Thursday, April 29, 2010

If - spring decides to come - it probably will then be summer!

Spring semester has begun. I like my class schedule, and I like my classes. Each subject has me thinking in completely different ways.

Comms 336: PR Strategies. We study case studies, then we analyze and come up with our own PR strategies to fix the problems. It is a fine line for me to want to take charge and move the development of strategies along in group work. It is quite the discipline of self! I have worked on quite a few case studies but have not had much experience in the final stages of the matrix. I hope we get a little more instructions on the nuts and bolts of this segment.

Comms 300: Media, Ethics, Law and Responsibility. Understanding the law is crucial as a PR communicator. Having a foundation of values keeps you centered when ethical situations arise. Libel issues are a key component when producing and sending messages, you never want to side with error. Our instructor is going to be great. He has so much energy!!!

Comms 351: Media and Their Audiences. I think this may be my favorite class of the three. We will be doing ethnography studies. What - you ask? I had to Google ETHNOGRAPHY to understand what in the heck it was. "Ethnography is a research method based on observing people in their natural environment rather than in a formal research setting." It helps you see patterns of behavior in people. I really like our instructors method of teaching - he leads the discussion in helping students become aware of the subject matter - Consumer Behavior.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Do we live in a touchy feely world?

I just read a blog post in the Harvard Business Review, written by Edward Bergman. He was writing it from a business perspective, on how touch can be used in the work place. I think what he pointed out was very relevant in today's world.

After being in a sequence of classes in education, I can see how powerful touch is in the classroom. For so long teachers have been told "Do Not Touch the Students!"

With all they hype on inappropriate situations, this is understandable. But there is appropriate touching, and I think Bergman suggested the correct approach for those times - don't linger! Make it light and brief.

Yes, there are circumstances that you must be aware of, regarding different cultures and an intuitive sense of people's space or 'comfort zone.' But I truly believe that touch is a healing ability we all have been blessed with. However that talent needs to be paired with a love for all of God's wonders.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Response #6 - William Doherty's book - "The Intentional Family" (Birthday's, Christmas)

During moments of frustration, the question has been asked, “Who came up with this idea of a birthday party?” Only to be rewarded by the look of pure joy of those being honored at the festivities. Then the conclusion is that that one magical moment was worth the trouble and headache to provide such an event!

While reading these chapters 6 & 8 of William Doherty’s book, The Intentional Family, I could not help but laugh at the different situations others found themselves in and at myself. On so many levels I found myself relating to the experiences of birthday rituals, parental holidays and Christmas holidays.

Coming from a farming family - work and the necessary chores of taking care of the land and animals were far more important than celebrating in grand style the passage of time for individual family members. A special dinner, gift and cake were all that was significant for the day. My husband’s family of 12 children, and a WWII era British-born mother, they too experienced the same recognition. But things have changed.

Truly, I have personally seen how we have become a nation that has evolved in celebrating yearly birthdays, and I have been guilty of perpetuating this mania. Thankfully, my time of birthday celebrations for young children has ended and the torch has been passed. However, after years of experience, I am willing to pass on my insights, if asked, to this perception of what should be sustainable in this world of merriment observance we have created!

Most families want to create an environment in which our children feel loved and cherished, and that is an admirable quality of parents, but at the expense of public celebration - who does it honestly benefit? There are moments of pleasure, and memories are surely to ensue. But it is the intentional and intimate rituals that have far more meaning and importance. Doherty’s personal example of his father-in-law’s 80th birthday party, surrounded by loved ones and sharing their communal love and admiration for this important man. The spirit of the celebration was memorable.

Doherty writes of a ritual that his family has instituted, an “appreciation ritual.” Personally I find this refreshing and have considered how I can implement this into my family. As Doherty continues, it is an emotional gift that lasts longer than a finely decorated present.

Around November of each year, I sometime listen to the “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger’s radio show. I am amazed at the amount of calls she receives regarding the dynamics and turmoil families encounter during the holidays. It is evident of the joy and pain this holiday can create. Yet, as Doherty explains, “Christmas amnesia” sets in, and families continue to carry on traditions, that so easily could be tweaked to create an unforgettable occasion.

In my family circumstance we have had to make changes to accommodate the ever changing landscape of our family dynamics. It was so much simpler to attend to our nuclear family’s needs of long ago.

Our Christmases together have only two elements that we have not changed – and that is going caroling, and our Christmas Eve Mexican dinner—that is our tradition. However, because of struggling finances of young families, we have set limits or opted out of gift exchanges. One daughter created a “gift store” in which the grandchildren purchase a toy for the cousin exchange, which will become a tradition. Another family tradition of catching Santa Clause early Christmas morning is not a yearly occurrence, but one treasured when done every few years.

When not spending Christmas together as an extended family, we each extend a welcome to those who are alone. Christmas time is about connecting and finding a linkage to our past, and that is hard to do if you are all by yourself.

Making memories are what celebrations and holidays are all about. Whether it is done by a traditional dish or chain of events, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are together, loved ones and those who need a loving hand of fellowship. Intentional in plan and purpose.

Response #5 - Miriam Weinstein's book - "The Surprising Power of Family Meals

Tonight as I have been reading the last chapter in Weinstein’s book, I have had music playing that I call my “soul” music. Along with the beautiful melodies and words, I can’t help but feel sad that this book has come to an end! This book has made a powerful impression in my heart.

Weinstein speaks of her family meals, and I relate. I see myself with children underfoot, managing a baby, toddler, teenagers and other various life forms, all clamoring for sustenance – now! And my heart laughs at the memories. Then at the conclusion of the chapter she shares of her evening alone, when all is quiet, and her heart is full as mine is tonight.

What Weinstein has been trying to say, is that relationships are important, families are important, and family meals are a means to support and sustain relationships. She speaks a great truth when she writes, “Your family does not want someone extraordinary. They want each other” (pg. 240).

Although she points out some very practical applications of meal-planning, she states that many homes are “lacking in the happy disorder of productive daily life.” When I consider all the children who do not have this experience I want to gather them all in; I want to not only feed them but fill them with love because they are a valued child. I too miss that chaos.

I was not fortunate to have grandparents growing up, but I had incredible parents that you knew loved you. I can remember my mother when we were all gathered together for a meal, and she would look into our faces and smile. We were too busy to notice, but as time passed, I have come to understand that smile and the joy she felt when we were together again, and the tears that would fall as we waved good-bye to leave for our own homes.

It says a lot about people when asked what they remember most about their families. It isn’t about fame or glory; it is about the funny moments, the tender moments, and the one-on-one moments. It is the moments that say “this is who I am.”

Since reading Weinstein’s book, I have made an effort to make sure my husband and I have meals each night. The preparation time is much longer than I care for, due to my habit of deciding what to eat 20 minutes before I begin. But I have felt it important. My husband has always been one to inhale his food and leave the table, but at my insistence he has lingered a little longer, and it has become an enjoyable time for the two of us. I have become more “intentional” in making my meal times better.