My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Encouraging Reading to Improve Futures



With my college students I encourage them to read as it is important for their minds and their futures. I often am greeted by stares and replies that reading is boring. I believe that response is the result of years of mind numbing television that is passed off as entertaining. I try to emphasize to them what Dr. Ben Carson says about reading, “Reading activates and exercises the mind. Reading forces the mind to discriminate. From the beginning, readers have to recognize letters printed on the page, make them into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences into concepts. Reading pushes us to use our imagination and makes us more creatively inclined.” That quotes is from Dr. Ben Carson’s book, Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence. That quote and Dr. Carson’s life are examples of how reading is a foundational block to success.

In my recent reading about reading I came across thoughts from two books at my local library that encourages reading in young people. The first book is Born Reading, by Jason Boog. The subtitle is very important is this era where reading is becoming less and less of a passion. His subtitle is “Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between. For the sake of a brighter future of humanity we need more bookworms.

Jason shares a major impetus for writing the book was his desire to share his passion for reading with his daughter. In the introduction of the book he discusses a study “How to Make a Young Child Smarter” in a 2013 issue of Perspectives in Psychological Science that showed increases in a child’s IQ through interactive reading. The article stated the earlier the better. So much of the book discusses interactive reading. This shows the importance of parents taking time to read to their children. Then when the children begin to read have them join in by reading aloud to the parents. The interaction increases by using the reading time to discuss the story or material that is being read.

Over the years we have often used after dinner time to read through a book as a family. Often it was our daughter doing the reading or we would take turns reading sections of book we were working through at the time. As Jason emphasizes, our reading time would include questions afterwards or sharing what the reading was about. That increases the effectiveness of interactive reading.

Jason discusses electronic readers and mentions research and even thoughts from App designers that encourage limiting the use of electronic devices with young children. He mentions a quote from one librarian that mentions how tablets have become the new babysitters. I see this in children in therapy whose parents complain they only want to play games on tablets and not do anything else. Yet who is allowing the children to be on the tablets gaming all the time? Parents need to take charge and have young children do more than stare at the tablets continually. I enjoyed reading Born Reading and thought one way to turn our faltering country back to a creative and critical thinking pro-growth country, would be to give every parent this book as they leave the hospital with their new born child.


Another book that was a standout in encouraging reading is Raising Ravenous Readers by Linda Schwartz. It focuses in on children 8-12. The book is more a variety of activities to help promote reading. Two major focuses of the book was to help young people find material to read based on what they are interested in. I know many college students have told me their struggle with reading was in school always being forced to read material that did not interest them. This can be turned around if in the important ages of 8-12 students are introduced to libraries and finding books on topics that interest them. Linda Schwartz promotes the use of libraries in her book.

She also like Jason Boog, emphasizes the importance of interactive reading in making some time as a family for reading. Have conversations with children about the books that they are reading. A passion for reading can be developed by simply reading to children for 20 minutes a day. I like how she emphasizes libraries but she also importantly mentions visiting children sections of bookstores. I remember hearing a story at a counseling convention of how for a contest, one small town school had winners in a state poster contest. The winning students received Barnes & Noble gift cards. The principal took the students to the nearest big city that had a Barnes & Noble store. She said the students had never been in a bookstore before and were amazed. So, opening young children’s minds to bookstores helps to build a passion for reading as well.
Bookworms need to keep multiplying by encouraging reading. The two books listed here can help in giving you ideas on how to encourage reading in young people in your sphere of influence.

Reflection: Who inspired your love of reading? How can you encourage a new generation of bookworms in your sphere of influence?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Still Time for Summer Reading



I was in my local New Braunfels Public Library just the other day and picked up a “Every Hero Has A Story” bookmark. That is the theme for library Summer reading programs this year. When I picked it up, I realized I had not done my early Summer plug for library reading programs in my blog this year. Actually I am surprised that the Summer is half over. With our trip to Australia and my intense final classes for my Ph.D. and formulating my dissertation question and topic I forgot about the reading programs.

The librarian I spoke with did tell me they were having a good year with the reading program here in New Braunfels. Here is the link to the New Braunfels reading program - newbraunfels.libguides.com/srp What I like to see is that they offer the programs for children, teens and adults. I am glad my coursework in my Ph.D. is over, so next year even though I will be busy on my dissertation I can go through the 2016 reading program in the adult category.

I decided to look up my hometown of Barberton, Ohio library’s program to see what they were doing for their reading program. This is the link to the Barberton program - www.barbertonlibrary.org/2015srp . I noticed they link a series of activities that go along with their reading program for children and early teens. I remember fond memories of going through their reading program when I was in elementary school. That is when I began my love of reading. The program opened my mind up to various types of fiction such as the Hardy Boys mystery series. I also enjoyed reading stories about different parts of the world and differing cultures. I would not be the same person I am today if my mother had not encouraged my participation in the Barberton Public Library reading program. It is a reminder of how small events in life can have lifelong impacts years later.

Most reading programs are wrapping up at the end of July. It is important to note though that school does not start until the end of August. So if you missed the reading programs there is still time to visit your local library and pick some books of interest for reading on a Summer day or weekend. Also remember as well, the library is there year round for you to keep reading alive in your life throughout the year.

Reflection – Do you encourage your children or grandchildren in Summer reading programs at your local library? You can help in building a positive habit in their lives. How about yourself? Check out the various programs for adults in your local library? There are book clubs and reading challenges for adults throughout the year.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

More Australia Dream List Enjoyment



I received an email wondering why my blog stopped. Part of the problem was coming down ill after vacation. I have been battling a light bronchitis so energy has been low so priority has been my counseling job and my PhD classes. While Australia is fresh on my mind, I wanted to write up the second part of my thoughts.

First of all I wanted to mention some of the people we met along the way. Meeting people was one reason for going to Australia. One person in particular is a friend of our daughter. His name is Mathew, a wonderful Christian man originally hailing from India. His knowledge of the Adelaide area helped us to maximize our time there in seeing various sights from Victor Harbor to Kangaroo Island.


Through Mathew we met others such as his house mates who guided us to a beautiful overlook to see a sunset. We also on vacations enjoy visiting churches so we attended Unley Christian Chapel. Here is their weblink to learn about their church and to view pictures of these welcoming folks- http://www.unleychristianchapel.org/index.html We enjoyed the fellowship with the church members and after church one family invited us out to Dim Sum at a local Chinese restaurant.


In the Rundle Mall area there were a variety of street performers sharing their talents with the crowds walking from shop to shops. One of the musicians I spoke with was Andy Salvanos who was playing the Chapman Stick. He was born in Sweden and had done bass guitar session work in Los Angeles here in the states. He now was enjoying life in Adelaide. Here is his website in case you would like to listen to his music - http://www.andysalvanos.com/index.html



My favorite part of the trip to Australia was Kangaroo Island. We stayed overnight at Seal Bay Cottages. After a refreshing nights rest my wife and I woke up early and saw a couple of kangaroos hopping by the cottage. We went to a honey bee farm as it was named Clifford's Honey Farm. Since my third grade teacher was Mrs. Clifford I could not pass that up.



Of the various locations we saw on the Island, Flinders Chase National Park, was the most spectacular. The coastline with the seals resting on the rocks and the Remarkable rock formations was amazing to view. The views reminded me of the awesome God of Creation I serve. I know others would just believe it was caused by random chance over millions of years but my viewing the beauty of it out points to the more probable cause of a Creator behind it all. If you are going to Australia I would highly recommend take the extra effort to go over and enjoy Kangaroo Island.


Hope you have enjoyed some of the photos.


Reflection: Have you added Australia to your Dream List? Reflect over your most memorable vacations. What was your favorite part of them? Did you meet any interesting people who stood out to you?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bucket List Australia Vacation



Australia has been a vacation spot that has been listed on our bucket list as a couple never knowing when we could make it. Life events opened up as a family to go recently to go for a week and a half. Our visit centered in on Adelaide, South Australia. This week and next I will focus on several points of the trip that added value to our life experience. Vacations or Holidays, as they are called over there in the British tradition, are important to Living More Than OK as it helps to take breaks from the routines of our work lives to appreciate all that life has to offer.


Our first full day started off early visiting one of the many Cafes in the city. I enjoyed the variety of Cafes with no Starbuck signs round. In the US in a big city there are usually Starbuck signs every other block with it being the only place for coffee. Adelaide offers a wide variety of coffee café choices. The one we went to was Cibo Expresso Café on the corner of Rundle and Frome. It is one of the popular café chains in Australia. The setting was very relaxing and the staff were friendly as well as helpful to us since they quickly picked up that we were tourists. They patiently described how to travel to the zoo which was our next stop for the day. The pastries were fresh and not overly sweet. My wife and I enjoyed the coffee as well. On the Cibo website their theme is to “savour life’s simple pleasures”. That phrase related well with our experience of that café. The atmosphere allowed us to plot out our first day’s activities in a calm relaxing setting.


Our next stop was the Adelaide Zoo. The zoo is the second oldest zoo in the country being formed in 1883. The zoo houses 250 different species of animals. They showcased animals native to Australia such as the kangaroos and Koala bears. They also had a variety from around other parts of the world. Our favorite was the Panda bear exhibition. The two pandas are Funi and Wang Wang from a panda research center in China. We had an opportunity there to hear an informative session from the zoo caretakers about the pandas. We also enjoyed the variety of colorful wild birds on display. The zoo reminded me of how Creation is so amazing when considering the complex differences among the various animal species.



Being a Bookhead, books are always important to me even on vacation. My PhD course was still in progress so I stopped by the State Library of South Australia to do some assignment work. While I worked, my wife read up on history of Australia at the library. I was able to obtain a visitors pass for the time in Australia so I could log into my class anytime during our stay there. Of course vacations are not about school work so I had pre-done most of my work I just needed some time to add to discussions. They have a beautiful state library which was close to the University of Adelaide. I also visited one of the city library locations in Rundle Mall and enjoyed looking around that library as well. In the Rundle Mall shopping area we visited Dymocks books which reminded me of a Barnes and Noble bookstore. I was glad to see a vibrant bookstore in the main shopping area. I enjoy used bookstores as well and was delighted to come across Michael Treloar Antiquarian Booksellers. The store is located by the State Library. The store inside is wrapped around with bookshelves with old books most in mint condition. I would have loved to peruse the shelves for a long time but I knew I am so behind on my reading with my PhD studies that I needed to watch my temptation to add to the backlog of books.


This is just a starting point of our time in Adelaide, South Australia. I will share some other aspects and photos next week. If Australia is not on your bucket list or future dream list I recommend you add it.

Reflection: What are favorite activities you always try to incorporate in your vacations? Are you planning a Summer vacation this year?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Enjoy Savoring Past Positivity



I thank all of you who stop by and read my writings. I hope they encourage you in a positive way. Due to various circumstances I will not be writing until May 25th. I encourage you to enjoy and learn from some of my past writings. Just randomly click on past posts from the past couple of years and see if what you read helps you on the journey you are on today. May it be a mental and spiritual growth savoring time for you!



I do know that there is an enormity of material on the web so I am grateful to any who stop by here and read my thoughts on positive psychology and spirituality. Keep spiraling up in your life by Living More Than OK!
See you with a new post the week of the 25TH of May. If you enjoy the thoughts I share check out my book Living More Than OK at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Frank Coulson livingmorethanok@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Jazzy Look at Your Next Chapter



A few weeks back my wife and I enjoyed a Tom Braxton jazz concert at The Falls at La Cantera in San Antonio. We have enjoyed a number of the jazz concerts at La Cantera but this was special as he is one of our favorite musicians. I list him in my book, Living More Than OK, as he inspires creativity in his musicianship. We found a place to set our chairs for the outside concert right before the first song started.

Tom showcased a number of his songs of his new CD, The Next Chapter. Tom is such a personal musician in that on one song he went out into the crowd playing his sax as he walked through the crowd. We have heard him numerous times primarily at the Corpus Christi Jazz festival here in Texas. His musicianship is impeccable and creative. Between songs he is down to earth and friendly in relating to the audience. On his new CD each song is enjoyable but my favorites are The Next Chapter (the title song), It Is Well, and Sunrise on Malawi.

The song The Next Chapter, caused me to reflect over my life story. Here is the Youtube link to the song so you can take a listen to it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbBDrbn03-A

We each on our life journey are writing a story with our choices, our interaction with people, and I believe our interaction with God. At different junctures in life we turn to a new chapter. As May and June are here many young people are ending high school and college chapters to begin new chapters. In my PhD in Psychology I am ending the coursework chapter and will begin soon the dissertation chapter. Each time we start a new job that is a new chapter in our life.


Foter.com picture

How do we face the new next chapters that come our way? Too often we face them with fear and anxiety. That is because the unknown is often fearful. Sometimes people turn to alcohol or drugs to try to escape new next chapters. Tom Braxton’s song, The Next Chapter, on reflection of it points us to a positive way to face the next chapter we face. The tune is very upbeat and energetic. Think through how improved our lives could be, if we let go of the fear and approached each new day and each next chapter with a positive energy. We could be more excited about life and have more openness to new possibilities if we follow the energy of his song in our lives. We enjoy the journey when we appreciate the chapter we are presently living and look forward with anticipation to the next chapter.

Reflection: How is your present chapter going on your life journey? Are you moving into a next chapter of your life? What choices can you make to improve how the chapter goes in your life story?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Slow Down And Smell The Coffee



A couple of weekends ago I took my wife for a morning drive to see Texas wildflowers and for a morning coffee. In Lavernia, Texas there is a coffee shop named the Mesquite Bean Coffee Shop which was our ending destination after viewing bluebonnets and other Texas Wild Flowers.

The Mesquite Bean is a clean Texas Country style shop. We decided to sit at the screened in patio area to enjoy our muffins, fresh fruit and coffee. The server, Erin, had a friendly, “welcome to our home” type attitude that added to the experience. As we sat there you could hear the birds in the trees and the morning air was fresh and cool. Just the right setting for a cup of coffee.


As my wife and I sat there it donned on me how relaxing it is to slow down on a Saturday morning to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Just to enjoy conversation, quiet, and nature built in me a sense of gratitude for the miracle of living. I thought back to listening to lectures on Positive Psychology by Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar on the importance of taking time to smell the flowers. He was giving us a reminder to appreciate the moment. Be mindful of the little pleasures that add meaning and value to life. Of course at that moment I was taking time to smell the coffee, not the flowers. Breathing in the smell of a good coffee, as the Mesquite Bean Coffee has great coffee, is a savoring process that helped me appreciate just being there in that moment with my wife.

As I looked around the Mesquite Bean Coffee Shop and thought of other coffee shop experiences, I noticed a common thread that they are a place to slow down. Taking time to slow down has benefits to lower stress and savor life. The last couple of weeks I have discussed reading due to National Library Week. So I want to mention that coffee shops are a wonderful place to read. Usually any coffee house I go into there will always be a couple of people reading. If you are looking for a book selection to take the next trip to a coffee shop since I mentioned Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar take a long a copy of his book, Happier or his newer book Choose the Life You Want.

In our town of New Braunfels there are a number of coffee shops: Sertinos, 2 Rivers Coffee, Crosswalk, and New Braunfels Coffee shop. Look in the town you live in and think of the coffee shops in your area. Oh yes, there is a Starbucks in town but personally I like the small independent coffee shops. I have grown tired of the big corporate coffee settings with their agendas and sameness. For the life of me I don’t know why the masses flock to Starbucks and miss the friendly atmosphere and relaxation of an independent coffee shop.


Make it a point especially if you are in a time of stress and everything feels urgent to break away and smell the coffee (or tea if you are a tea drinker as my grandmother was). Either go by yourself and a favorite book or make it a date time with someone significant in your life. You will be glad you took time to savor and enjoy the small things in life.

Reflection:
Look on the internet and see what coffee shops are in your area. Even look within a 25 mile radius as we enjoyed the drive to Lavernia, Texas from our home. Then choose a time to visit a coffee shop you have never been to before.