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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Welcoming Back the Light


I spent my morning at the dentist, which went very well. And, I am very grateful. Today is also a special day. It is the first day of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer for our brothers and sisters in the Southern Hemisphere. Today is also Yule or Yuletide, which is a festival of renewal and light. Yule has traditionally been celebrated for millenia in the Northern Hemisphere by the Norse people. It has been a time for feasting, merrymaking and sacrifice. The Celts,  the Romans, the Greeks and the Egyptians also had similar festivities in and around wintertime.

Customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, wreaths of holly and evergreens, wassailing (caroling), mistletoe, gift-giving, using the colors: red, green, white, gold and silver, cookies, cakes, fruits, nuts, cider, eggnog, turkey, pork (ham), feasting, and honoring a god (of agriculture) came from Yuletide and related celebrations. The Catholic church later sanctified these traditions and incorporated them into Christian traditions to win over non-Christians (with the Christmas celebration December 25). I find the overlap of the symbolism of the return of the light (and the Sun) and the return of Christ (the Son of God) to be remarkable. Yule is truly a wonderful celebration filled with rituals of renewal and joy for the return of longer days. You can learn more of Yule at:

History of Yule (About.com) 
All about Yule (About.com)
Yule in the Northern Isles
The Winter Solstice – Yule Lore

I feel it is important to understand and appreciate the customs and traditions of others. In this way we can truly bring back the light and be love for one another. Wishing you and yours a Joyous Winter Solstice and Yule Blessings and Peace; good-bye to darkness and hello to a very Merry Christmas.

Hanukkah ~ Celebration of Light


Tonight begins the Jewish eight-day festival of light and purity, Chanukah (Hanukkah). This is a celebration of triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, and of spirituality over materialism. The history of Hanukkah begins more than twenty-one centuries ago. The Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.

When they sought to light the Temple’s menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

On Chanukah the Jewish people also add the Hallel and Al HaNissim in their daily prayers to offer praise and thanksgiving to God for “delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few… the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”

Chanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil — latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nungimmelhei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there”); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children. Click here for the complete story of Chanukah.

Happy Hanukkah!

(My gratitude to Chabad.org for the information posted.)

Learned In Life…

Yesterday, I came across a little book that I have had for years (almost 20 years) entitled: The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned in Life. It is a book compiled of quotes from notable and everyday people alike on just that…what they felt was the most important thing they learned in life. The most intriguing part of this compilation is that a sixteen year old young man named Beau Bauman created it. He started this project at the tender age of thirteen. I am delighted that he was able to follow through on this wonderful project during the most active years in a teenagers life. (He could have easily put it aside to do a number of other activities that young boys do.)

When Bauman started this project, he collected mailing addresses of a wide diversity of notable people such as Stephen Hawking, Phyllis Diller, Arnold Palmer, and Mother Teresa. He plunged right into this project with youthful optimism. You got to love his Chutzpah (courage and enthusiasm). Most of the responses came via postal mail, with a few face-to-face and phone responses, which is not surprising given that he did this project back in 1993. If he did this today, he would have been facilitated by the internet.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes to the question, “What is the most important thing you’ve learned in life?“:

“What I have learned from life is to make the most of what you have got.” ~ Stephen Hawking, professor of mathematics, physicist, and author; University of Cambridge; England

“The cheapest gift I have to give is kindness, and it is the best.” ~ Bob Kerry, Senator from Nebraska

“Believe you can do anything you want to do if you work hard enough to achieve it. If you believe in yourself so will others.” ~ Graham Green, First Secretary to the Ambassador of Canada

“Happiness is not a string of miscellaneous adventures or experiences but an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” ~ Francesca Reigler, artist

“The purpose of lie is not to win. The purpose of life is to grow and share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people’s lives than you will from the times that you outdid and defeated them. “ ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner

“Never be afraid to ask a question, especially of yourself – discovery is the mission of life.” ~ Brian Kates, author, journalist

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean giving up of familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work, values no longer believed in, relationships that have lost their meaning. As Dostoevsky put it, ‘taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.’ The real fear should be the opposite course.” ~ Gail Sheehy, author

“Spending time with my family; watching my children grow up. Try t make the world a better place; be part of the solution not the problem. Have your work help others. Study–learn–grow.” ~ Ted Turner, founder of CNN and TBS

“If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think that you dare not, you don’t;
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost;
For out in the world; you’ll find
Success begins with a fellow’s will–
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise;
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
to the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.”
~ Unattributed poem submitted by Arnold Palmer, professional golfer

“The most important thing that I have learned early in life is to know God loves me and to love others as  He loves me. “ ~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Today, my response to this young man would be: The most important thing I’ve learned in life is: Love comes in many forms, the less conditional it is the more blissful you feel. Furthermore, the gift of love has to be given without strings attached, no expectations. Only in this way will you feel blissful, tranquil and content.

Back in 1993, when Bauman compiled his quotes, I was nearly as young as he was. My answer most assuredly would have been different; but, maybe not hugely different. I had just finished college and was starting my career. I most likely would have responded on the topic of patience, courage and perseverance. Life will give you what you give it. The more you put into anything, the more you get out of it; however, that line of thinking implies expectation.

It is better to pursue your dreams with passion and love, but without expectation. Simply said, enjoy the moment, savor the journey and delight in the process. How would I answer Bauman’s question tomorrow or next year, I have no idea because as I experience life, I learn new lessons. Perhaps there really is not one most important thing to learn in life. Life’s lessons are ongoing; they accumulate and bring us wisdom to our next experience.

My question to all my readers, “What is the most important thing you’ve learned in life?” and let me add, “has it changed from yesteryear or even yesterday? Will it be different tomorrow?” Also, “what advice would you give to your younger self if you were ever given the opportunity to travel back in time?”



The Gift of a Good Sleep…Tips

Sleep deprivation is NOT RECOMMENDED. So, why do we keep doing it! Give yourself the gift of a good night’s sleep. You will be more productive, healthier and happier because of it. Sleep is necessary for your body and spirit to rejuvenate, heal and work out daily concerns through dreaming. You can chase the blues or listlessness away just by going to sleep 30 minutes earlier for a week.

These good habits will ensure a good sleep:

  • Exercise most days, even if it is just to take a walk.
  • No caffeine 4 to 5 hours before your bedtime.
  • An hour before bedtime, avoid any work that requires concerted thinking like crossword puzzles or analyzing an article. Meditative, repetitive activities such as addressing envelopes, doodling or crocheting are fine.
  • Adjust your bedroom temperature to be slightly chilly.
  • Keep your bedroom dark. It has been reported in research studies that even the light from a digital alarm clock can disrupt a sleep cycle.
  • Keep your bedroom as neat as possible to eliminate having to fight chaos to get to bed.

If you are having trouble getting to sleep here are ten foods that can help:

  1. Almonds
  2. Chamomile Tea
  3. Miso Soup
  4. Banana
  5. Dairy regular or fat-free (Yogurt, Milk, Cheese)
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Hard-Cooked Eggs
  8. Edamame
  9. Cherries
  10. Cereal (low sugar, whole-grain)

Here are some other tips to help you get drowsy:

  • Breathe deeply and slowly…in through your nose and out through your mouth clearing any thoughts visualizing something calm like a pristine lake.
  • If your mind is cluttered with thoughts and concerns, write down what is on your mind…maybe into a journal.
  • Pamper yourself with lotion; if it is lavender or vanilla scented, that is even better.
  • If your feet are cold, put on socks.
  • Wiggle and stretch your toes several times.
  • Stretch your whole body.
  • Yawn.
  • Use aromatherapy. Lavender, Chamomile, Jasmine or Vanilla are great scents to use.

Here are 7 tips from the Mayo Clinic:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Get to bed and rise at the same time everyday, even on weekends.
  2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed as the discomfort will interfere with sleep. Be mindful of the fluids you consume before bedtime; and, avoid caffeine, nicotine, and/or alcohol.
  3. Create a bedtime ritual. Do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down, which might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music — preferably with the lights dimmed. Avoid television watching or the use of other electronic devices before bedtime because it can interfere with sleep.
  4. Get comfortable. Cool, dark, and quiet rooms are best. Make certain that your mattress and pillows are comfortable; and you have enough room if you share your bed with a partner. If you have pets or children, set limits on how often they sleep with you.
  5. Limit daytime naps. Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you need daytime sleep as part of your work routine, make sure the room is dark and sleep is uninterrupted.
  6. Include physical activity in your daily routine, early in the day. Do not do physical exercise 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  7. Manage stress. Meditate. Organize. Write in a journal as you need.

Here are a few more great sites to go to for more sleep tips.

SleepFoundation.org: HEALTHY SLEEP TIPS



Sweet dreams!!!

Mapping Yourself and Your Dreams

Yesterday, I talked about being the writer, director and producer of my life. One of the tools I use is a concept map. Concept maps are graphic organizers, which are visual displays of information such as a chart or a graph. Concept maps start with a central idea from which you expand outward. In this case, the central idea is me. I am the central point of the this map. Around me are all my needs, goals, intentions and affirmations for the day, week, and the months ahead.

Concept maps are great to use for defining an idea, creating an outline for a story, developing a timeline for a business. Concept maps can be made daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. For students, a concept map is a great tool for studying any topic, especially when the student generates his or her own concept map. A concept map displays a great amount of information on a single page. There are endless possible applications for concept maps. Consider using a concept map in defining you and your dream or planning your next project or event.


As my husband was born in Canada, we are celebrating Thanksgiving today. And, we get to celebrate again in November. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It affirms my belief in gratitude and appreciation. Happy Thanksgiving! Below is some information I found on Canadian Thanksgiving.

In 1957, the Canadian Parliament solidified the Canadian people’s folk practice of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest by declaring the second Monday in October the official day of Thanksgiving. This year, Thanksgiving Day is October 8. Thanksgiving has a long history in Canada and is a holiday forged out of the Canadian people’s history and desire to give thanks for all the good that surrounds their lovely land.

Canadian Thanksgiving traces its roots across the Atlantic as definitively as it is rooted in its own heartland. The original concept of Canadian Thanksgiving is traced to an old European farming custom in which farmers were known to band together to toast a plentiful harvest. The first known Thanksgiving celebration on Canadian shores was hosted by a European explorer named Martin Frobisher who enjoyed an impromptu harvest feast upon washing his ship ashore in Newfoundland around 1578.

Frobisher famously gave thanks not only for the delicious feast he was enjoying, but also for his and his crew’s good fortune at having avoided the many dangers found on the high seas. The third, much noted aspect of Canadian Thanksgiving’s origin, is attributed to the many Loyalists (Americans who remained faithful to England) who moved north to make a new home in Canada. Loyalists brought with them many American Thanksgiving traditions that were adopted into the Canadian holiday. (from: http://www.spfdbus.com/thanksgiving/happy_canadian_thanksgiving.htm)

I found this poem on a Facebook post and I felt it appropriate to share. May all my Canadian readers, friends and family have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

T = for time to be together,
turkey, talk, and tangy weather.
H = for harvest stored away,
home, and hearth, and holiday.
A = for autumn’s frosty art,
and abundance in the heart.
N = for neighbors, and October,
nice things, new things to remember.
K = for kitchen, kettles’ croon,
kith and kin expected soon.
S = for sizzles, sights, and sounds,
and something special that abounds.

Author: Unknown

The Message in a Toadstool

A toadstool…

…fears NOT the darkness.

…thrives and grows in muck.

…stands tall and

…keeps its head high.

What can you learn from a toadstool?

Bare Necessities!

When we take care of our bare necessities…nutrition, fitness, rest and engaging activities, then we are re-energized and inspired to nurture others.
~ Dr. Angela Kowitz Orobko

I was able to truly take care of myself today, especially in the area of resting. I have been going and going and going like the Energizer bunny. Recharging my batteries did wonders for me today!

Now I feel like I can take on my tasks with a blissful heart and move forward in all my projects. It feels great. Are you taking care of your bare necessities?  How is your nutritional intake? Are you getting in some fitness training? Are you getting enough sleep? What engaging activities are inspiring you? Sometimes it is good to check-in with yourself and make certain you are getting everything you need.

Tomorrow is the kick-off to another school year for our grade-school aged children. Some have already started school. This is a fabulous time to re-evaluate ourselves and our families. May it be a blessed year for all our loved ones in the school systems. May it be filled with wonderful and engaging activities that will inspire our children to be the best they can be. I know our God will watch over the children and all those involved in their lives, and be there for them as they are receptive.

Once in a Blue Moon

Blue Moon as sung by Ella Fitzgerald

Blue Moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue Moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Blue Moon
Now I’m no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked the Moon had turned to gold

Blue moon
Now I’m no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue moon
Now I’m no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own


I have always been fascinated by the term, “blue moon” and the stories behind them. I have always believed a “blue moon” to imply a rare occurrence. When I was child, I believe I thought the moon would literally be blue. As the “blue moon” rises, let us take this time to ponder and contemplate its wisdom and beauty. What is the lesson in a “blue moon”, a rare event? Rare moments could be celebrated and cherished? Often rare natural events were revered in history.

Without further ado, I thought it would be appropriate to share what I learned with you. A “blue moon” may either signify the third full moon in a season with four full moons, or the second full moon in a month. The term “blue moon” comes from folklore. Various cultures, traditions and conventions place the extra “blue” full moon at different times in the year. Most of the following information comes from Wikipedia.

The earliest recorded English usage of the term “blue moon” was in a 1524 pamphlet violently attacking the English clergy,[4] entitled “Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe” (“Read me and be not angry”; or possibly “Counsel Me and Be Not Angry”[5]): “If they say the moon is belewe / We must believe that it is true” [If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true].

Another interpretation uses another Middle English meaning of belewe, which (besides “blue”) can mean “betray”.[2] By the 18th century, before the Gregorian calendar reform, the medieval computus was out of sync with the actual seasons and the moon, and occasionally spring would have begun and a full moon passed a month before the computus put the first spring moon.[6][7] Thus, the clergy needed to tell the people whether the full moon was the Easter moon or a false one, which they may have called a “betrayer moon” (belewe moon) after which people would have had to continue fasting for another month by the season of Lent.[8]

Modern interpretation of the term relates to absurdities and impossibilities; the phrase “once in a blue moon” refers to an event that will take place only at incredibly rare occasions.[9]

The most literal meaning of “blue moon” is when the moon (not necessarily a full moon) appears to a casual observer to be unusually bluish, which is a rare event. The effect can be caused by smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere, as has happened after forest fires in Sweden and Canada in 1950 and 1951,[11] and after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which caused the moon to appear blue for nearly two years. Other less potent volcanoes have also turned the moon blue. People saw blue moons in 1983 after the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico, and there are reports of blue moons caused by Mount St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.[12]

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Maine Farmers’ Almanac listed blue moon dates for farmers. These correspond to the third full moon in a quarter of the year when there were four full moons (normally a quarter year has three full moons). Full moon names are given to each moon in a season: For example, the first moon of summer is called the early summer moon, the second is called the midsummer moon, and the last is called the late summer moon. When a season has four moons the third is called the blue moon so that the last can continue to be called the late moon.

The March 1946 Sky and Telescope article “Once in a Blue Moon” by James Hugh Pruett misinterpreted the 1937 Maine Farmers’ Almanac. “Seven times in 19 years there were — and still are — 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.” Widespread adoption of the definition of a “blue moon” as the second full moon in a month followed its use on the popular radio program StarDate on January 31, 1980.[1][15] (Wikipedia)

Blue moons between 2009 and 2016 (Wikipedia)

The following blue moons occur between 2009 and 2016. These dates use UTC as the timezone; exact dates vary with different time zones.


Using the Farmers’ Almanac definition of blue moon (meaning the third full moon in a season of four full moons), blue moons occur

  • November 21, 2010
  • August 21, 2013
  • May 21, 2016

It seems that The Farmers’ Almanac, even though it describes the Sky & Telescope ‘invention’ of the new definition, is now using the new definition of blue moon on its calendar,[16] therefore indicating that the blue moon is August 31, 2012 instead of August 21, 2013. (Wikipedia)


Unlike the astronomical seasonal definition, these dates are dependent on the Gregorian calendar and time zones.

Two full moons in one month:[17]

  • 2009: December 2, December 31 (partial lunar eclipse visible in some parts of the world), only in time zones west of UTC+05.
  • 2010: January 1 (partial lunar eclipse), January 30, only in time zones east of UTC+04:30.
  • 2010: March 1, March 30, only in time zones east of UTC+07.
  • 2012: August 2, August 31, only in time zones west of UTC+08.
  • 2015: July 2, July 31

The next time New Year’s Eve falls on a Blue Moon (as occurred on 2009 December 31) is after one Metonic cycle, in 2028. At that time there will be a total lunar eclipse. (Wikipedia)


Creativity is what you make of it; everyone is creative, as each of us are capable of making things. ~ Dr. Angela Kowitz Orobko

‎Why is it that many equate creativity with being able to paint, draw and the like? Creativity is really about being able to visualize beyond the norm. Creative people do not see obstacles or problems; instead, they see solvable challenges. Many may even get a charge out of it. They thrive when faced with a challenge because it provides an opportunity to try something new and to experiment.

Creativity is looking at things upside down instead of right-side up. Creativity is using different tools and materials in a new way to achieve different effects. Creativity is seeking tools and/or materials when others do not work or are unavailable. For example, suppose you ran out of dish soap. Creative people would find seek alternatives such as a bar of soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, lemon juice, vinegar, etc.

Creative people are often: inventive, inquisitive, optimistic, enthusiastic, energetic, determined and open to possibilities. They are not attached to one idea. They are comfortable with surprises. In fact, many creative people get excited with unexpected outcomes.

Children are naturally creative. They are open to try new things and experiment. Unfortunately, too many adults teach children that there is only one way to do various things “right”. They give them rules, procedures and routines to the point where these children lose sight of their creative nature. They succumb to only doing things one way because they want to please and be loved.

Too much television watching and video game playing also zap creativity out of humanity. Sometimes it seems that the days where we used our imagination are gone. We have grown dependent on doing things only one way; but, it is not too late to develop our creativity. We only need to challenge ourselves with little problems.

Playing the “what if” game is a good way to enhance our creativity. Again, children are great at doing this. Remember all the “what if” questions you used to ask or your children asked you? What if don’t have this, that or the other? What if it rains? What if the store is closed? What if they aren’t home? What if everything were the color purple? What if there were no spoons? You can go on and on.

Another great activity to do is to invent new purposes for various items like a paper clip, a sponge or whatever. What are other uses for a towel, a hair brush, a toothbrush, an old car tire, etc? This can be quite fun to do and a great way to develop and expand your creativity. Can you think of some other ways to develop your creative ability? I can. And so can you!

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