both professionally created and filled with great information on any and all topics. Also, you can listen to podcasts on your computer or your phone.

What could be better?

The biggest problem I see is sometimes it is hard to find older podcasts as they do not seem to load.

Conclusion

What are some of your favorite places to read or listen? There are plenty out there so let’s hear ’em!

Peter

A Four-Step Plan to Reach My Reading Goal for 2016

book reading

Hey there reader!

We are almost halfway through the year. I’ve been thinking about writing an update on my reading challenge I started this year and what better time than now? But before I talk about myself let’s talk about you for just a bit.

Why read?

Always be learning.

I know some of you have listened to Colleen talk recently, and I want to highlight one of the most important pieces of advice: READ! I know there are many of you out there who read for pleasure or for business, and I know there are just as many of you who don’t. I was reading through some articles on Medium and I came across one I think is worthy of your attention, “Why Successful People Always Stay A Student” by Darius Foroux. In the article, Darius quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“Do you know the secret of the true scholar? In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him; and in that I am his pupil.” 

What does this have to do with reading you might ask? I look at reading as a way to learn from the authors you read, each of whom have a unique perspective. What better way to learn from someone than by reading their own take in their field of expertise. And it’s not just from non-fiction books that we learn. I can tell you from experience there are many things I learn from some of my favorite fiction works. Whether you learn a new word or the importance of love, each book has something different to offer its readers.

Where am I?

An Updated Look At My Reading Challenge.

Here is where I stand.

  • I pledged to read 50 books through the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge.
  • I have currently finished 9 books.
  • That puts me 15 books behind schedule according to the challenge tracker.

I will admit I have not be as successful as I had hoped. And yes, being 15 books behind schedule is probably too many to overcome but that won’t stop me from pushing towards my goal. Right now I would like to look at a few different things and try to discover what I did right and what I could do better.

What I’ve Done?

Observations from the journey.

When I started the challenge I told you one of the best ways for me to read more was to cut out some of the Netflix I watch. At first this was easy and I probably spent more time reading than I did watching Netflix. What I have noticed though is as time went past I started going back to Netflix more and more. Now I have to consciously think about and make a concerted effort to sit down and read. This is something I have recognized and as long as I work to correct this I should be able to read more books during the second half of the year.

Another observation I have is some of the books I read are quite long, 700 or more pages. Two of the books I am reading now are over 7oo pages. So even though I have not finished as many books as I have wanted, I’ve read a considerable number of pages, in total. As of publication, I have read just under 3000 pages this year.

One of my biggest struggles is I have not been reading business books much since March. I am always one for a good story and I have found that some non-fiction books are written poorly. One book took me entirely too long to read because I could not move past errors such as formatting problems, typos, and a true lack of any substantial lessons. I know this is something I need to work on and what I have started to do is read business books at the end of the workday. This way I am still in work mode and I can devote more brain power to what I am reading.

As you can tell, I am not changing my schedule to fit more reading into what I am doing. I believe we all have things we have to do: work, friends, family, sleep, etc. What I need to do is more effectively use my free time to accomplish my goals. For me, that means less time on Netflix, less time watching soccer (thank goodness that Copa America is finished and UEFA Euro 2016 is winding down!), and less time on social media.

Moving Forward

Attack Plan and Updated Reading List

I know there is still half to year left to read 41 books and I am going to write out a small attack plan here to help me reach my goal:

  1. Read for 30 minutes at the end of each business day.
  2. Watch less Netflix; I am going to try to do a 1:1 Netflix to reading ratio.
  3. Spend at least the last 30 minutes before I fall asleep reading.
  4. Go outside and read! It’s summer and the sun is out. I’ll use that to my advantage.

Updated book list: (12 Read)

  • The Mysterious Affairs at Styles – Agatha Christie
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood
  • Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  • The Most Productive People in History: 18 Extraordinarily Prolific Inventors, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, From Archimedes to Elon Musk – Michael Rank
  • Awakening – Jeremy Laszlo
  • Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History – Antonio J Mendez & Matt Baglio
  • The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey
  • Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath – Ted Koppel
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire – Stieg Larsson
  • Along Came a Spider – James Patterson
  • Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy –  Martin Lindstrom

Also, I wanted to add my favorite fiction and non-fiction books I’ve read so far this year. There is no real judging categories or scores, just whatever I thought was the best read:

  • Fiction: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • Non-Fiction: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History – Antonio J Mendez, Matt Baglio

I challenge you to go out and start to read more. I’ve taken some steps to push myself towards reading more. What are you going to do to read more?

Stay Well and Read,

Peter

The Best of Goodreads, or How to Find Your Favorite Book!

Hello there readers!

Last week I published my first blog in a few weeks and I’m back at it again today! Be sure to keep your eye out for my blogs hitting the site once a week, usually on Tuesdays from here on out but maybe some on Thursdays like today.

So yesterday June began! We are almost halfway through the year already, I can’t believe it! But June is the start of the summer and vacations and, for me at least, that means it’s time to read, read, read. What better way to start off the summer than with a blog for readers.

Goodreads

The Basics

I know in the past I have brought up this site called Goodreads but we haven’t had the proper opportunity to really delve into what Goodreads really offers. There are many functions of Goodreads but I want to talk about some of my favorites.

To start, what is Goodreads? Goodreads is a social network for bibliophiles. It’s a virtual bookshelf for readers to showcase what they are reading to friends, family, and any one else who follows them. Goodreads helps you stay in touch with other readers through your books and their’s.

There are many aspects of Goodreads and many of them can seem somewhat confusing. I wish I had the time to really take apart each of these sections because I think they provide incredible tools to readers and authors alike. However, for today’s purposes the two most basic parts of Goodreads are your bookshelves and your basic update.

Goodreads keeps all of your books, whether in print, on your Kindle (which is what I use the majority of the time), your Kindle App, or any book you read on other platforms, on virtual shelves.  There are a few shelves that everyone is set up with from the beginning, Currently Reading, Read, To-Read, and you can add shelves to organize your books in other fashions. I currently use the three main shelves as well as a shelf dedicated to my 2016 reading challenge, which includes all of the books I have completed this year. Maybe you want all your sales books on one shelf or your top 10 favorite books on another, make your shelves personal! And don’t worry, you can have your books on multiple shelves at once.

The other basic aspect of Goodreads is the update. Once you have a book added to your shelves you can update your reading progress to show others how far you have read. You can do this on your Kindle by sharing the update from your current page and Goodreads will automatically update with your progress. If you read print books, keep track of your progress on Goodreads as well, just add a manual update and Goodreads tracks your place.

If you are new to Goodreads these two parts are where I would spend some time becoming familiar with the site. But if you are a regular visitor or an advanced user there are many other aspects of the site that I love.

Virtual Spelunking

Further exploring Goodreads

For those who want some more Goodreads, come and explore with me! I really want to talk about two things I use regularly.

First off, check out their List section. Reader Beware: You can get lost for a long time here. As the name suggests, here you will find lists upon lists upon lists of book. The topics range from :Best Books of the ’90s” to “Books that Grow You” to “Best Business Books” and thousands of others. Why do I sit at the computer and look at these? Mainly because they are lists generated by users who vote on books to climb up or down the list. This is neat because it shows you what books others are reading and what books you might want to read.

One downside to the way that this works is that people have an inherent bias to vote for books that others have voted for in order to be viewed favorably by others. This might hide a few books that are great reads so don’t feel obligated to read what everyone else already has. Do not let that impede your discovery of books though as nearly all of the books I have found on these lists are top-notch books. The biggest thing is that the lists are a tool for you to discover new books to read and you might find a hidden gem you never knew about before!

The other part of Goodreads I like is the recommendations offered by Goodreads. The site takes the books you have read, shown interest in, or rated and it will give you recommendations based on those books. With someone like myself who constantly wants to find a good book to read these recommendations give me another source to add books to my to-read shelf.

Your turn!

What else is there?

I know that there are many other aspects of Goodreads and I highly suggest digging into them especially if you are a reader. From giveaways to the Choice Awards, to discussions, and more, you can find about anything you need to satisfy your need to read. Look forward to some blogs coming out in the future that will look into these other sections.

For those of you who use Goodreads, what are some of your favorite parts? Anything you can’t live without or maybe something that you hate? Let me know!

And if you want to become friends send me a request!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Peter

52 Weeks to Better Myself

72H book

Challenge Accepted

Personal development

Hello there Reader!

With January past, we are starting to get into the real meat of the year. The holidays have worn off, the time spent at work grows, and that New Year’s Resolution may or may not still be working. That’s okay, we’ve all been there. What happens is that most of us try to change too much too soon. So I want to give you a little extra push on your goals or even a chance to change up your goal and refocus.

Over the past month I’ve been thinking of ways that I can better myself, psychically, intellectually, in business… I often wonder about how I can become better, as my one professor’s in college used to say, “get better everyday.” Yesterday as I sat down to read I had one of those little ah-ha moments.

A Pledge To You

Time to crack those spines

Here is my pledge to you the reader. I pledge to make myself better everyday this year by reading 50 books this year. Yes this is a lofty goal and I know just two paragraphs above here I said that most of us try to change too much to fast. But in all honesty that’s not that difficult.  Just think about how long you spend watching Netflix (For me it’s The Office and The X-Files right now), or maybe you’re one of those people who are engrossed in a game on your phone (Clash of Clans addict here), or think of all the other tasks you do that are not the most productive use of your time (no one is 100% productive). Now think if you just read a book instead of watching one more episode of The Office (you don’t have to stop rooting for Jim and Pam) that’s 20 minutes of reading time.

That’s how I’m going to pursue my goal, one less episode of The Office (or The X-Files) a day. Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching Netflix all at once, leaving me with nothing but reading to do. No that would be a too drastic change, but who knows in a few weeks maybe I’ll be down to watching one less episode a night.

Reading Lists

What I’ll be reading in 2016

Now what will I be reading? A little bit of everything! With the aforementioned new year it seems as though there have been about as many people offering up reading lists, for this year and last year, as there are people who have tweeted or wrote a blog. I’ve also been delving into Goodreads lately and there are so many reading lists on to pick and choose from. I also have gone back to high school Pete and  thought about what I read, what I want to re-read, what I only read the Cliff Note’s for, there are about 40 books right there to think about. There are so many books out there to read, it really is impossible to not find something for you to read.

With my pledge of reading 50 books I want to read at least 20 books focused on business.  Reading business books will push me to learn more about the business, how we can better help you, how to interact better with people both in person and through the ever-growing field of social media and the internet in general.

That means that I have plenty of room for the fun books too! These are the books that I truly love, the books that I have laid in bed reading until 3:00 in the morning when I had to wake up at 7:00. This is what I’ve been reading almost exclusively in the past few months and what I want to continue reading. Fiction novels still provide you with knowledge that helps you in your life, it gives me imagination, access to language that I don’t hear in everyday speak, it provides insights into other people’s thoughts, and many, many more things.

A Challenge For You

Reach for the stars

I would like to challenge you to read a little more this year! Take the time to grow as a professional, as a human being, or better yet, both. If you use Goodreads I challenge you to pledge a number of book to read this year (look me up and lets be friends). Don’t stretch yourself too thin but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. By striving to reach just above your comfort level people are more likely to work for and achieve their goals. If you tend to read 10 books a year, maybe stretch your goal to 15, there is no need to do 50! I’d love to hear your thoughts on reading , or your thoughts on what to read.

To keep myself honest I’ll be posting a list of the book I’ve read right here, I’ll try to update as much as possible.

What I’ve Read

– updated 3/8/2016

So I’m up to 7 books, a bit behind schedule but that’s okay, I hope to finish up a couple books this week!

Fiction and Fun Non-Fiction

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Children of the After: Awakening (book 1) by Jeremy Laszlo

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez 

Business Non-Fiction

The Most Productive People in History: 18 Extraordinarily Prolific Inventors, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, From Archimedes to Elon Musk by Michael Rank

 

Thanks for the read! Hope to see you on Goodreads or down in the comments!

Peter Wietmarschen