Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Atomic Habits (Book Notes)

Earlier this year, I did the 75Hard Challenge. One of the books that many of the people who do the challenge have read and recommend is Atomic Habits - An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear. 

Many of the concepts about habit tracking and focusing on several key smaller habits is something that 75Hard focuses on. So, this book was a reinforcement about what I've been doing already this year. However, what was new was the concept of habit stacking which I've never heard before. It sounds like it would be something beneficial to try. 

Below are notes from the book that I found interesting:

- Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long run.

- Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed. You need to be patient.

- An atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system. Atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results.

- Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making process. 

- The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.

- Your identity emerges out of your habits. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.

- Do a habits scorecard to rate your habits. Use a plus sign for positive habits, a minus sign for negative habits, and an equal sign for neutral habits. See atomichabits.com/scorecard

- To set habits, use this formula: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]. 

- Habit stacking is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a current habit. The habit stacking formula is: After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]. 

- Redesign your environment and make the cues for your preferred habits more obvious. For example, if you want to practice guitar more frequently, place your guitar stand in the middle of the living room. If you want to send more thank you notes, keep a stack of stationery on your desk. 

- Do you want to think more creatively? Move to a bigger room or take a break from the space where you do your daily work, which is also linked to your current thought patterns.

- Cut bad habits off at the source by reducing exposure to the cue that causes it. If you can't get any work done, leave your phone in another room for a few hours. If you're continually feeling like you're not enough, stop following social media accounts that trigger jealousy and envy. 

- Make a habit attractive. Do this by following this formula:

1. After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED].

2 After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT].

If you want to check Facebook, but you need to exercise more:

1. After I pull out my phone, I will do ten burpees (need).

2. After I do ten burpees, I will check Facebook (want). 

- 40-50% of our actions on any given day are done out of habit.

- When you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do. Nearly any habit can be scaled dow into a two-minute version:

- "Read before bed each night" becomes "Read one page."

- "Fold the laundry" becomes "Fold one pair of socks."

- Once you do the "gateway habit" that leads you down a more productive path. The point is to show up and start doing the habit.

- Phases of habit shaping for becoming vegan: start eating vegetables at each meal; stop eating animals with four legs (cow, pig, lamb, etc.). Stop eating animals with two legs (chicken, turkey, etc.). Stop eating animals with no legs (fish, clams, scallops, etc.). Stop eating all animal products (eggs, milk, cheese).

- Onetime actions that lock in good habits:

- Nutrition: buy a water filter to clean your drinking water. Use smaller plates to reduce caloric intake.

- Sleep: buy a good mattress. Get blackout curtains. Remove your television from your bedroom.

- Productivity: unsubscribe from emails. Turn off notifications and mute group chats. Set your phone to silent. Delete social media apps on your phone.

- Happiness: get a dog.

- General health: get vaccinated. Buy good shoes to avoid back pain.

- Finance: enroll in an automatic savings plan. Set up automatic bill pay. 

- Do habit tracking. Whenever possible, measurement should be automated (e.g., credit card statements, Fitbit, calendar). Manual tracking should be limited to your most important habit. It is better to consistently track one habit than to sporadically track ten. Record each measurement immediately after the habit occurs.

- Never miss a habit twice. The first mistake is never the one that ruins you. It is the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Career Comeback (Book Notes)

 Last month I was reading quite a few books about seeking a new job and career path once Olivia goes to college and I no longer am needed as a homeschool mom. I read another book Career Comeback - Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want by Lisa Johnson Mandell. 

Much of what was in this book I have read in other books. However, there were a few new ideas in this one that are worth noting:

- Create a career mission statement. Examine the following:

- Make a list of all the things you love to do, from baking brownies to horseback riding to knitting to reading.

- Make a list of all the things you'd love to do if money or time were no object, from travel to skydiving to starting a shelter for homeless animals to mastering a musical instrument.

- Make a list of things that really make you angry - the things you'd like to change in the world or fix, from bigotry to sexism to abuse to illiteracy to pollution to poverty.

- Take those lists and connect the dots. 

- Raise your "hip" quotient by becoming familiar with current culture. There were a lot of ideas - many of which I already do. Some I don't see a purpose in doing. Others, like the ones below, are ones I could do:

- Scan at least one current culture or news blog daily (e.g., huffingtonpost.com   wowowow.com   nytimes.com   gawker.com)

- Subscribe to at least one online newsletter. Find a top website for your own particular field or profession to keep current with your industry.

- Test drive a hybrid. 

- Do at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping activity five times a week or 50 minutes 3 times a week.

- Count your blessings and focus on all the things you have rather than the things you don't have.

- In creative fields or special events planning, you want to dress for work with a little more style and sophistication. Think talk show hosts like Oprah, Tyra Banks, Kelly Ripa, etc. Express yourself with color and style.

- Take Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and Hyaluronic Acid (HA) supplements.

- Get Aging Eraser which is an antioxidant cream.

- Have a good elevator pitch which includes an introduction (your name), your profession, what needs you meet, and what makes you different from everyone else.

- Create a business card. Use VistaPrint.com.

- Get professional photos taken.

- Explore Change.org which is a nonprofit social networking site that asks what you want to change in the world, connects you with like-minded folks, and provides opportunities for work or volunteerism.

-  "Tell me about yourself" - focus on the strengths and skills you've developed that relate to that particular job. Keep the answer short and professional.

- "I see some gaps here in your job history. Tell me about them." Be honest and talk about the work skills you developed during those gaps. For example, if you were running a household, you managed complex schedules and financial issues. You developed flexibility, resourcefulness, and the ability to keep your cool while handling emergencies of all types. 

- Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. (Confucius)

Change Your World (Book Notes)

 During the past year, I've read a few books by John Maxwell. I like his message and writing style. The most recent book I read is Change Your World - How Anyone, Anywhere Can Make a Difference.

 Below are some points from the books that I found particularly interesting or meaningful:

- Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. (Augustine of Hippo)

- It's estimated that 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery.

- People change when they hurt enough that they have.

- People change when they see enough that they are inspired to.

- People change when they learn enough that they want to.

- People change when they receive enough that they are able to.

- Dare to Dream, but please also Do. For Dreamers are many, but Doers are few. (Brad Montague)

- Regardless of what people aim to achieve...those who set themselves apart from the rest maintain a sense of urgency in order to be the best they can be. (Rob Llewellyn)

- The most successful entrepreneurs not only have courage and imagination, they also have a sense of urgency....Their feeling of urgency moves them to take action. Right now!

- It doesn't matter how old you are. It doesn't matter what you have or haven't done yet. It's never too late to do something to change your world.

- Third-grade literacy is the number-one determinant of whether kids graduate from high school.

- The most significant and powerful way to bring generational change to this community would be through good education, especially of younger kids with reading.

- The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are usually the ones who do. (Steve Jobs)

- Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. (Harriet Tubman)

- Many things in life just happen, but positive change isn't one of them. Changing anything in our world requires someone to be the catalyst.

- People with good intentions want to add value to others, but find reasons not to do it. People with good actions want to add value to others and find ways to do it. People with good intentions can be passive, inconsistent, and disappointing. People with good actions are deliberate, consistent, and willful. Good actions represent the dividing line between words and results. 

- "May I stress the need for courageous, intelligent, and dedicated leadership....Leaders of sound integrity. Leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with justice. Leaders not in love with money, but in love with humanity. Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause." (Martin Luthern King, Jr.)

- "We can't change everything, but we can change something." (Bill Austin, billionaire philanthropist) The questions to ask are: What can I change? What can I do exceptionally well? What's my A-game? What do I do that consistently makes a positive impact? That's what you should be focusing on.

- Your best contribution will be based on your gifts, past successes, passions, and opportunities.

- I can do what you cannot, and you can do what I cannot; together we can do great things. (Mother Teresa)

- No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you're playing a solo game, you'll always lose out to a team. (Reid Hoffman)

- I want to make a difference with people who want to make a difference. If we wanted to make a difference, we had to be fighting for the same cause. That taught me to become more selective about who I teamed up with.

- Let both sides explore what problems united us instead of belaboring the problems which divide us. (John F. Kennedy)

- All players have a place where they add the most value.

- Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. (Nido Qubein)

- There was a shift from survival thinking to significant thinking during the COVID-19 pandemic:

- Teachers offered their classes online.

- Neighbors shared necessities like food, water, and toilet paper.

- Neighbors put up Christmas lights to boost spirits.

- Your values become your destiny. (Mahatma Gandhi)

- As individuals embrace good values, they realize they have the potential to change their own lives. They begin to realize they have the opportunity to add value to others. 

- Transformation begins in an individual, grows in community, and impacts a society.

- Values not only help people to live better, they also help people to stay true to themselves.

- A meaningful life is not a matter of speed or efficiency. It's much more a matter of what you do and why you do it, than how fast you get it done.

- For partnerships to thrive, trust must be the foundation. Movements move at the speed of trust because they are dependent upon the collaboration process.

- To work together you need three things: Generosity (giving up resources for the whole), Humility (giving up your own importance, position, and power), and Integrity (truthfulness so that others can depend on your character).

- Good values always add value to us. And they make us more valuable to others. You can work with someone whose skills are weak if their values are good. You can train someone who is inexperienced as long as they value growth. You can trust someone who makes mistakes if the person is honest. But when good values are absent in someone, working with them becomes very difficult. 

- We measure what we treasure.

- Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment. 

- No matter how you're working to make a difference, measuring results is one of the greatest skills you can develop in becoming a person that can change your world. 

- The 5 Ds:

- Discover - find out what's really going on and who is doing something about it.

- Design - develop a strategy that begins with the end in mind nad builds on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

- Deploy - implement your plan. Start small, fail soon, and adjust often.

- Document - measure to make sure that your intended outcomes are being accomplished.

- Dream - start the cycle over, expanding what works and abandoning what doesn't. 

- You can make a great plan on paper, but it may not work out the way you imagined. How do you guard against that? By building in checkpoints along the way to ensure you're headed in the right direction. And if you discover your plan isn't working out the way you hoped, be prepared to pivot. 

- The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. (Walt Disney)

- Big life change comes through a series of small life changes.

- Find hope in every situation. Bring hope to the people who need it: those who have lost hope, become discouraged, and don't see a positive way forward.

- Stop asking "Can we?" and start asking "How can we?"

- When we hope we have high expectations for the future and a clear-eyed view of the obstacles that we need to overcome in order to get there. 

- A person with high hope has goals, the motivation to pursue them, and the determination to overcome obstacles and find pathways to achieve them.

- Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. IF you want people to remember what you communicate in a transformation conversation, include a story.

- Four-step transformation process to change the world: I want to make a difference, with people who make a difference, living values that make a difference, taking action that makes a difference.



Website to Check Out: 

ChangeYourWorld.com

Monday, July 5, 2021

20 Quotes (Swap-bot)

There's a swap on Swap-bot that intrigued me in which 20 words were given and the challenge was to find quotes, lyrics, sayings, or titles that included those words. I chose to focus on quotes. I've included photos that I've taken or that were taken of me throughout the years that tie into the quotes.

Dog 

“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog. It merely expands the heart.”―Author Unknown


Baseball 

   

Love 

“A life lived in love will never be dull.” – Leo Buscaglia


Man 

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
― Brigham Young


Holiday 

“A holiday is an opportunity to journey within.” —Prabhas


Mountain 

“Everybody wants to reach the peak, but there is no growth on the top of a mountain. It is in the valley that we slog through, the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.” – Andy Andrews


Remember 

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin


Race 

"No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them." - Elie Wiesel



Horse 

​”Through the days of love and celebration and joy, and through the dark days of mourning – the faithful horse has been with us always.” ​- Elizabeth Cotton


Hospital 

“Still, when you work in a hospital, the papers you file aren't just papers: they are fragments of narratives filled with risks and triumphs.” ― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air


Music 

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein


Night 

“The moon will guide you through the night with her brightness, but she will always dwell in the darkness, in order to be seen.” ― Shannon L. Alder


Drama 

“If only people put as much energy into helping people as they do into creating drama.” ― Akiroq Brost


Beach

"Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard.” – Psyche Roxas-Mendoza


Eyes 

"Your eyes show the strength of your soul." Paulo Coelho.



Sad 

"Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Fell 

"If you fell down yesterday, stand up today." - H. G. Wells


Drive 

“Passion and drive are not the same at all. Passion pulls you toward something you cannot resist. Drive pushes you toward something you feel compelled or obligated to do. If you know nothing about yourself, you can't tell the difference. Once you gain a modicum of self-knowledge, you can express your passion.....It's not about jumping through someone else's hoops. That's drive.” ― Randy Komisar, The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur


Home 

"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place we can go as we are and not be questioned." - Maya Angelou



Funny

"There's only one true superpower amongst human beings, and that is being funny. People treat you differently if you can make them laugh." - Jeff Garlin


Sunday, July 4, 2021

My Favorite Photos - June 2021

For this swap on Swap-bot, I'm sharing my favorite photos from June 2021. A short description is before each photo.

The poppies were blooming. I added two new poppies to the garden by the back door. They were so bright and cheerful.


The irises bloomed early this year (as did a lot of different flowers). These irises were left by the previous owner and we've had them now for over 25 years.


These are Nora Barlow columbines. There are tons of little pink flowers at the top of the plants. There are seed pods that form later in the season and they rattle.


I was taking pictures of the plants in the garden and saw the raindrops on the leaves of the orange lilies. As I looked closer at the photo, I thought it looked like the initial of my first name: A.


We saw the return of butterflies. They liked the flowers on the Dame's Rocket. Dame's Rocket is actually an invasive plant. However, it is one of the earliest blooming flowers so we keep it in the garden.


This is another type of columbine in our north garden. The plant is covered with flowers this year.


Olivia was hired by two people to create gardens in their yards. This was the first job that she did in South Minneapolis. 


Gammelgarden Museum (about 5 minutes from our home) had a special community art display/fundraiser. People could paint or embellish wooden Dala horses with any design they wanted. This is one I liked.


This one I thought was clever too. The Dala horse is a Swedish symbol. However, the person who did this Dala horse made it an Egyptian horse.


This is the fence with all the different Dala horses.


Olivia finished a barn quilt that she was commissioned to create. This is her 19th barn quilt she has made.


This is what the barn quilt looks like up on the barn.


She also made another barn quilt. This is her 20th one. It is the most complex one she has made.


This is what it looks like up on the barn/garage.


Here's a view from the street.


We went on a walk at Father Hennepin State Park which is on the shores of Lake Mille Lacs in central Minnesota. Even though the day was in the upper 80s, it felt about 10 degrees cooler in the woods.
 

This is Lake Mille Lacs. When I was a baby, I lived in a cabin at a camp where my dad was the camp director. 


There's a fire tower at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park (another state park that's right by Father Hennepin State Park). It's about 100 feet tall. At the top, there was a nice breeze and an incredible view. 


Paige, Sophia, and Olivia are at the top with Lake Mille Lacs in the background.


Olivia and I visited the Japanese garden at Normandale Community College. It's a beautiful garden and it is much larger than I anticipated.


There were stone lanterns around the garden.


Olivia enjoyed watching a mother duck and her little duckling near an island in the Japanese garden.


On the other side of the Japanese garden there's a wetland. An egret was standing among the lillypads. 


On the morning of Olivia's ACT, we spotted a young male deer in our pasture. He jumped the fence and went over to the neighbor's farm. He took a break from eating the newly-growing corn to look up at us.


The wren family did well during June. The mother and father wren made countless trips to the gardens and yard to find caterpillars for their babies. 


We also had a family of tree swallows using one of the birdhouses by Olivia's garden. In the other birdhouse, there was a family of black-capped chickadees. 


Cooper was watching me from the backyard as I weeded Olivia's garden.


I noticed a spiderweb that was between the woven wire fence.


Aspen waited patiently for me while I was weeding one morning.


Scooby waited on the deck with Aspen. 


I went to a peony garden open house. The gentleman had over 200 varieties of peonies growing in his gardens. He also had an indoor display with some of the peonies. He labeled each one so people knew what kind they were looking at in the vases. I loved seeing this display of peonies.


My sister, her son (Jordan), and Olivia made a trip to Winona to visit family friends, Larry and Maureen. We had such a nice drive there and a great visit with them. They made a delicious dinner which reminded me of all the times our family went down to visit them when we were growing up.


Olivia and I nominated one of our friends and neighbors, Dan, for the "Good Neighbor Award." Dan helped with the installation of 18 barn quilts, rototilled a public garden for one of Olivia's planting projects, played Santa for years for the Lions for the community breakfast in December, and so much more. This is a well-deserved award. What's challenging for us is that Dan is on hospice now, so we know our time with him is limited.


Olivia and I went back to the Japanese garden since she wanted to feed the koi fish there. They were eager to accept any fish food tossed their way.


I like the bright red bridges at the Japanese garden.


We noticed that a wren was going in and out of the roosting box by the driveway. We took the lid off and were pleasantly surprised to see 6 eggs! The mother wren picked a nice, roomy home for herself and her future babies.


In late-June, I received the Melvin Jones Fellow award from the Lions Club I'm in. They recognized me for the volunteer work I did from July 2020 to June 2021 which basically kept the club going during a pandemic. I came up with a lot of new service events to keep the Lions in the forefront of people's minds, and to keep our members and community supporting the global causes that are important to us: Diabetes, environment, hunger, pediatric cancer, and vision. 


We went to Loring Park in Minneapolis and enjoyed the gardens. This is a round-headed leek that the bumblebees loved visiting.


Olivia fed the ducks some cracked corn.


There were super cute ducklings who also wanted some food.


Even the Canada geese wanted to have some corn. We found out that after we fed them that you're not supposed to do that. Whoops. Well...at least we had a fun time feeding them and we know next time not to do that.


We saw a rabbit at Loring Park. It sat and watched us for a while and then took off running. This is the first time I've been able to photograph a rabbit running.


Another plant at Loring Park was the Rattlesnake Master. This plant was a good 4 1/2 feet tall...a lot larger than I thought it would get. We have a couple of these plants in Olivia's garden. They aren't nearly that big now, but we now know how tall they will get.


Sophia is interning at a Swedish outdoor museum. On Midsommar Day, she made a daisy wreath for her head and got to wear a traditional outfit from Sweden. She enjoyed dressing up.


This is Sophia by one of the big Dala horses at the museum.


Since I have pictures of our other three dogs, I couldn't leave out a photo of our fourth dog, Danny. Danny was tired and resting on the couch after he got two shots the day before. He had a reaction to them and was in pain, so I had to get pain medicine for him. He recovered within two days and was back to normal.