Advice: To give or not to give

I read this poem by Phyllis McGinley in the comments section of a blog. I found it whimsical and sobering and created this graphic, which you are free to share. McGinley  ends her poem: “But do not give advice at all.” The premise of columnist Parker J. Palmer’s blog titled The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice was “Don’t give advice, … Instead, be fully present, listen deeply …”

Giving advice can be a sticky wicket. Which route would you take?


Suicide, Stigma, and Statics

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It doesn’t really get a lot of press. That’s why I wanted to share this blog.

Suicide has been a problem throughout human history. In the recent years, it has started to become something of an epidemic. Suicide rates are increasing.

Statistics tell the story:

  • More than 44,000 individuals die by suicide each year
  • Roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S.
  • Suicide currently ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10 – 24

It’s particularly problematic because people with suicidal thoughts feel as though they are not able to speak to others due to the stigmas surrounding suicide. Too often feelings of shame also prevent “suicide loss survivors,” friends and families affected by a suicide, from talking openly.

Though this month’s emphasis is suicide, it’s worth noting that those stigma feelings are not unique to suicide but encompass all forms of mental illness.National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, works to eliminate the stigma issue and build better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness year round.

On the NAMI website, you’ll find

Informational Resources

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Educating ourselves about mental illness and suicide, in particular, can be the first step toward reducing the stigma and the statistics.


Silver and Gold

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I have discovered that there are many, many breeds of chickens.  I have also come to believe Rachel’s goal is to own one of each breed.

I must admit some are quite pretty.  For example the Silver Laced and Golden Laced Wyandotte chickens are beautiful.






The outlining of their feathers is called “laced.” I think it is wonderful.

I can honestly say I have silver and gold in my back yard.

The  calming, therapeutic value of the chickens is sometimes worth more than the precious metals.


Change and Toads and Caterpillars

I ran across this quote from James A. Pike doing research for my current WIP (that’s work in progress for non-writer types). Naturally, I did a little rabbit chasing because I was unfamiliar with his name.

Turns out James Albert Pike (1913 – 1969) was an American Episcopal bishop, who died while exploring the Wilderness of the Temptation.

His outspoken, and sometimes, heretical views on theological and social issues made him one of the most controversial public figures of his time. Heresy procedures were started several times, but in the end, the Church decided it was not in the denomination’s best interest to pursue an actual heresy trial.

I don’t like to be controversial so I won’t go into Pike’s views. You can do your own research. All I will say is, he was a fascinating man with some very questionable theological views.

But, I think the advice in this meme is good. He aimed to ease anxiety. I think we’d all agree reducing anxiety is a very good thing.

Slow change can be less jarring. Unfortunately, enacting change like a caterpillar moves – slowly, methodically – is not always possible. Events like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, earthquakes, and/or wildfires thrust change upon us very fast. We must move and move quickly. The opportunity to be like the caterpillar isn’t there. We have to move like a toad.

The way I see it – take Pike’s advice when you can otherwise hop like a toad to get out of harm’s way.


What We Did Before the Internet

I received the loveliest letter from a friend I hadn’t seen in years the other day.

Yes, you read that correctly, a LETTER.

She’s didn’t FB. She didn’t message or text or email. She did what we did before the internet. She took out stationery and wrote me a letter.

We’d met on a tour of Ireland four years. She’d come from Texas, and I’d come from Colorado. We laughed a lot, enjoyed great food, and saw wonderful sites. When the tour ended we promised to keep in touch, we did for the first year.

Then, as so often happens, lives got busy, and we lost touch.

She called our old phone number first, but got a recorded voice saying, “The number you dialed is no longer in service.”

Determined to find me, she decided to take a chance and write a letter. She addressed the envelope to my old address, and the Post Office forwarded her note to our new address.It was such a lovely surprise to hear from her and catch up with what’s happening in her world. I answered her letter immediately. Now I’m watching the mail for her reply.

It was such a lovely surprise to hear from her and catch up with what’s happening in her world. I answered her letter immediately. Now I’m watching the mail for her reply.

That’s what we did before the internet. We wrote letters.

You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but the whole episode has made me realize how much I miss good old-fashion letter writing.


Odd Couple

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our neighbors have chickens.  This is ironic because when the house was for sale, the realtor told the previous owners they would have to install a privacy fence because no one would buy a house next to chickens.

Little did that realtor know how tight knit the chicken community is. Anyway, their chickens come to visit sometimes.  We toss them back over the fence and all is well.

Except the one hen who kept returning.  We named her Mrs. Howell and she became part of our flock.

Recently she and Kaboodle, our Polish crested rooster, have become buddies.  They roost together on the top bar in the coop.  They are the last to come out every morning.  I think of them as the king and queen of the chicken yard.  They do make an interesting couple.


11 Surprising Ways to Boost Creativity

Welcome returning guest blogger Jack Milgram. Jack blogs at Top-notch study tips for A+ students. Today he shares some ideas with us about how to boost your creativity. You can read his July blog for View from the Front Porch here.

11 Surprising Ways to Boost Creativity

For those who are engaged in creative professions, there’s no time to wait for inspiration. You should be able to turn your creative thinking on every time you start working.

To attract great ideas when they’re needed most, it’s essential to know some quick tips on how to boost creativity any time.

  1. Solve puzzles.

Imagination always relates to your brain’s productivity, and that’s why it’s essential to train it every day. Highly developed problem-solving skills will help you find new ways to approach different situations.

  1. Go for a walk.

We often forget to look around, while there are so many things there to inspire! Have you ever heard of biomimicry? It’s when designers or scientists find ideas in biological processes. Take a breath of fresh air and try to do the same thing.

  1. Read different genres.

What does it mean to be creative? It means being able to produce new ideas and apply them to various tasks. And where can you find more great ideas than in books? Be interested in all genres—fantasy, classics, romance, detectives, horror, and more.

  1. Turn off the lights.

Research shows that dimmed lighting helps people feel more free. In one experiment, this sense of freedom let the participants perform more creatively. The tip is—don’t try to work when the lights are too bright.

If you’re stuck and can’t start thinking outside the box, try some physical activity. A session of yoga or 20 minutes of jogging can enhance your imagination. This is a universal way to get inspired in a short time.

  1. Follow talented people online.

Almost every artist subscribes to blogs and galleries of other talented people. Just scrolling through your newsfeed on Instagram or Pinterest can inspire you to develop something entirely new. Keep up with those who share your hobby.

  1. Play music or doodle.

If you’re a writer, try painting. If you’re a musician, try to write a novel. Creativity is the ability to broaden your horizons, and you can do so by trying new activities.

  1. Try out some writing prompts.

There’s no opportunity to come up with new ideas when you’re stuck in the same old work routine. For example, if you write about motorcycles every day for half of the year, it’s no surprise that you’ve run out of ideas. What can you do? Try some prompts to boost creativity when writing.

  1. Spend time with friends.

Communication, especially with those who share our interests, is what makes us happy. And happiness increases our chances of thinking creatively. So, go to your friend’s place and watch a movie.

  1. List all your ideas.

Why does brainstorming help us with being creative? Because we don’t judge ourselves or set limitations. We just develop as many ideas as possible. The key thing here is to write all these ideas down. Such an approach helps you find the best solution to any problem.

Sometimes thinking too much can lead you to a dead end. Try to relax and demand nothing from yourself—and you’ll see just how many ideas come to mind when you aren’t concentrating on the topic.


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