I think most of us can agree on a few things:

  • All news today is insanely biased.
  • None of the politicians and people in the media are truly “good guys.”
  • Our students are very confused because they are watching 12-year-olds on tiktok telling them the “previously unknown truths” about history, politics and other things they know nothing about.

And ultimately…

  • They need critical thinking skills now more than any other time in history.

I remember a time when we were taught in teacher’s education school that it is wrong to be political in the classroom. We were encouraged to be unbiased and to encourage all students to do their research and support their various worldviews.

Yeah, that sounds great and all BUT at the same time, the professors in the College of Ed were extremely biased and political. All the while we were taught this, we were also taught that our main objective was to change culture and teach students to be social justice warriors.

I only got out of that place alive because I was a skeptic about everything. Maybe I was born that way. I rarely followed the crowd. For example: I was the only Marine in my entire company of 120 marines who didn’t smoke cigarettes the entire time I was enlisted. Other Marines would sometimes not be smoking, but none of the others were not addicted to some sort of tobacco. So call me an independent thinker if you will.

I like to think that if I was in a superhero movie, I would be the one who doesn’t just run when everyone else is running away. I’d probably pause and get myself killed because a zillion thoughts would be going through my head: What they are running from? Is it logical to run with them if that’s also the direction the thing they are running from is going? Should I stop and do something to help? What if what they are running towards is worse than what they are running from?

Yep, I’ve decided. I would definitely be killed in that first scene. I’d be thinking too long about the options and not reacting quickly enough. But… That’s a true skeptic. We think about all the possibilities before we react or come to a conclusion too quickly which is a great skill except if you find yourself in the first 10 minutes of a superhero movie.

Why Teach Skepticism?

There is so much information thrown at our students, why would they know what to believe?

They have information overload from every area of their lives. They have non-stop videos of randomness on the internet trying to surprise them with “previously unknown information!” They have people trying to tell the “real story” (hear that sarcasm) about stuff the speakers know little about. They spout out half-truths with such confidence and clarity that it’s hard to see through that arrogance and realize that a 12-year-old with zero life experience thinks they know something we don’t know.

My 12-year-old daughter was complaining about homework.

She said“Mom, do you know that they only created homework to punish kids?!?”

Me: “How do you know that?”

Her: “I don’t know. I saw it on a video.”

Me: “Where did they get this information? Is there information about the origin of homework? What point are they trying to make? What do they really want you to do with this information? If you choose to listen to them and don’t do your homework, then maybe you’ll fail. Do you want that?”

Yes, I intentionally go overboard with these types of questions. As a result, I have created 2 children who are major skeptics, too. Is it for the good or for the bad? It is yet to be decided.

The truth is that I agree with her. I am a teacher and I rarely give homework unless it is intended for punishment: they have homework most of the time only if they don’t do the work while they are in class. However, I am not going to send my children out into the world where this “previously unknown information” causes them to be unsuccessful in other classes and situations because their beliefs about the origins of homework is more important than getting it done.

She’s not going to go to her history teacher and tell him, “Well, I found out the origin of homework is for disciplinary reasons, and I did nothing wrong, so I didn’t do the homework.” She knows better than that.

On the other hand, I encourage her to be skeptical and think for herself while still being successful in the crazy world we live in. No matter if the original reason homework was created is for punishment or not, she still needs to do it. But she can also be bitter and angry about feeling like she’s being punished. We still do hard things even if we don’t agree with them.

How to Be a Skeptic

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are a die hard for any political party, politician, or can’t acknowledge the dark side of almost every belief, you might be manipulated… and you’re definitely not a skeptic.

To be a skeptic, you must be willing to do three things:

  1. Acknowledge the dark side of things or people you agree with.
  2. Be willing to give credit to the other side for positive things they do or qualities they have.
  3. Consider that you could be wrong.

Let’s chat about these three things:

Acknowledge the Dark Side of Things or People You Agree With

Is it possible that Obama or Trump (whichever side you prefer) isn’t as perfect as you think he is? Are you willing to acknowledge things that he was wrong about? Are there ways he shouldn’t have acted? Things he did that were selfish and not selfless?

If you can’t acknowledge that there are some things that your guy did wrong, then you are not a skeptic. For us to be logical human beings, we must be able to see through the facade of good words, style, and acknowledge that the way they build up and connect to a crowd may be manipulative. We also must admit that maybe, just maybe they aren’t perfect. *gasp* Surprising, but they can’t be… They are humans, too.

The goal here would be to fully acknowledge moments when they did something completely unacceptable. They pushed the envelope too far. They did something that should cause people to wonder and question whether they are good leaders or not.

If you have a religious or political belief that others in the world disagree with, it’s possible that they have a valid reason they feel the way they do. Religion or religious people can be destructive. They hurt people individually and collectively. There are ways they can use their beliefs to destroy rather than to build up.

I’m a Christian, and I have spent time considering not only other religions but also other eras in which Christian leaders have destroyed other cultures, people, and have caused wars. You can’t study British history without also learning the details of the wars between Protestants and Catholics. They worship the same God, they believe in the same Jesus, yet the wars were bloody. This is just one of many things we cannot ignore in our attempt to be skeptics.

Be Willing to Give Credit to the Other Side for Things They Do, or Qualities They Have

Before I continue with the comparison between Obama and Trump, we must acknowledge that they are more of contenders head-to-head than any other political pair. As a skeptic, I would have loved to see them battle it out for the presidency. It would have been a doozy but would have divided the country so severely that it may have truly led to a war.

Either side you support, you’re thinking the other guy would have no chance, but unfortunately, you’re wrong. It would have been a battle between the ENTIRE fleet of Avengers and Thanos… you get to decide which is the good guy and which is the bad. It would be an epic battle.

Both of these guys have qualities the other doesn’t have and some qualities they share. They both had the ability to unite a subgroup of Americans. No, neither united the entire country or much more than 50% of the country. No president receives much more than 1–3 percent more than 50% of the votes. No matter who wins, there is always about 48% of voters who are angry and frustrated. Let me make it clear: NO political figure will unite the country. It is not possible with people with such vast worldviews, beliefs, religions and cultures in the U.S. If a politician pretends that they are going to unify the country, we should know they are lying or will be declared a liar eventually.

Both guys have the ability to speak to the hearts and minds of their audience. They do it in different ways. Obama is a skilled speaker who has refined and built his speaking skills through practice and being trained by the best but also enhancing his God-given skills of persuasion. Watch him: His pauses are strategic. His calmness puts people in a meditative state. His presence is strong but easy to receive by many.

Trump is a powerful presence. His past experience as a billionaire-celebrity has caused him to know how to speak to the elites without being bought out by them. He says what he wants. He’s not Politically Correct. He speaks powerfully and unabashedly, exactly the way his audience receives his words. They don’t want to be talked to sweetly, they want to be united and empowered and that’s what he does.

It may be hard to acknowledge the other side of a tough issue, but it is part of being a skeptic. We must be able to acknowledge that there’s a reason people disagree with us. We must be able to come to an agreement and give the other side credit for why they have their opinions. If we don’t, we are bashing into one another’s horns like bulls and will continue to see the division grow and expand into possible war or destruction of our country.

Consider That You Could Be Wrong

That sentence may have caused you to lose your mind… “I could be wrong?!? How could she even mention that?!? There’s no way!!” Juuuuust kidding. If you were like that, you wouldn’t have made it through the Trump/Obama comparison. Most likely, you agree with me and are excited that someone is finally saying it.

Yes, as much as you could be wrong, I could be wrong, too. I could be wrong about everything I believe. We could be spawns of alien overlords who planted our human seeds and cultivated a planet to watch for their own entertainment. They could be watching us like Jim Carey on The Truman Show. My ideas of skepticism could be planted in my head while I think they are my own original ideas but were put there by my alien parents to throw my readers into a new level of thinking critically. Who knows?!?

But seriously. Have you ever deep-dive questioned your faith? Have you spoken to an abortion survivor or a person who was raped and felt like abortion was their only way out? Have you ever served at a homeless shelter and seen the tragedy of the world that we’ve created through bad decisions, laws? Have you acknowledged the innate desire for people who don’t live in tragedy to ignore those in desperate situations? Have you ever been outside of the country and seen the injustice, prejudice, racism, and other phobias that occur in most of the world?

Being aware of how the world works doesn’t justify our own injustices, but it should cause us to consider if it’s a problem within our country or it is a problem with our humanity.

For some reason we have this “difficulty” of uniting with people who are the same as us, those who agree with the way we view the world. We have all these labels for a reason: American, Indian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Sudanese, Mexican, Puerto Rican. We are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist. We are Californians, Phoenicians, Arkansans, Floridians. We are Republican, Democrats, Libertarians. We have interests: readers, writers, historians, scientists.

When we have these labels, that causes others to become “OTHERS.” They become unlike us and therefore, in many scenarios, they become the enemy. They don’t think like us. They don’t want the same things for the country, for family, for individuals, for our future. They want different things that will ruin everything we’ve worked for. They will take us back 20 years. They will hinder the growth that we desire. They will stop us from living the life we desire.

But what if your side is wrong? What if all the ways you identify yourself is causing you to feel above everyone else? What if your identity is stopping you from validating the possibility that others, in their place in life, their culture, country, and city, may be right? That if you weren’t born in your skin but theirs, that you might have a different way of thinking. That you’re thinking that you have the right perspective and are blessed because you actually understand the situation “more” than them is circumstantial and has nothing to do with you but where you were born and what family you were born into.

What To Do:

This is what I teach my students. I don’t always make it as obvious as my explanation above, but I try my hardest to teach critical thinking and to teach them to become skeptics about everything. They must learn to break down their thinking, wonder why they believe what they believe, have sufficient evidence for it and support their claims using that evidence.

This generation’s problem with writing well, I believe, has nothing to do with being unable to write, but having nothing worthwhile to say. When I teach students to write, I first teach them how to think. That way when they have a pen in their hands or a computer in front of them, they can’t help but explode with excitement. They finally feel like they have something to say that’s worth reading.

Over time they become bold and are able to argue their points tactfully, thoughtfully, and logically. Let me tell you… it’s a fight at first. Many of them don’t want to think for themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I hear them say, “But Miss, just tell me what to write.” I respond each time, “I can’t do that… tell me what you think you might want to write…” and the real conversation begins.

You might not know how to begin this conversation. That conversation in my class begins with the topic of Rhetoric. I have some articles on rhetoric and resources. This is where you can begin. I am working on other resources for you to use in the classroom. It will motivate me more to complete these and provide them to you if I know it’s what you want, so let me know in a comment or message.

You’re welcome to check out my TPT page to see if any resources could help you get started but be looking out for more on this topic!!

Original Post on Medium

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for entrepreneurs who have never taught before…

<span>Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@brookelark?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCo

A ton of you want to teach an online course, maybe you started it, you most likely have a TON of content, but you have gotten stuck. Most likely because you have never taught before and are just getting overwhelmed with what to say and how to say it.

As a curriculum developer for online courses for over 3 years now helping dozens of entrepreneurs get their chaos out of their head into a clearly outlined online training, I see the struggles people have. Let’s break down some of those key tips you should learn now about educating people online.

1. Talk to one person.

When you are filming yourself talking, look into the camera, and try to visualize one person that needs this. If you have someone in mind, awesome. If not, create that person in your mind. Imagine them with the needs, the questions, the misconceptions, and the goals of your perfect client. Each member of your audience should feel like you are talking directly to them.

2. Give examples and stories from your own experience.

Don’t be afraid to go off with examples and stories of your own. People love stories and examples. Just try not to turn your entire training into stories with no direct connection to what you are teaching. Make sure that after each story you reiterate how it connects to what you’re teaching.

3. Turn your points into questions you are answering.

Many of you, especially those who are good speakers, can do interviews and answer questions extremely well. You may find yourself stuck when you see a slide that just has an outline. Instead of a regular PowerPoint slide, turn those slides into questions so that you can answer a question like you would in person. There is no one way to do it, so try it out to see if it works better for you.

4. Don’t be afraid to tell them what to do.

They are taking this course to learn what to do and how to do it; therefore, be bold enough to give them assignments and have high expectations for their work. You can give them variations or options, but ask them to produce what you are telling them to. Don’t condescend them, but assume they are self-motivated and are in your class for a reason… that said, they should have no problem with doing what you ask.

5. Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself.

It may be surprising to some of you but too many people have a fear of repeating themselves or they lack the ability to repeat themselves effectively. Repetition is vital to a good education.

One of the ways we repeat ourselves is through key points that must be driven into the audience’s minds. The other way to repeat ourselves is by addressing a point through various lenses. Imagine a course on social media ads. There can be three different video instructions on only Facebook ads: a beginning, intermediate, and advanced lesson. Repeat yourself by “reminding them” of what they should know or should have learned in the previous lessons.

6. Tell them who they are or what they may be thinking.

There are always 3 options that your audience can think about anything you say: they can agree with you, they can disagree with you, or they don’t care or haven’t made a decision. Additionally, they are who you think they are, you are wrong about your judgment of them, or a variation of both.

These statements might sound silly, but they can be important in building a solid connection to your audience. At any given time they will understand, not understand, or not really know yet. Because of this, we can address these three variables. As teachers, we know that some people in our audience will not know or not understand at all; that’s okay. We will also have people in our audience that will already know many of the things we say; that’s okay, too. We will have people in our audience that haven’t really decided yet; that’s also okay.

If you work to understand these three groups and speak to them, you will be surprised at how deep your connection to your audience can become.

7. Most people don’t care enough to learn, they’d rather it be done for them.

Can we just admit it? People are lazy. People, as a whole, don’t want to do anything. Wouldn’t we all rather have the money to be well fed with all the luxurious amenities and never work again?!? That’s why the lottery is a zillion-dollar business. People don’t want to do anything if they don’t have to, but they only do things to get the result they want.

This truth doesn’t mean we need to make it easy for them, cut corners, or treat them badly. It means that we know that they have a limited amount of time, they also have issues with follow-through, and they need a result fast. And if you can offer a DIY piece of your training for them, then do it… knowing they don’t really want to become an expert in the subject.

8. Not everyone will be as successful as you.

That sounds horrible to say as a teacher. Of course, we all know that everyone has unlimited potential. We know that anyone can do anything they want to do. We also know that you were successful even when the odds were against you. BUT the truth is if they will be successful, then they will be no matter what. Our job isn’t to make them as successful as you, although some may become as successful or more, our job is to equip them with skills, mindset, and opportunities to be successful in what THEY want to do.

We may find that what THEY want to do isn’t exactly what we think it will be or that they won’t need EVERYTHING we could give them. We aren’t trying to make mini-USes. We are trying to meet them where they are and provide them opportunities to learn and grow into something they need.

9. People will respect the expert, YOU, so live up to their expectations.

People are looking to you for your expertise, experience, and guidance. They don’t know what it could look like. They don’t really want to do it or learn it. BUT they believe you can help them, so don’t disappoint them by not offering them a way to work with you.

I have online courses teaching people how to write curriculum. I have blogs that teach different aspects of teaching. I have done free videos teaching people step-by-step how to do it, but you know what I’ve found out? People don’t want to learn how to write curriculum. It’s not something they are interested in investing time to learn. They want it done for them and they look to me to help them. They respect my knowledge, expertise, and guidance.

Often, I have people who figuratively dump years’ worth of content on my lap, and they say, “Jess, I trust you. Just turn it into something I can do something with so I can finally finish.” This is a great place to be. They need something, and I have the answer. Same for you. You have something they need. Don’t disappoint them by not offering it to them.

10. These things aren’t necessary for you to tell them but to know and use.

As you can imagine, people don’t like to be called lazy, careless, or any other criticisms I have mentioned. Truthfully, we can all say that about ourselves: “Even though I COULD learn [insert any topic], I’m too lazy to put any effort into it, but I would love to have the results of being good at it.” But knowing these as you walk into a training session or recording your online course can help you be a better teacher.

Teachers are extremely optimistic about our students, but we are also realistic. We know who our students are, where they are coming from, and what they want. Our job is to get them as close to their goal, and our goal, as we can. I want you to be able to teach your audience authentically, effectively, but ultimately I just want you to teach them. I tell my clients, “You’re being selfish if you don’t share this info and give them an opportunity to learn from you.”

Are you that person who has years of content ready to be turned into an online course? Do you need help with piecing it together into a curriculum that connects to your audience and “transforms them from not knowing to knowing or from not doing to doing?”

Connect to me through my website: Jessicalmoody.com or email me directly at hello@jessicalmoody.com.

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Thrivewriteeducation.com

Diction, imagery, tone, theme, characterization, structure, and syntax. These are the classic literature elements that we teachers teach every year and still, many students don’t get it. What do we do about it? What’s the point of us reteaching something they don’t understand or ever use again? I think we are all missing the real point.

thrivewriteeducation.com

The real point is one word: Rhetoric.

Anything written and published is ultimately used to persuade or argue.

  • Articles are used to persuade you to believe that the author is knowledgeable and that you should believe their perspective, their purpose, and ultimately desire to follow them for more information.
  • Short stories and novels are used to make you follow a person or group of people to understand their worldview so you change the way you think about those people. They could also be used to entertain you to persuade you to follow the author and recommend the content to others.
  • Content published in pop culture like music, plays, shows, and movies are all made to change culture. They criticize politicians, make moral claims, and give you hope or a new perspective on a common human experience.

Every published word can be analyzed for rhetoric.

Rhetoric is the art of arguing or persuading. When rhetoric is used, all the literary elements must be considered:

  • Diction, or word choice, is used for the specific purpose and objective of the piece. Each word matters to create a feeling, understanding, and new belief about a subject.
  • The imagery shown within the text influences the images the audience sees in their heads and their belief about the event and subject.
The art of arguing or persuading is Rhetoric
  • The tone, the “sound” of the content, is created specifically to get the audience to receive the mood that influences the audience’s emotions about the topic.
  • The theme is the ultimate moral or takeaway that the author wants the audience to believe about the subject.
  • Characterization: The author creates characters in fiction or highlights people in nonfiction (and omits characters or people) to get you to see the perspective they want you to see and believe about the event, subject, or character.
  • The structure (overall layout of the piece) and syntax (sentence structure) are used to create a specific experience the author intends to get the audience to connect to and agree with the author about the topic.
thrivewriteeducation.com

At all times, the author is in control of these literary elements. The authors make choices to create the content ONE WAY so that if they change it to another way, they have a different objective they want the readers to experience.

Some examples include:

  • Politically-focused writers portray those characters with the same political beliefs in a way to make them victims to the evil side’s misguided beliefs.
  • Authors write fiction stories and novels with a world-view that they believe is true; they make the protagonist struggle to overcome the challenges that the antagonist with the opposite worldview has. Often the antagonist tries to control and manipulate the protagonist and causes them to rise up within their belief system to show the world (or the readers) that they are the ones that are more correct.
  • Musicians create sound and lyrics that affect the emotions of their audience by writing about events their listeners will understand and connect to so that they can inspire them to continue on the path the artist wants them to go on.

Are you a teacher or homeschool parent? I have had great success teaching rhetoric to high school students. The concept doesn’t have to be daunting or impossible. The students are excited and interested in literature now that I’ve introduced these concepts. It’s all worth the time and effort and it really doesn’t take as much time as you think. Teaching rhetoric gets them to understand WHY they are analyzing the purpose, audience, and appeals. It makes my entire year better. I created a resource to teach rhetoric just for you here!

Everything written is used to argue or influence an audience. Even this. Did I convince you?

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Running from God

How Jonah is the prophet we mimic the most…

Recently, God has brought me to the Book of Jonah. I thought it was strange because in my memory, Jonah is a pretty crappy prophet. All he did was run from God and when he finally submitted to the task that God had for him, he was annoyed and told God that he would rather God strike him dead than to save the people of Nineveh. How much worse can you get?

Jonah sounds like a child complaining to his parent about being forced to do something they don’t want to do. In order of events:

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. I don’t want to!! I’m not gonna!!Jonah got on a boat to go the opposite way. Haha, I got away. I’m going to take a nap and relax now. God sent a storm so bad that the crew started freaking out. They found out that Jonah was to blame. Okay, okay. It’s my fault. Just throw me overboard, so I will die. While in the ocean, a whale swallowed him and he was in the belly of the whale for 3 days and 3 nights. Lord, if you save me I will obey you. There are others, like those evil Ninevites, that don’t listen to you. I know you and know that Salvation only comes from You. The whale spit Jonah out on the shore and God told him to go to Nineveh again. Okay, fine. I’ll go, but only because You told me to.

Jonah walked through the city of Nineveh for 3 days saying, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The people fasted and repented. Jonah told the King to proclaim a fast and said, “Who knows, God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” God saw that they turned from their evil ways and relented. Jonah left, sat on a hill and angrily watched the city waiting for God to destroy it. Ugh, Lord!! I knew you would do that!! I knew you would be gracious and compassionate, but it’s better for you to kill me than for you to save those evil people! 

God felt sorry that Jonah was sitting in the heat and grew a leafy plant to protect him from the sun. 

Yey, thanks for the shade! Now I can sit out here and watch You destroy them!! Then the plant was eaten by a worm. Just let me die!!

God asks, “Is it right that you are angry about the plant?” 

Ugh, I’m so angry that I wish I would die!! 

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left–and also many animals?”

My reaction: What in the world, Lord? What does this have to do with me? I’m not Jonah; you have saved me and I would never want to get in the way of you saving anyone else.

Him: But you are him. You have been fighting me every step of the way in the plan that I have for you. Every time I try to get closer to you and lead you, you shut down emotionally and stop talking to Me. You only talk to Me when you think that I have given you the okay to go the path that you have planned out. Then every time your plan doesn’t work out, you run away from Me and pout.

Huh? Oh, huh… yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing. Once again, the path that I assumed was the door that God opened for me has shut in my face. The job that I did all the paperwork for and was honestly only doing it because it paid really well (I had no passion or concern for it) has not worked out. To be honest, I’m pretty annoyed about it. Not because it was my dream job or that I cared in the least about working there. I’m pissed because once again, the door opened but slammed in my face as soon as I moved to step through the doorway.

The truth is though, I knew the whole time I went though the job process that it wasn’t right for me. I am not the type of person who would keep a job just because it pays well. Especially when it comes to people. No parent wants a teacher for their child who is just there for a paycheck, and that is what I would have been.

What I know is that God is putting me on a different path than teaching K-12 English. I don’t know exactly what it is yet, but I do know that He has been giving me hints and has put a passion in my heart that can’t exactly explain. He has put ideas in my head that don’t necessarily relate right now.

I want Him to tell me why I’m doing these seemingly random things. I want to plan, but He wants me to be obedient in what He has given me now and to slow down. He is working on my heart. He is preparing me for the next step. He’s asking me to stop striving and sprinting towards every open door and to ask Him to tell me yes or no before I move.

But He also is asking me to stop complaining about every step. He’s humbling me to wait for Him and to submit to His plan.

Lord, You know that as soon as I feel You trying to lead me somewhere unfamiliar or contrary to where I want to go, I pull away and run from You. I am afraid of the plan You have for me. I am afraid that I can’t trust what I think you are saying to me. That I will misinterpret it and go on the wrong path, or that I will hear it right but it might make my life harder than it already is. But ultimately, I trust You. I trust Your provision and protection. I trust that Your plan for my life is better than anything that I could come up with. Please, lift me from the miry clay and lead me where You know I should go. Thank You for Your grace, guidance, and sometimes discipline that You have used as a wake-up call for me. I pray that You give me strength and peace that comes only from You. Amen.

Does this relate to you? If you’d like to find out more about seeking God even in the midst of chaos, confusion, and frustration while identifying what God has called you to do where you are right now in your life, check out the 5 Days to Pursue Your Calling Journal HERE.

originally published HERE

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The Story of Intimacy

When people describe our Christian walk as a journey, they aren’t kidding. 

About 3 years ago is when my depth with God changed to another level.  I was at the pit of despair with my life, my family, and every part of my life.  I realized at that time that I had zero control over the outcome of my life and that I needed to stop fighting for control.  I needed to do the cliché’ “Let go and let God.”

My life was crumbling around me piece by piece, but God replaced every confusion with a solution.  I look back now and see that before I even had a question, he had provided an answer.  He was setting the stage for everything to change.

Bit by bit, he brought the right people into my life.  A woman who had been through my struggles, then another who had similar struggles but the outcome was a little bit different, and then another and another.  Suddenly I had women all around me who knew exactly what I was going through and I could depend on them to help me see my situation clearly.

Then God brought me to a scripture.  I wish I could pinpoint exactly how I came upon this scripture.  If I could dramatize it a minute I would say that he put the name Abigail in my head.  I didn’t know why but it lead me to the scriptures.  I needed to find out who she was and why she was so special.  As I read her story, I realized that… I… am… Abigail.  And if I don’t do something drastic, I, and my family, will be destroyed.  So I took a step of action, wrote a letter of appeal, and I found out months later that this letter was indeed what saved me and my children from getting removed from our home until we could find a better solution.

Each step of this path, He provided exactly what I needed.  Each step, I took blindly without knowing exactly where I was stepping.  Each step, he slid the path under my foot as I stepped down.

3 years into the future from here…

I have back-slidden to a point where I can’t go any farther.  I am lost and resentful and worst of all, I haven’t heard from God in a while.  He is everything.  He is the reason I am anything.  I have become a negative, gossiping, surviving woman (only describing myself here) and I don’t like it.  I don’t want to be this way.  I don’t want to strive and feel like a victim and hold resentment against people and not be in constant communication with God.

I am His beloved, but I haven’t been acting like it.  I am forgiven, but I have been holding on to my insecurities and believing that it is okay to be lukewarm and taking dips into the world sometimes.  He is my husband, (Is. 54:5) but I have been searching for companionship and a man outside of His will.  I have been basking in the world and what it has to offer, and it has left me empty.

This always happens when I begin to boast about what I have contributed to this relationship with God.  As if it has anything to do with me.  You know what I have to contribute to my relationship with God?!? Nothing!  I have been accepted by the one who is perfect, who forgives, who is the sacrificer and the sacrifice, who is the promiser and the promise, He is the beginning and the end.  He is it!!  That’s all.

This journey is a constant cycle.

I push forward in my own agenda for my life.  I strive and control and try to make things happen.  I become resentful when it doesn’t happen the way I want it to.  I get angry and try to control more.  I strive and push.  During this time of striving, I try to have a half relationship with God. Almost as if, I’m asking Him to make my will be done.  This goes on for months, years, or sometimes if I’m lucky only days.  I finally give up.  I let go. I am left with no choice.

And He meets me exactly where I am.  EVERY TIME!!

So here I am again.  Letting go.  I don’t want to continue on this path of unforgiveness, of anger, of resentment, of gossip, of being the same.  I want YOUR will to be done in my life. 

You know I have no idea what that is.  NO IDEA! Lord, I wish I had an idea of what you want.  I don’t see a way out.  I don’t see any solution.  It is not clear at all.  NO IDEA!!  

Give me the path.  I don’t need to see it clearly, but I do need You to lead me on the right one.  If I have steered off too far, lead me back.  I have no idea what I need to do.  Please guide me in the way ONLY You know how to.  Please give me peace about it, so that I don’t strive and try to take over.  I trust Your plan for my life.  I have ruined everything once again.  Take over, Lord.  I trust You. Amen.

Does this relate to you? If you’d like to find out more about seeking God even in the midst of chaos, confusion, and frustration while identifying what God has called you to do where you are right now in your life, check out the 5 Days to Pursue Your Calling Journal HERE.

Originally published HERE

Also Published on Medium Here.

1 thought on “The Story of Intimacy”

  1. I’ve been through a few phases similar to that in my life, and I’m sure I’ll go through more as time goes on. Probably the darkest/most difficult time was when I was a teenager, and my family life basically imploded. There were a lot of personal and financial issues going on with my parents, we uprooted and moved to a small town in a different state where everyone knew me (the new girl) but I didn’t know them, and to top it all off – my sister and closest friend didn’t move with us. I questioned God a lot, doubted his plans and his purpose, and found myself in a place of impassiveness I had never experienced before. But, like you said, God was there waiting for me, ready with open arms for my return, and after that was a period of closeness with the Holy Spirit that to this day still astounds me. It’s another cliché, but God really does work in mysterious ways, and because of this, I know He never fails and will never leave me behind. And that knowledge has kept me going time and time again.

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You couldn’t believe how many prospects call me (a curriculum developer and education consultant) embarrassed to ask me for help with creating their course curriculum. People have this wrong perception that just because they are an expert in a subject, they should be able to create a course or workshop and teach it… and there is nothing farther from the truth.

Knowing a topic and teaching are two completely different things

Most people can work one-on-one with individuals because that individual is able to ask them on-the-spot questions and the teacher can train based on what they see and understand about what the individual needs to know and do.

It is a completely different thing to teach a group of people who all come from different backgrounds, knowledge on the topic, goals for knowing the topic, and guiding them to a similar result.

Because of this barrier, I often spend the first few minutes of each prospect call just explaining how and why their frustration is normal and that I have teachers and even instructional designers as my clients all the time.

All that said, I wanted to give you some tips on what to do to get used to teaching and making the transition to online courses easier and give you more confidence to push forward and not let your fears and insecurities stop you.

Teach In-Person

“By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn.”

Italian proverb

There is no hack to becoming a better teacher than just doing it. If you would have asked me in my first three years if I could do what I’m doing now, I promise I wouldn’t believe it.

I struggled with writing curriculum. I struggled with teaching articulately. I struggled with almost all aspects of teaching. But as a Marine, I’m always motivated by any opportunity to overcome a challenge.

What changed this? 177 days per year for over 6 years teaching the most difficult audience there is: teenagers. But truth be told, it was hard. I could tell some crazy stories, but that’s for another time.

I got better and made my weaknesses into a strength through simply doing it over and over again and not stopping. I realized what did and didn’t work. I retaught. I changed what I said, how I said it and WHEN I said it.

I risked.

I am not a safe teacher when it comes to curriculum. I am very risky and test out lessons and strategies that most teachers would avoid because of fear or just unbelief that it will work.

I am also extremely authentic, and I learn with the students. I tell them my thinking, what I wonder, how I think during activities, and try to put myself in their shoes.

Although I am referring to my experience teaching teens, these concepts can be adapted to any audience.

And I don’t care if I make a fool of myself because I get to teach them that not everything you try works, and it’s okay to risk and fail because sometimes those risks will be rewarded more than playing safe all the time.

Teaching in-person gives you the opportunity to get to know your potential audience at a deeper level than your peers or others in your niche.

Bring your whole self into the classroom: your weaknesses, your experiences, your thinking, your authenticity. Be fully you and see how people flock to transparency more than perfection.

Visualize

Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.

Robert Collier

Visualizing is a lost art. Imagination and quiet time have been replaced with 24/7 screen time or entertainment. Someone said recently that the lack of boredom will be detrimental to the next generation.

Spending time visualizing your content, in whatever form you make it, can help you with efficiency, making it streamlined and seeing and preventing problems before they start.

For each project I create, I spend 1/10th of the time visualizing what it will look like. I look at it from all directions. I think about the variables, I wonder what people will see and experience. I see it in my mind and walk through the process before I set myself in front of a computer to complete it.

Let’s take this blog. I am on a plane right now about to surprise one of my best friends for her 40th birthday. I just busted out a blog post and didn’t want to stop, so I kept going. After I wrote the intro to this post, I felt like I could keep going but I really needed to stop. I closed my eyes for a good 15 minutes and let myself drift. I wasn’t consciously thinking about this project but letting the ideas come to the surface rather than trying to force them out.

Right before I drifted off to sleep my eyes popped open, I grabbed my computer and I was ready. And here you are now.

Try it with your next project and share your results.

Practice

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection.”

― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

Obviously if we want to get better at something we must practice. But it’s crazy that people think they should be (or embarrassed that they are not) amazing at teaching when they have zero experience in teaching.

Maybe they have a podcast; that is different than teaching. Maybe they are a dynamic speaker; that is different than teaching. Maybe they have 5 books published; that is different than teaching.

Teaching is teaching and is different than speaking. Why? Because teaching requires not just motivating a crowd, but training them to do something they haven’t done before and most of the time requires much more than one hour of amazing speaking, one book, or one podcast.

I tell people that I love teaching because it requires me to me so many things: I get to be a comedian, an actress, a storyteller, a speaker, a writer, an interviewer, a surveyor, an analyzer/critic, an editor, a trainer, a creator, and much more.

On any given day I am putting on five different hats, and I absolutely love it. This variety of experience is one of the reasons why I think I am successful at helping people create and teach their own curriculum on their own subjects.

When you do get a chance to practice, keep a journal before and after teaching: what worked, what didn’t work, what you will improve on, what questions they had, what things they seemed to struggle with understanding, moments when their eyes glossed over because they were either bored or they didn’t understand, and any other moments that you’d like to learn from.

These reflections will help you improve dramatically.

Create a Script

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

– Mark Twain (Tweet this)

This may seem a little off-topic, but I absolutely love Mark Twain. He is one of the most authentic storytellers there is. If you want to become a better speaker, storyteller or writer, I highly suggest reading Mark Twain’s short stories. They will not only have you cracking up, but you will learn from one of the best.

All that said, some of the worst speakers I’ve ever heard are those who think they don’t need a script. Those speakers who might seem to be natural speakers but they are all over the place in their topics and they let their subconscious take over the entire time they are speaking or teaching.

You can see that during their preparation they only created an outline of one or two points, and when they got in front of the crowd they just started talking without knowing where they were going and why.

Some people in the audience might be able to pick up a few things they said, but overall the speech was a disaster.

Truth moment: people don’t mind and actually prefer knowing where the teaching is going before you get there. They actually don’t want to be surprised at the direction you are going with it, and there are times that you can effectively “preach to the choir” and still have an impactful training.

That’s why having a script written with milestones, points and example stories is vital to having a successful teaching moment for your audience.

As you get more and more experience, the script won’t be as necessary but will still help your focus and process through each training.

Please don’t do the improv model unless you’re Drew Cary or Wayne Brady.

Let It Flow

Let it become what it’s supposed to be not what you think it will be.

-Jessica L. Moody

This quote is what I say to prospects before committing to work with me. See, since I create curriculum and programs, I can see that not all information is right for a static online course.

Sometimes when I chat with clients, we realize that, no, this isn’t a course. It’s a podcast. And right away, we shift gears to turning the content into a podcast that oftentimes will become a course in the future.

But if we have in our head, “I want to make a course, and I will not budge!!” We might find that we are creating a course prematurely or trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Not one time have we completely flipped gears and turned a course into a podcast or something else and had my client be angry about it. When we change gears on the direction we are going with the content, it always is an aha moment for the client to realize they were looking at their content all wrong and actually changing the format is the right decision.

The process that I go through is finding out who my clients are and what impact they want to make, who they are talking to and what is the easiest way for them to communicate help with making it become what it’s supposed to be. Then we look at the content and make the most logical course of action based on all the factors.

More often than not, they say stuff like, “Jessica, you’re right. It is a podcast. I’ve been wanting to make a podcast but I haven’t been sure what to do it on. Now I am clear!”

Be Okay With Imperfect

No course is ever perfect when it launches. If you try to make your course perfect before you launch, you will NEVER launch. It’s okay to start with an initial version of your course that you improve on after receiving feedback from your students.

– Daniel Milner, Make TV Easy

No course is perfect, and the more you overthink it, the less chance you have to finish it.

I know, I know that you want it to be good, people to see you as credible, and for it to be a success. I know.

It’s important for it to be well done, thorough and reflect who you are as a creator and business owner, and I will always be the one to give you strategies on how to improve, but any tips I give is nothing if you don’t ever get your expert knowledge out there.

That’s why I always tell you to map out the process that you’ll have to take to get all of your projects done. What will you need that you don’t have? How close is it to you living in your natural talents? What are the barriers and are they achievable to overcome in a reasonable amount of time?

When you see the process and the answers to these questions review, visualize, and make a decision on the best route to take. Do the thing that is the easiest and the best use of your time, get it done and launch it…. even if it’s not perfect.

The beauty of launching before it’s perfect is that you can go back and update or fix it. You will also have experience under your belt. Experience in creating and launching a course (or another thing that it became, see above) is that you can do it again because you’ve learned the process and you’ve overcome many barriers.

You will also establish credibility because you have a course and others in your niche don’t. You will have a course to offer to those who can’t afford your one-on-one services. You can be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. And most of all, you put your genius knowledge out there to positively impact and influence others who need it.

I would love to hear the one above that spoke to you the most.

Want to join the monthly Mastermind group that teaches you how to build an entire online educational program??

Original Article Posted Here

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for entrepreneurs who have never taught before…

<span>Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@brookelark?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCo

A ton of you want to teach an online course, maybe you started it, you most likely have a TON of content, but you have gotten stuck. Most likely because you have never taught before and are just getting overwhelmed with what to say and how to say it.

As a curriculum developer for online courses for over 3 years now helping dozens of entrepreneurs get their chaos out of their head into a clearly outlined online training, I see the struggles people have. Let’s break down some of those key tips you should learn now about educating people online.

1. Talk to one person.

When you are filming yourself talking, look into the camera, and try to visualize one person that needs this. If you have someone in mind, awesome. If not, create that person in your mind. Imagine them with the needs, the questions, the misconceptions, and the goals of your perfect client. Each member of your audience should feel like you are talking directly to them.

2. Give examples and stories from your own experience.

Don’t be afraid to go off with examples and stories of your own. People love stories and examples. Just try not to turn your entire training into stories with no direct connection to what you are teaching. Make sure that after each story you reiterate how it connects to what you’re teaching.

3. Turn your points into questions you are answering.

Many of you, especially those who are good speakers, can do interviews and answer questions extremely well. You may find yourself stuck when you see a slide that just has an outline. Instead of a regular PowerPoint slide, turn those slides into questions so that you can answer a question like you would in person. There is no one way to do it, so try it out to see if it works better for you.

4. Don’t be afraid to tell them what to do.

They are taking this course to learn what to do and how to do it; therefore, be bold enough to give them assignments and have high expectations for their work. You can give them variations or options, but ask them to produce what you are telling them to. Don’t condescend them, but assume they are self-motivated and are in your class for a reason… that said, they should have no problem with doing what you ask.

5. Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself.

It may be surprising to some of you but too many people have a fear of repeating themselves or they lack the ability to repeat themselves effectively. Repetition is vital to a good education.

One of the ways we repeat ourselves is through key points that must be driven into the audience’s minds. The other way to repeat ourselves is by addressing a point through various lenses. Imagine a course on social media ads. There can be three different video instructions on only Facebook ads: a beginning, intermediate, and advanced lesson. Repeat yourself by “reminding them” of what they should know or should have learned in the previous lessons.

6. Tell them who they are or what they may be thinking.

There are always 3 options that your audience can think about anything you say: they can agree with you, they can disagree with you, or they don’t care or haven’t made a decision. Additionally, they are who you think they are, you are wrong about your judgment of them, or a variation of both.

These statements might sound silly, but they can be important in building a solid connection to your audience. At any given time they will understand, not understand, or not really know yet. Because of this, we can address these three variables. As teachers, we know that some people in our audience will not know or not understand at all; that’s okay. We will also have people in our audience that will already know many of the things we say; that’s okay, too. We will have people in our audience that haven’t really decided yet; that’s also okay.

If you work to understand these three groups and speak to them, you will be surprised at how deep your connection to your audience can become.

7. Most people don’t care enough to learn, they’d rather it be done for them.

Can we just admit it? People are lazy. People, as a whole, don’t want to do anything. Wouldn’t we all rather have the money to be well fed with all the luxurious amenities and never work again?!? That’s why the lottery is a zillion-dollar business. People don’t want to do anything if they don’t have to, but they only do things to get the result they want.

This truth doesn’t mean we need to make it easy for them, cut corners, or treat them badly. It means that we know that they have a limited amount of time, they also have issues with follow-through, and they need a result fast. And if you can offer a DIY piece of your training for them, then do it… knowing they don’t really want to become an expert in the subject.

8. Not everyone will be as successful as you.

That sounds horrible to say as a teacher. Of course, we all know that everyone has unlimited potential. We know that anyone can do anything they want to do. We also know that you were successful even when the odds were against you. BUT the truth is if they will be successful, then they will be no matter what. Our job isn’t to make them as successful as you, although some may become as successful or more, our job is to equip them with skills, mindset, and opportunities to be successful in what THEY want to do.

We may find that what THEY want to do isn’t exactly what we think it will be or that they won’t need EVERYTHING we could give them. We aren’t trying to make mini-USes. We are trying to meet them where they are and provide them opportunities to learn and grow into something they need.

9. People will respect the expert, YOU, so live up to their expectations.

People are looking to you for your expertise, experience, and guidance. They don’t know what it could look like. They don’t really want to do it or learn it. BUT they believe you can help them, so don’t disappoint them by not offering them a way to work with you.

I have online courses teaching people how to write curriculum. I have blogs that teach different aspects of teaching. I have done free videos teaching people step-by-step how to do it, but you know what I’ve found out? People don’t want to learn how to write curriculum. It’s not something they are interested in investing time to learn. They want it done for them and they look to me to help them. They respect my knowledge, expertise, and guidance.

Often, I have people who figuratively dump years’ worth of content on my lap, and they say, “Jess, I trust you. Just turn it into something I can do something with so I can finally finish.” This is a great place to be. They need something, and I have the answer. Same for you. You have something they need. Don’t disappoint them by not offering it to them.

10. These things aren’t necessary for you to tell them but to know and use.

As you can imagine, people don’t like to be called lazy, careless, or any other criticisms I have mentioned. Truthfully, we can all say that about ourselves: “Even though I COULD learn [insert any topic], I’m too lazy to put any effort into it, but I would love to have the results of being good at it.” But knowing these as you walk into a training session or recording your online course can help you be a better teacher.

Teachers are extremely optimistic about our students, but we are also realistic. We know who our students are, where they are coming from, and what they want. Our job is to get them as close to their goal, and our goal, as we can. I want you to be able to teach your audience authentically, effectively, but ultimately I just want you to teach them. I tell my clients, “You’re being selfish if you don’t share this info and give them an opportunity to learn from you.”

Are you that person who has years of content ready to be turned into an online course? Do you need help with piecing it together into a curriculum that connects to your audience and “transforms them from not knowing to knowing or from not doing to doing?”

Connect to me through my website: Jessicalmoody.com or email me directly at hello@jessicalmoody.com.

Originally Published on Medium: https://jessicalmoodywriter.medium.com/tips-for-teaching-online-75ca06362891

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Online Course Audience Connection

I ask a ton of questions. As a business owner who works with many one-on-one clients, I realize that the needs of each client greatly vary. Some clients simply want it done for them or don’t mind being told clearly what to do and what next steps we will take, others respond well through question/answer sessions, and others take guidance and run with it… sometimes faster than I was expecting.

Many people find out their audience’s needs through finding out through struggling through what are NOT their needs. Basically, we find out what they do want, by weeding out what they don’t want. This can be identified by creating theoretical service packages and testing them or asking for feedback. This process of creating a package or series of packages that your audience wants, might take quite a few tries before narrowing down a few that work.

Ultimately, establishing a balance of knowing what you can offer, what you can manage, and what your audience will need at a price they can and will pay, are all moving pieces that should be adjusted until you find something that works. What works for you?

Originally Published on Medium: https://jessicalmoodywriter.medium.com/how-do-you-identify-the-needs-of-your-audience-c3d022079cac

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Write Messy

I am a writer, and I don’t follow the proper “writer” rules. Don’t get me wrong, though I’ve TRIED to follow the rules many times.

The rules:

  • Make writing a priority
  • Write 500 words a day.
  • Find a designated time and place to write.
  • Put a sign on your office door to keep out distractions.
  • Finish one piece before beginning the next.

Though these are great pieces of advice, I am the opposite of all the above. Any writing coach, writer, and business owner would scoff at the way that I write. I understand where they are coming from, but I understand that I am not capable of the above… I have 39 years of proof. I am a single mom of two with a full-time job, and I’m not willing to wake up at zero-dark-thirty to write in peace. I have kid basketball practices, my side gig of curriculum writing to keep up with, and much much more. I have learned to work with the lot I’m given.

I’ve realized over the years two things: 1. I don’t have to write like others. And 2. When I put myself in a box, I am creatively stifled. When I am free to write my way, messy, inconsistently, and no matter how busy the rest of my life is, I actually make much more progress than when I put unrealistic expectations on myself.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and none of it works for more than a few days, then try these non-stress, messy, busy-life writing tips:

1. Write any time, any place, and as much or as little as you can

If you know that you are not consistent, then just go with it. Stop and acknowledge it right now. Say, “I am not consistent and no matter how often I’ve tried I cannot follow a system or program someone else has created. I will only write when I can, how much I can, and wherever I am.”

I always carry around a dot journal. This journal is my generic catch-all journal. I write to-do lists, church sermon notes, prayers, drawings, notes from books, journal entries, or anything else I’m thinking. I carry around this journal because I have tried planners and every type of workbook on the planet, and I work better with the freedom to write anything and anything I want.

If you look through this journal, you’ll see outlines for blogs, chapter summaries, or curriculum outlines. I have this with me to write any moment I get an idea.

I don’t always formalize this information, but many times I do. When I sit down to write a blog, I have many outlines to choose from to build. That means that I don’t have to do the deep thinking quite as much when I have the outline so I am capable of writing in the living room with my kids while cartoons are on. I mentally turn off the sound and focus on building out the content right then and there.

On the few Saturdays I have no games or work to do, I marathon write for hours… as long as I can to finish something… anything, so that I feel at least slightly accomplished.

Do you carry around a dot journal yet?

2. Write messy

I am a full-time English teacher, and BY FAR the biggest problem that I see with students writing, is that they get afraid to write imperfectly, so they either write nothing or something that is forced and not interesting.

I tell them jokingly that their number one objective in all writing is to entertain me with something interesting because I don’t want to be bored reading 120 papers. Although this is obviously not how I grade, it loosens them up and helps them to think about my experience as the reader.

These are a few of the things I tell them:

  • Write messy and edit well.
  • The first draft of anything should be significantly worse than the final draft.
  • We strive for a first draft to be bad because we can work with bad, but we can’t work with nothing.
  • Nothing doesn’t magically turn into something but a messy draft can be revised and something we can be proud of eventually.

Which of the above tips resonates with you the most?

3. Write what inspires you

My journals and google drive are full of starts of books, articles, blogs, and more. I felt guilty for a long time about it. I thought, “I can’t start something new because I haven’t finished what I’ve started yet.” This guilt stopped me from doing anything for a very long time. But when I turned around my thinking, then I was able to write more often and finish more often.

I started realizing that if I didn’t finish it, then I wasn’t meant to finish it (silly, but it helped me not feel guilty and stuck). Secondly, I realized that often, the shorter pieces could be combined into a larger piece. I had outlines, excerpts, and overviews in multiple google docs that could be combined for a larger piece. I had done the hard work of writing it all out, and all I needed to do was compile and edit it.

If it wasn’t for my random and sporadic inspired writing, then I wouldn’t have been able to put all those pieces together. I realized that writing when inspired helped to make the process go more smoothly than I ever thought possible.

What do you find yourself writing the most often? Can you review what you’ve done and see any theme?

4. Write WHEN you are inspired

How often have you sat down to write in your perfect writing space, during your designated writing time, put your fingers on your keyboard and then…. Nothing. You have no idea what to write. When you look at the previous pieces that you are supposed to be finishing, it feels so far from anything you could continue at the moment. It’s too forced and it just won’t work no matter how much you try.

I’m not sure how I learned it, but I actually have extreme, selective hearing. When I’m ready to sit down to write, I can literally turn out every other sound around me and write… If I feel inspired to write, I don’t always have time to start and finish it, but I will write down key points and build out a concept with as much time that I do have. Later, I feel anticipation to carve out some time to finish and publish soon. If you can’t turn out the world like I can, throw some headphones in or don’t feel guilty about putting the kids mindlessly in front of the TV or Ipad for hours, so you can focus.

How will you use this tip?

5. Look back, finish, and publish your stuff SOMEWHERE!!

If you write when inspired, you are likely going to notice that you have a ton of random starts to random ideas in your journal and google drive as I do. You might realize that you already have a ton of content to build from.

When you have more time, give yourself time to review what you’ve done, and consider the options. Which one do you have the least amount of work to finish? Which one would feel really good to finally finish?

Pick something that will give you instant gratification to see finished. Even more ideally, if you have a few hours, then find the 3 or 4 pieces that are close to being done and finish them all during that time. Marathon writing sessions are one of the most fun things in my life. I love having 4 or 5 hours where I can focus on writing and finishing. Seeing my progress and feeling that satisfaction of hitting publish on my blog makes the lack of publishing for weeks completely okay.

What’s the next writing piece that will give you instant gratification to finish: the next chapter, a blog post that is almost done, or something else?

6. Stop stressing about a timeline or publishing schedule

Last month, I planned on publishing my book. Since I’m being vulnerable with you, I’m going to share some uncomfortable truths… I gave myself an extremely unrealistic launch date for my book. Four days before I was supposed to press play, I realized that it wasn’t going to happen and I was so devastated that I didn’t write for a week. Totally unlike me. I didn’t use any of my tips, I didn’t overcome, and I wouldn’t listen to anyone who tried to encourage me out of my funk. I was so disappointed in myself.

I’m sure you see the hypocrisy in me telling you to not be stressed about a timeline. BUT… know that it’s going to happen… the timeline is going to be crushed at some point in your writing career.

Now some of you live for the schedule (if you are that person, you’ve probably not gotten this far in the article), but those of you who are writing for fun or to build a habit over the longterm, this is my simplified advice:

Write anything often, and finish good stuff regularly.

Not sure that anyone is going to plaster this on an inspirational writing poster, but it’s something we should honestly consider… we know that we don’t finish because we are obsessed with perfect, but writing often gives us more to work with and knowing that the objective to publish something is the ultimate goal. (For more about avoiding perfectionism, I highly suggest the book: Finish by Jon Acuff.)

When have you been disappointed by not meeting a deadline?

7. Write in your head before you write

No joke, 90% of my writing happens in my head while I’m driving, doing the dishes, or right before I fall asleep (that’s why I keep my trusty journal next to my bed often). When I think about writing, I think about the following:

  • What is it going to say? The key points and take away.
  • What is it going to do? For the audience, for my business, etc.
  • What will it lead to? A series of posts, one chapter of a book, or be used as a lead magnet.
  • What will it do? Establish me as an expert, learn with my audience, grow my audience, etc.
  • What will it look like? I try to visualize what the end product will look like, what will be, where, and which analogies or visuals will I use.

This act of visualizing or meditating is vital for me to writing.

See it before you write it.

Where will you do your visualizing?

8. Intentionally fail at things blocking you from writing

In Finish by Jon Acuff, Jon mentions that we need to refuse perfectionism and “decide to fail” in certain areas of our life. Our desire to be perfect in every area makes us fail in the areas that we want to succeed in. When we are obsessed with holding up all the plates, we are bound to drop some. So it’s important to choose things to fail.

For me it’s laundry… I let my laundry get out of hand many times because I’d rather take the time that I would be wasting folding laundry to write. I’d rather make my kids dig through the laundry basket for a few weeks while I work to build my business and my reach. The long term goal is more important to me than the short term time spend doing something I hate anyways.

What’s your thing you will intentionally let go?

I hope that after hearing these tips, you’ll realize a few things:

  • Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. You love writing so write what you love.
  • We all know you are a busy person, but make time to do what you love: Write!!
  • If the book is not going to keep you from living on the streets, it’s going to take a while. Writing one sentence a day, when you can squeeze in time is better than not writing anything, so write the one sentence a day!
  • People need your stuff. You are being selfish if you don’t share it. Give them what they need!!

Which tip is the one you needed to hear today? What will you do starting now?

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My mom tells the story often: when my dad met her, she was extremely shy and insecure. She was a waitress at the Staff NCO Club on Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base, and he was a cook while also a water safety instructor as a Gunny at the base pool.

My dad was 13 years older than my mom, and I promise, if he would have been a Company Gunny instead of an instructor, the young Marines would have noticed the fact that Company Gunny just married a girl their age. But because he was an instructor, and he had so much freedom, it gave my mom an unrealistic view about what the Marine Corps was really like.

They met when they started chatting after work every day. They chatted mostly about Jesus because my mom had just come home to Kailua from LA where she worked for a mission for the two years after she dropped out of college. She wasn’t a good student and as she tells it, “I only got into Whittier college because my Grandpa Moody paid my entire tuition in cash.”

As they got to know each other, he began to encourage her to speak up and stand up for herself. She would teach her how to use her voice and that her thoughts and opinions were worth hearing. When my mom told the story, you’d hear dad adding from the other room “And I created a monster.”

Even when he said that, you can see that he was proud of her and always supported everything she wanted to do whether it was paint Mardi Gras masks to sell on Bourbon Street, become the first nail tech in our small town in Missouri, or become a bartender at the E-club on base.

My mom accepted my dad with all his flaws exactly who he was, and he did the same for her.

He always worked hard for his family and sometimes that meant that he didn’t spend much time with us, but nothing got in the way of his love for my mom. They went through many difficult times, but they always talked it through and compromised no matter how bleak the outcome seemed to be from everyone around them. They made it a priority to come to an agreement they could both live with.

Mom and dad began as best friends and that friendship continued every day until he left us.

I can remember hearing the murmuring of their talking voices at night from a young age. I rarely got to hear what they talked about, but they talked and never tired of it. It wasn’t a thing they had to do; it was who they were.

41 years is a lot of years to be with one person. Even through the hard times they made it work. You know I’m a teacher and I can’t leave you without some things that I want to remember and I hope you remember to make your love last.

Make Your Love Last

  1. Be friends first and always. Your spouse should be the one you love enough to talk about anything with. It’s not a chore to talk; it should be who you are as a couple. The difficult things, the uncomfortable things, the awkward things, all the things… nothing should be off the table for discussion.
  2. Let one another be imperfect and love them for it. If you tease each other, make it with love behind it. My parent’s teasing was never out of meanness or being passive aggressive. They actually teased one another about the things they loved the most about each other.
  3. Tell your story to everyone. Everyone wants to be bragged about. Every person that ever met my mom heard their love story. No one missed out. And every time she told it, he got to hear it again, add his statement we knew he’d always say, “And I created a monster.” and she would continue. But each time she told the story, she was bragging about him to anyone new. She was telling everyone that she was loved more than most people will ever be loved. Every time she told it, he heard it and was reminded of why he fell in love with her.

My mom’s number one advice for being married 41 years is “Become friends first!” but as we might know, that’s not that easy and it doesn’t seem to be the only thing that helps the longevity of a relationship. Instead, be friends first so that when you tease one another, it is out of love and tell your story often so that you remember often why you fell in love.


If you would like to support the family’s burial costs, please click HERE.

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