Saturday, November 28, 2009

Review: The Power of Respect, by Deborah Norville

Deborah Norville's previous book, Thank You Power, reminded us of the importance and benefits of saying thank you and being grateful. In this next book, The Power of Respect, she reminds us of another one of the most important virtues, in business, in education, and in our personal life. Through personal stories and the stories of other very successful leaders in corporate America, we are reminded how important respect is in order to succeed.

Schools around the country that were having serious issues with bullying and apathetic attitudes from students have instituted behavioral intervention programs teaching the value of respect. These programs have resulted in a dramatic decrease in bullying, better attitudes toward learning and is changing student's lives for the better. These students are not only learning the importance of respect for their teachers, but for their peers and themselves. Successful CEOs from Zappos, Macy's, Glaxo, Time Inc., and others share with us how respect plays a major roll in the success of their companies. When employees are treated with respect, they are happier and more productive. When customers are treated with respect, they will return again.

There are also tips and strategies given to help develop more self respect for ourselves and our children. Through making positive changes in our lives, such as having a positive attitude, becoming more active, eating better, surrounding ourselves with the right people and other suggestions, we can develop more self respect and become more successful.

This book was an easy, engaging and enlightening read that I will recommend to others.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: Home Safe, By Elizabeth Berg

Home Safe: A Novel Home Safe: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Helen Ames's doesn't know what to do with herself after the sudden death of her husband Dan. She finds herself unable to write and becomes more and more dependent on her 27 year old daughter, Tessa. Then one day she receives a call that will completely change her world. She and her husband had always saved money for their retirement, but she is shocked to find out that he made a very large withdrawal before his death. Now she must find a way to support herself and she takes a job doing something she had never really wanted to do, as a writing teacher. Much to her surprise, it will turn out to be more rewarding than she possibly could have imagined.
She will teach a class of unlikely characters, who will not only learn something about writing a good novel; they will teach her some very important lessons in return. I really enjoyed this book as I have all of Elizabeth Berg's books. If you're a true book lover, you'll appreciate how she summed it up on page 229 when Helen Ames speaks to a group of students at a book reading. Here are a few quotes:

"...while the author may describe in some detail how a character looks, it is the reader's imagination that completes the image, making it his or her own.....She talked, too, about how books educate and inpire, and how they soothe souls-"like comfort food without calories", she said.
....She talked about how people complain that they don't have time to read...."Books don't take time away from us," she said. "They give it back."

I completely agree with that statement; time reading a good book is time well spent.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Space

I have spent this evening setting up my work space at home, reclaiming a room that used to be what I considered my room before the kids took over. I read a few articles about how to decorate and organize a room or an area of your home to work in. I finally decided that I'll just do what works for me. One thing I can't stand is a closed in room with no window, no natural light. My computer desk is in the front living room of the house where there is a large picture window, so the room is very bright, I like that. There is a love seat in front of the window where the dogs hang out and keep watch and I like that too. I have stewey, our squirrel in here also. I love having my pets around; when I need a break I can stop and watch Stewey do his acrobatics in his cage and my dog Ziggy is a constant source of laughter. I have plants in here, because I love plants and believe they bring life to a home. There is no phone or tv in the room, I don't want or need those distractions. I have my book shelves packed with books I have read, and those I intend to read. I have at my fingertips a few of the necessary reference books, a couple of dictionaries, thesaurus, and English handbooks. I have books of quotes and devotionals that inspire me. I have my trusty electric pencil sharpener and desk lamp that once sat on my mother-in-laws desk. In fact, now that I think about it, this desk I am sitting at came from my in-laws, along with the large maple magazine holder that I plan to use to help organize my space. There are pictures of my family, and mementos from my husband and kids. There are the rocks my husband painted as a child that reflected his budding talent as an artist. There are the shells that my daughter, Sara painted recently that show she too is a very talented artist like her father. I have the granite rock that my son Matthew got off a mountain in North Carolina. Since I couldn't go, I had asked him to bring me back a piece of the mountain, he did. There is the perfectly in tact starfish the kids found on the beach after a tropical storm had passed. There are a few silly items such as the very large eraser I found at a dollar store that says, "For BIG Mistakes". The pencils from the bahamas with "bobble fish" on the erasers that a friend picked up for me on her vacation. My silly rooster on the bookshelf, I am a rooster collector. I have a fuzzy pink ribbon pen that lights up when you write, which is fun, but also reminds me of a friend that died about a year and a half ago from breast cancer. All I have to do is look around and be inspired. I do still have some work to do in here, there is some clutter in the room that has to go, I really want to paint and hopefully will be able to do that soon. But, little by little, it's coming together. It won't be long before this will be my version of "my space".

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

If you enjoy hiking and want close up encounters with real wildlife, then Paynes Prairie is just the place. This was our first visit here. We wanted to check the place out as a possible spot for a future camping trip. We went to the visitor center for a little information about the trails, and to get a view of the prairie from the observation tower. It is a spectacular view. After that, we went to a picnic area and grilled some burgers while enjoying the sight of two bald eagles circling just over the tree tops, occasionally landing long enough to admire them and get a quick photo. There were of course many other feathered friends around, hawks, woodpeckers, sparrows, wrens, cardinals and many others.

There are several trails to choose from, paved and unpaved to the more challenging Cones Dike Trail. We chose to walk the Cones Dike Trail along the prairie. We were informed and warned, there was no place to stop and sit, no water, and we may come across wild animals, so be careful. Well, that's exactly what we were hoping for and just what we got. We took about a 6 mile hike along the prairie and had close up encounters with at least a dozen baby gators sunning themselves and several sandhill cranes out for an afternoon stroll. Matt spotted a bobcat peeking out from the brush, who quickly made his exit. We came upon some wild horses, one of which was a young colt. They were grazing just off the path, and eventually came out and crossed in front of us. They didn't seem to mind us being there at all, so long as we kept our distance. At one point, the colt started trotting towards us and the other horses were very quick to surround him and protect him from curious strangers. We had hoped to see bison which have been spotted on the prairie, but unfortunately, there were none to be found today. As we walked the last bit of the trail back up toward the visitor center, through a wooded area, we spotted several deer. It's such a thrill to see them in their natural habitat. They were absolutely beautiful; I only wish they hadn't been moving so quickly so we could have gotten a picture. Driving home, there was an almost full moon. It was a beautiful sight, seeing the moon light up the sky over the prairie. What a perfect end to a perfect day.