How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! ~ A Non Traditional Student, Enlightenment & Marshmallows ~ Part 18

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In my last blog, I started with the Little Brain – so on to him! Being the “non-traditional student” (aka not being 20ish) and being pregnant was … I’m trying to find the right descriptor ~ enlightening.

I was given greater knowledge and understanding about my situation!

Seriously I was enjoying my life immensely (still am!)  At that time, I was 30 years old, on my second pregnancy and feeling great.


Ultrasound 2-1-1994…he’s sucking his thumb!  He being Jacob!

Here’s another glimpse of my story while attending Iowa State University. In the Spring of 1994, along with the 3 credit hour Social Work & Social Policy course I took and wrote about in the blog on March 5, 2012, I was taking 16 more credit hours, including one course called Human Diseases: Causes and Prevention (Health Studies 350).

Here is an excerpt from a paper I wrote on May 2, 1994, titled Personal Disease Projection: An Awareness Guide to My Own Health and Lifestyle.

My current lifestyle finds me reaching explicitly for a very positive and healthy outlook. I am very much enjoying my happy (yet workaholic) husband and our rambunctious five-year-old. We are eagerly awaiting a new child sometime in early August. I feel being 30 is treating me pretty good and I really can’t ask for more at this point in time (except to have my degree in Community Health Education NOW).

Since I am taking 19 credits this semester it was mandatory that I quit my day job, therefore, I only have one part-time job which pays a lot and is pretty non-stressful (I moonlight as a transcriptionist).  We recently (last October) purchased our first home and live in a nice, quiet neighborhood with friendly neighbors (except the mean old man right next door – anyway….)

During this time in my life, and I mentioned it in at the end of my paper,

“A possible cause of alarm is my stress management level.  I plan to learn new strategies to alleviate the stressors that can get to me. I am going to listen to more relaxing music – and try out the old adage of counting to 10 before I get angry.”

Gee, I guess I should’ve given my self a break…..!  And I hope you do whatever you need to/want to do to relax as well.  Here’s some great ideas for you to choose from to squash the stress:

Fun Ways To Reduce Stress

Author Unknown

Did you know…

-Laughter can reduce stress hormones
-Laughter boosts your immune system
-Laughter lowers your blood pressure
-Laughter can exercise certain muscles (diaphragm, abdominal, facial, neck, back, and leg)

Looking for a quick easy way to ‘work out’? Laugh! Did you know that laughing 100 times is the equivalent to 15 minutes on an exercise bike or 10 minutes on a rowing machine. Yep…it is. Amazing isn’t it?

 Here are amusing ways to reduce stress: (Some you may not want to try at home)


  • Jam 39 tiny marshmallows up your nose and try to sneeze them out.
  • Use your Mastercard to pay your Visa.
  • Pop some popcorn without putting the lid on.
  • When someone says “have a nice day”, tell them you have other plans.
  • Forget the Diet Center and send yourself a candygram.
  • Make a list of things to do that you have already done.
  • Dance naked in front of your pets.
  • Put your toddler’s clothes on backwards and send him off to pre-school as if nothing is wrong.
  • Retaliate for tax woes by filling out your tax forms in Roman numerals.
  • Tattoo “out to lunch” on your forehead.
  • Tape pictures of your boss on watermelons and launch them from high places.
  • Leaf through a “National Geographic” and draw underwear on the natives.
  • Go shopping. Buy everything. Sweat in it. Return it the next day.
  • Pay your electric bill in pennies.
  • Drive to work in reverse.


  • Relax by mentally reflecting on your favorite episode of “The Flintstones” during the finance meeting.
  • Tell your boss to blow it out of his mule and let him figure it out.
  • Read the dictionary upside down and look for secret messages.
  • Bill your doctor for the time spent in his waiting room.
  • Braid the hair in each nostril.
  • Write a short story, using alphabet soup.
  • Lie on your back eating celery using your navel as a salt dipper.
  • Stare at people through the lines of a fork and pretend they’re in jail.
  • Make up a language and ask people for directions.
  • Write a message to your doctor on your hip so he can see it during the bone marrow harvest.

Practice up on how to walk like a zombie

  • Count how many minutes it takes to stare at the phone before it rings.
  • Bring “Three Stooges” movies and insist your nurse has to see them with you before you’ll take your chemo.
  • Buy a fake i.d. and have a free Denny’s breakfast for your birthday.
  • Tell your family you have plans and then do absolutely nothing.
  • Leave a message with farm animal sounds on someone’s answering machine.
  • Redecorate your house by fingerpainting the walls and blame it on the kids.Determine your strength. Thumb wrestle with your own right and left hand
  • See how many people are listed in the phone book with your last name. Call and tell them you’re their long lost cousin.
  • Walk around the block and count all the pot holes in your street.
  • Read tea bags.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back and affirm that you made it another day.

Be truthful, how many of the above have you really done or really plan to do soon?  In quick review, I have done…well, never mind!  Do you have any good stressor squashers you’d like to add?

Jake's drawing Landshark

Back to Jacob…drawing helps destress him!

Today, Monday March 19, 2012, leads us closer and closer to Jacob’s high school graduation! The ceremony is on Sunday, May 27 at 7:00 pm at the Drake Knapp Center. Time to celebrate!

Happy Spring!


 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.




How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! The Student with 2 Brains ~ Part 17

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In Spring of 1994 I took 19 credits, and I did really well academically. I like to relate it to the fact that at that time in my life, I had two brains! Yes you read that right!

I was pregnant with my second child!

 Ahhh, the beautiful brain. FYI:  Your brain weighs 2 to 4 pounds and is comprised of at least 60% fat. It is the fattest system in your body. It’s a compliment when you get called a fat head!

I happen to be quite fond of the amygalda (uh mig’ dull uh).  The amygalda (aka the “emotional brain) is a set of subcortical nuclei that is important for perceiving in others and having in oneself emotional or affective behaviors and feelings (eg: fear, anger). It’s a component of the limbic system. Emotions convey a lot useful information. In a future blog, I will write about emotional intelligence, but for this week’s writing I want to focus on brain health.

The amygalda – the name, comes from ‘like an almond’

I’ve been attending Brain Health Seminars hosted by Emeritus Senior Living in Urbandale, Iowa. The topics are very interesting and revolve around Paul David Nussbaum Ph.D’s research.  Dr. Nussbaum is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  Website for  Paul David Nussbaum, Ph.D.  

Dr. Nussbaum is an International Leader on Brain Health Lifestyle and has recently written a book titled SAVE YOUR BRAIN The 5 Things You Must Do to Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp”

Yes, there are six slices, but who could resist?

The five critical areas of brain health, or the “slices to the brain health pie,” include:

Socialization, Physical Activity, Mental Stimulation*, Spirituality and Nutrition

One of the Brain Health Seminars focused on *Mental & Cognitive Stimulation.  The featured speaker was Polly Johnston, Program Specialist, Iowa Alzheimer’s Association.  Polly explains Dr. Nussbaum focuses on the mind’s five main cognitive functions:

~  Language Skills  ~  Memory  ~  Concentration & Attention  ~ Visual & Spatial  ~ Executive Functions (Logic & Reasoning) ~

 Polly taught our group how to come up with ideas to cognitively stimulate our brain.  She recommends we try something new and challenging each day.  Here is one I love: If you are right handed, (I am), use your left hand to eat, write or use your car keys. I personally like to shoot pool positioning the cue stick in my left hand (not that it helps my game, but I do it anyway!)

Many years ago, when I broke my right wrist in a car accident,  I had to use my left hand quite a bit for the six weeks it was in a cast. For example, I wrote, ate, brushed my teeth and washed my hair left handed (covering cast with a bread bag so it wouldn’t get as wet!) Using my left hand/arm helped me conceptualize how important it is to try to be ambidextrous. My husband claims to be….maybe to some degree, luckily for him his mother was a lefty!

Other ideas to exercise your brain include get yourself a Brain Games/Puzzle Book (there are plenty on line to do). 

Plan for exciting travel!

 Learn a new musical instrument (this engages different parts of your brain and why our DMPS schools need to never ever rid our students of the opportunities for band, choir, symphony…..).

Additionally, listen to wonderful classical music!

In his high school days, my son Nick played:  alto sax, bari sax, flute, baritone, and piano.  My daughter Arin takes band lessons (thank you Mr. Most Talented Craig Swartz, Instrumental Music Director of Des Moines Public Schools) and plays the flute for her school. She also self-taught in a number of instruments, and plays the guitar, bass, ukulele and piano. As an aside, my 15 year old beauty also self-taught in sign language! I am in awe when she signs songs. Absolutely beautiful.

I blog…..which really helps my brain! I receive the online Word of the Day (I love this). And, well I work! Think brain, think, how else do I exercise my brain? Does golf count (without getting pissed off?) I really want to play the piano again (I took lessons from Ms. Schweiger for many years as a youngster while growing up in Iowa Falls.)

What do you do to exercise your brain?

I started this blog with the baby inside topic….but never did mention Jacob… week young man! Read on!



How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! More Recollections of ISU – Part 16

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hope you enjoyed last week’s blog post about motivation. On to more recollections of my days at ISU:

In the Spring of 1994 I took Social Work 261, taught by Stephen M. Aigner.  For the course,  I was required to read a book about the depression titled “In The Shadow of the Poorhouse”, by Michael B. Katz.

I still remember the book….17 years later (woah)

From Library Journal

According to Katz, the American welfare system that nobody likes has been able to resist fundamental change over two centuries because of its symbiosis with the social structure and the political economy. From his analysis of the history of welfare in the United States he finds that there have always been contradictions among its goals: deterrence, discipline, compassion, control, and patronage. Real reform, unlikely in the near future, would require that both social insurance and public assistance be replaced with full employment at fair pay, complemented by a social wage to all who are unable to work or find a suitable job. A stimulating challenge to the benevolent interpretation of welfare in America; recommended for academic and large public libraries. Harry Frumerman , formerly with Economics Dept., Hunter Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

I prepared a report after reading it titled “A Personal Look Into the History of Welfare in America.” The instructor gave me a 100 on the paper and wrote “You’ve worked hard on this and it shows. One of the better papers I’ve had in five years!” The instructor encouraged me to think about a career in social work. Hum, I pondered….

Here’s a few paragraphs from the report I authored April 6, 1994, to answer a couple of questions from Chapter 9:  

Did the claims of critics about the expansion of social welfare hold water?  In my view, the criticisms of social welfare didn’t hold water for a number of reasons. The expansion of social welfare included many new sources of benefits and programs that assisted all level income populations Benefits included in-kind programs, implementation of a retirement wage and increase in public welfare roles. Nutritional programs such as school lunches and dietary supplements for women and young children were expanded. Food stamp application grew and housing projects were subsidized. The commitment of social welfare programs to minimize poor quality living conditions and improve services to enhance human development and the general quality of life was an important step in the continuation of our country’s welfare policy.

Some people criticized the increase in welfare reform. Social insurance was seen to undermine the free enterprise system. And of course, the well known dubious demoralizing work ethic effect thought to exist was ever present. Many people also complained of the increase in federal government expenditures, yet the helping profession wasn’t the only service increased. Perhaps the critics didn’t view health care and legal assistance as beneficial to the entire country.

Relative to other western industrialized countries, how does the U.S. compare in its treatment of its citizens? When all national expenditures for social welfare are added and compared to the gross national product, there is a remarkable comparison between the U.S. and other industrialized demographic countries. The U.S. relies the heaviest on public assistance because our people have lower relative incomes and fewer incentives to work. Our government provides its citizens with a semi (half-there) welfare state. It taxes its citizens fully while only partially helping the disadvantaged members of its population. Compared to Switzerland, the United Kingdom, West Germany and Australia, the U.S. ranks last in its methods and principals of providing helpful assistance to its people.

 Helping Client Systems

Although I didn’t become a social worker, my career as a rehab counselor is similar in nature. Paramount to our work is building relations with clients and client systems. Relationships are based on mutual participation in identifying goals that are practical for the Client.  In my profession as a rehabilitation counselor, I have chosen to focus on helping people find their true vocation.

 A vocation (from Latin vocare, meaning “to call”), is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he or she is suited, trained, or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.  Source:


Into the second week of Lent, I thank God for giving me this gift to help others.

I hope you enjoyed reading. On to Part 16!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! Part 15 – Motivation and Your Homework

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In my post last week, I wrote about motivation…and my Grandpa Jack. This week I am continuing with this omnipresent topic of life.  Motivation is what drives an individual from the inside. It cannot be learned or taught, this is just who you are!

But, last week I was so wrapped up in my writing, I forgot to give you your homework! (Is that lack of motivation or forgetfulness?) Be sure to draw that line and not get too strict with yourself if you forgot something!

Your homework On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest level: What level of motivation do you feel is required for you to get fit?  To study hard?  To succeed at your job? (add your own….)

This sure looks like a baby teething ring!

Your daily “to dos” or weekly goals are a huge part of how you view your level of motivation. They differ from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, and month to month, year to year! It’s helpful to score your motivation related to specific goal(s) on a daily basis according to your schedule and plans for the day. You don’t have to be detailed.

Your motivation score for cleaning your desk or for cutting your toenails might be a 2.  While weighing yourself or finishing a project a day early might be a 5.  How about a 10 as your score for acing that test, doing well in an upcoming job interview, or working to your best ability every day?

For example, last Thursday, I said:  Hey, Amy, it’s a 10 for the day that I will work on my taxes to get ready for tomorrow’s meeting with the tax guy.  I got it done!

Another example, today is Monday, I’m giving myself a 5 for starting that research project, but in my mind if I don’t get it started today, I know it’ll move up higher in score value (to a 6 or 7) by tomorrow. If there’s a deadline (which I think of when I hear of schedules, assignments, time limits or cutoff dates), be sure to set your task(s) to complete at a 10.  Hey You, that means JUST DO IT.  Be realistic with your time.

You Still Love to Play With This Baby Stacking Toy, huh?!

But of course make time for doing what you enjoy…….or being around those who you love!

Are Babies Motivated to Make Adults Smile?  I Believe It!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! Grandpa Jack & Motivators ~ Part 14

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last week I mentioned the importance of understanding your own inner motivations.  At the end of my post, I let you know I’m into step aerobics.  I started step last October 2011 offered through Des Moines Public Schools Community Education and taught by Rhonda Judge, a wonderfully talented instructor.

I first took step aerobics during a Physical Fitness and Conditioning course at ISU.  I liked it back then (1995) and always thought about getting back into it.  But geez Amy, it took me well over 16 years to do so!  That’s a bit embarrassing, and I hope if you want to do something, please don’t wait that long!

How am I continually motivated to do step aerobics after all these years? 

I am going to compare it to how I am motivated to get fit and how I got motivated to do well in college (recall I was a high school dropout–what a dud!); and I want to look at what motivates people to work to their best ability.

I have 3 objectives to write about in this post: 

First, what motivates a person to exercise?

As far as step aerobics, it’s a workout using a step of four inches in height in front of your body. While listening to the instructor (and music) in a room full of like-minded people, you perform a choreographed exercise routine. 

Step is a form of endurance training. You burn calories, increase your strength and flexibility, and improve your gait and balance. Sounds good, huh? Trust me, it works in a fairly short period of time….if you stick to it.

The most important aspect of any type of exercise or training is the positive impact it has on your mental health.  There’s your motivator #1!

Step Aerobics is Fun!

Secondly, how do students find the motivation to do well academically? There are different concepts of motivation (extrinsic and intrinsic).

In my case, I love to learn but not in a controlled environment (eg: how public school was structured in the 60s, 70s & 80s…do what the teacher says, memorize, take tests, get graded–external pressure/external rewards.) Once I had autonomy (going to college), and became driven by my interests and enjoyment in the tasks involved in my learning, I realized, hey I’m not so dumb after all!  

Intrinsic motivationMy intrinsic motivation soared! 

My interest for learning soared, too! In fact, it I found deep purpose, and was driven towards learning and enjoying the quest for more!

The process of self-enlightenment shines through when you focus on your interests and tap into your inner wisdom.  There’s your motivator #2!

After the comic scroll down please, there’s more…

And thirdly, let’s take a peek at what motivates people to work to their best ability.  I want to introduce you to my maternal grandfather.  John V. Dodge.  The V is for Vilas.  Vilas was his grandfather’s first name! 

Shelf Life picks the perfect pickle | National Post

Sounds like a pickle, Grandpa joked of his middle name!

Grandpa’s career was in writing, as a publishing executive. Jack (what everyone called him) worked for Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. for well over 50 years. Encyclopedia Britannica is an international educational publisher with products that promote knowledge and learning. Sadly, it is no longer being published, however you can perform research, learn something new, and find many of your answers online. 

Growing up, do you remember a set like this on your bookcase?

For a long time Gp’a was the Editor in Chief for Encyclopedia Britannica.  If you click on this link, you’ll find the typical responsibilities of an editor in chief.  Jack was also an Army Intelligence Officer during World War II. Pretty impressive, don’t you agree?!

“John V. Dodge, in full John Vilas Dodge (born Sept. 25, 1909, Chicago, Ill., U.S.—died April 23, 1991, Glenview, Ill.), American editor and publishing executive of the Encyclopædia Britannica. A graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. (1930), Dodge also studied at
the University of Bordeaux, France (1930–31). During World War II he served with U.S. Army Intelligence. He joined Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., in 1938, was managing and, later, executive editor of all Britannica publications (1950–64), and was vice president of the international division when he retired in 1972. 

John Vilas Dodge was a consultant to the editors of the 20-volume The Encyclopædia Universalis (Paris), a French language
general encyclopedia published by Encyclopædia Britannica, a privately held company. The articles of the Encyclopædia Universalis are aimed at educated adult readers, and written by a staff of full-time editors and expert contributors. It is widely considered to be the most scholarly of French-language encyclopedias.”


Jack and Jean Dodge lived in the Chicago Illinois area all their lives.  Grandpa had a college degree from Northwestern University (Grandma did too).  G’pa also studied for a time at the University of Bordeaux, France.  For his work, he traveled worldwide, being fluent in seven languages, culture and people simply fascinated him.

Jack and Jean had four children:  Ann (my mom), John, Gerald and Kay.  Here’s a picture from June 1986 that I took of my grandpa in his study.  Besides all the books, notice the print. I know it’s by a famous artist, but am not sure of the artist.  I’ll find out (hey, mom, got a question!) and get back to you with information about it. 

G’pa would love love love the World Wide Web!  

Here is a story I wrote about Gpa for an English Composition class in 1981.

Grandpa continued to consult during his retirement (and hang out with Jean in Florida during the wintertime!) Jack loved to write and help others to learn.

When you use your best skill sets and love what your work is about, you become naturally motivated to work to your best ability. There’s your motivator #3!

Every person has different motivations for working. The reasons for working are as individual as the person. But, we all work because we obtain something that we need from work.

Enjoy YourselfWorking to your best ability is gratifying. 

The something we obtain from work impacts our morale, our motivation, and the quality of our lives. 

As a consultant, I work to help others experience success in their work efforts.  I find value keeping my grandpa and his successful career in my mind (heart and soul, too!). 

I hope you enjoy reading this post and my other blog writings. Need help on a case involving work and disability? Give me a call at 515-778-0634 or email me at


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.



How the Past Has Brought Me to The Present! Part 13

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Here’s an example of how I helped others to learn using a visual… on please!

To prepare for a presentation titled Weight Management Techniques for my Personal & Consumer Health course at ISU in November of 1993, I visited my local Fareway grocery store meat man down the street.  He happily turned over five pounds of meat fat free of charge, chuckling at my request and my reason for it.

My presentation focused on how to maintain a healthy body composition and to help avoid disease through a combination of moderate exercise and a low-fat diet.  I stressed the importance of understanding your own physical make-up and inner motivations before starting a weight reduction program.  I offered a number of techniques that can be used to meet your weight loss objectives.  At the end of the presentation, as a grand finale, I passed around the blob of fat to serve as a visual.

This is 1 pound of body fat.  It was passed around to every student in class…gross…..but effective!

To get to know your own physical make-up, one method is to estimate your body fat percentage.  The Body Mass Index (BMI)  is based upon simple weight and height measures.

The BMI calculation is an indirect measurement, and has been found to be a fairly reliable indicator of body fat measurements in most people. It is a number representing your weight distribution and, for most, is a good quantifier to determine if you are overweight.

If you have a lot of muscle mass, you’ll likely have higher limits. Here’s a BMI calculator from the Mayo Clinic for your reference.   A value between 18.5 and 25 is considered a normal weight.

Another method, now a days, it to look at your “Lean Body Mass”, and know how to calculate it.  What is Lean Body Mass (aka LBM)? Simply put, lean body mass is comprised of everything in your body besides body fat.  Your lean body mass includes:

 …and anything else in our bodies that has mass and is not fat.  As an aside, for the average adult male about 42% of body weight is skeletal muscle and it’s about 35% for females.

Lean Body Mass Formula: Lean Body Mass = Body Weight – (Body Weight x Body Fat %)

This equation is taking your body weight in pounds and subtracting it from the amount of fat you have in your body in terms of pounds.  Simple.  If you don’t know how to measure your body fat, here are are Ways  to Measure Body Fat.

Here’s another web page that will help you calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI), Waist-to-Height ratio, percent body fat, and lean body mass.  Diet Calculator, Body Fat Calculator


Ideal Body Weight and Percent Body Fat

The ideal weight and fat-lean ratio varies considerably for men and women and by age, but the minimum percent of body fat considered safe for good health is 5 percent for males and 12% for females. The average adult body fat is closer to 15 to 18% for men and 22 to 25% for women.

I hope the information in this post is helpful to you.  I am in progress of changing my body composition (aka:  losing body fat, lowering my weight, trying to ditch the gut, firming up, whatever!!!…) through exercising and watching what I eat, especially tracking daily carb and sugar intake.

I’ve been into yoga for well over a year, and I recently started a step aerobics class.  If there is something you feel you need to do to get fit, start now.  Try something! Do it for yourself.

Dennis has the best words of wisdom:

Thank you for reading!  On to more next week!  Post 14 I believe! Any comments are welcome!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! Part 12

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I continue to blog about recollections while attending Iowa State University in the mid-1990s.  Seems like yesterday I was on campus, but alas, time has taken us all much into the future…and it is fun to have fond memories.

In the Spring of 1993, I took 12 credits.  The courses were:  Legal Environment of Business, Business and Social Science Calculus, Business Organization and Management, Principles of Marketing.  I remember these classes (in an earlier post I praised the tutor I hired to get me through the Calculus course).  After this semester, I realized – hey these courses don’t really trip my trigger (other than the legal business course).

As I wrote about in my blog post on January 16, 2012 –  Part 9 I switched my major to Community Health Education.  In a very small nutshell ~ we’ll say a filbert ~

Health Education enhances the quality of life for all people.  For more detail, please click here – What is CHE?  I was very happy to find this major, it really fit in well with my interests, personality and learning style preference.

Now with a new academic outlook, I signed up for 17 credits in the Fall of 1993.  My courses were:  Principles of Biology, Emergency Health Care, Personal & Consumer Health, Drug Education, Individual and Family Life Development and Normal Personality.  All As and Bs, well and a C in biology.  GPA is 3.24.

I worked really hard for my grade in the biology course – which included a class and a lab.  Making my stains, focusing my microscope, studying those micro-organisms, memorizing scientific names, working with my biology partner, turning in lab work and taking tests…  I was genuinely trying to be positive about the whole course – but not really “getting” what I think I was supposed to be “getting” Get what I’m getting at?

Do you learn best by hearing someone say something?  By seeing it written down in words?  By studying diagrams or pictures?  By doing it yourself, or with a partner?  All of these ways of learning can be useful, but most people don’t have a clue about the best way for them to learn. The key to passing many a course at the college level (or to find success at tackling a project at work) is to first figure out how you learn.   Then apply that information to how the instructor structures the course (or you supervisor or team members are structuring the project.)

I recommend you get to know your own learning style to figure out how you “get things”. Take a minute or two to take this short VARK questionnaire that provides you with a profile of your learning preferences.  Here is a link to more information about VARK

I took the questionnaire and my scores were:

Visual: 3

Aural: 1

Read/Write:  4

Kinesthetic:  7

I have a kinesthetic learning style preference according to the test.

You can also look at the various studying strategies available on that VARK website to find some that work best for each of these learning styles.  I hope this is helpful….even if you are no longer a college student. For more information about your learning style,  see good old Wikipedia – I learn from it!

If you work like I work, you learn something new every day.  I personally like to learn (or to memorize) using a  double “clip art with acronym” method.  For example and this is one we all know.  What are the seven conventional colors of the rainbow?

Roy G Biv ~ You have a visual in two ways!

Stay tuned, for part 13 of “my story” and how I mix up my thoughts on work, life, love and passions as a rehab counselor.  Next week I’ll write about how I used FAT to teach.


How My Past Has Brought Me to The Present! Part 11

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I was really enjoying my coursework at Iowa State University.  I took anywhere from 12-19 credits per semester.  I was hitting the books hard, studying constantly, and commuting back and forth to Ames.  Even on occasion making the trip twice in one day – I had a couple of night classes.

Go Clones!

For any of you who can relate, walking on a large campus can be quite a trip in itself.  The commuter club dropped us off at the Armory and we walked, and walked and walked.  Oh, and the cold during the winter………and the walking….and the huge class sizes (many of my courses, not all were 200+), and the walking, and the studying and the walking, and the tests…and my life!

Upon awaking she notices yellow highlighter stains on sheets and on various parts of body.  Read:  fell asleep hip (highlighting in progress)

I’ve been going through my ISU stuff, and found several papers and memorabilia from my ISU days.  I’ll be blogging about some of my recollections.  Here’s one!

In the Fall of 1992 (my first semester), I took Business Communications – a Speech class.  One of my first speeches was on something we all do, or will do sometime in the future.  I presented it the class with a clue:  It’s a 4 letter word, ends in k, it can be very good for some people and it can turn boring, monotonous and simply not challenging for others.  You’re right – work.  My visuals included a Barbie and a Ken doll.  Ugg, I know.  But they were my workers.  Click here (or check out my blog on workaholism) for the transcript of my training and development presentation on workaholism.  I have a video of my presentation, and may try to upload that somehow someday.

Thanks for reading. On to Part 12!?!



Don’t Let Work Become a “Bad 4 Letter Word” – Workaholism

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Below if the transcript of Amy E. Botkin’s training and development presentation on Workaholism for Business Communications  ISU – Fall 1992.


I’m here to discuss something we all do, or will do sometime in the near future.  I’ll give you a clue to see if you can guess.  It’s a 4 letter word, ends in k, it can be very good for some people and it can turn boring, monotonous and simply not challenging for others.  Do you know the word I’m getting at? Don’t think too hard!

You’re right!  – the word is Work. 

Soon everyone in this room will enter the working world.  The future engineers, educators, journalists, managers, artists and so on in this room will all have demanding positions.  How is it that some people are able to handle the workload while others adopt bad habits and unhealthy work styles to cope with their job?

In this training and development session, I will discuss what workaholism is, compare the work style of a healthy worker with that of a workaholic, the significance of workaholism on the individual and the workplace, and general guidelines which may help you work with a workaholic.

Workaholism is a progressive disease in which a person is addicted to the process of working.  In a nutshell:  a workaholic’s life is dominated by his or her job.  How many of you know a workaholic?  I have a friend who works all the time. Please help me to welcome my helpers.

My visuals were Barbie…

Action:  Following an interview with a prospective client, Barbie blacked out in her office and was forced to spend a few days in the hospital. The doctors told her she had a minor heart problem and she should take a vacation to relax, yet she blew the doctor’s orders off.  Barbie’s life revolves around her work. Barbie does not know how to relax, as she is a workaholic. A definite symptom of a workaholic is the denial.  Barbie flatly denies she has a problem with work. She submitted her proposal the next morning, after working well into the evening.

Action:  Following an interview with a prospective client, Ken powered walked to his office and left work early so he could head to the beach with his family.  He recently had his annual physical from this regular doctor, which showed he continues to maintain great health.  The doctor recommended that Ken may want to do more walking, just to keep his heart healthy.  Ken’s life revolves around his work and his family.  Ken loves to relax and hang out with his friends.  Ken is looking forward to working with his new client and has plans to submit his proposal next week.

and Ken dolls…

Image result for working ken doll images

The main difference in work styles between Barbie and Ken is that Barbie’s work is out of control.  She is unable to relax, take time for herself or give time to her family.  Her work is her identity.

Ken, on the other hand, goes to work to provide for his family and to pay his bills.  Ken enjoys working and he loves his profession.  He fills discretionary time with recreation, volunteering, attending community functions or with his family and friends.

Workaholism can lead to personal health problems as well as inefficiencies in the workplace. Workaholics get burned out and tired from their frantic pace.  Tired workers make mistakes, spend extra time redoing the mistakes and have a higher incidence of accidents and illnesses.  Studies reveal that 40 hour work week often brings higher productivity than a 60 hour work week.

Chronic fatigue, headaches, backaches, difficulty sleeping, stomach problems and heart problems are all symptoms common in workaholics.  There are often merely disregarded as stress-related.  The fact is a workaholic’s body and mind are on overload and compounded with the inability to relax, devastating results are destined to happen.  Workaholism can be fatal if not prevented or treated timely.

A workaholic’s work style can create obstacles throughout the company.  There is a good possibility that communication problems with co-workers and clients will occur.  For example, since workaholics often exhibit peaks and valleys in job performance, co-workers can get mixed messages.  When a workaholic is “up” it is good for other co-workers.  When she is “down” confusion and miscommunication occur.  A healthy worker has strong communication skills.

A workaholic becomes obsessed about their job while not taking into account the whole picture behind their work.  This can be very dysfunctional in the workplace as the worker simply cannot be obsessive about a client or a particular account for example.  A healthy worker is able to focus on more than one project at a time.

A workaholic may constantly want to revise something in an attempt to make it perfect.  A perfectionist is often inconsistent in his or her productivity. They fluctuate between intense working and procrastination.  A healthy worker finds it best to level or balance out performance.

Often a workaholic needs to be in control in individual work as well as group work.  Since many companies rely on innovative teamwork, the workaholic is not a good team player and can hamper the group’s goals.  Teamwork is an essential component of today’s modern workforce. Problems related to workaholism can lead to inefficiencies in a company.


  • Prefer jobs with important titles and the opportunity to control others
  • Has an obsessive nature about work
  • Needs to be in control
  • Makes endless lists of things to do
  • Exaggerates achievements and rarely mention failures
  • Are often perfectionists
  • Appear to work twice as hard as everyone else
  • May have other addictions to money, food or relationships
  • Cannot say “no” to excessive demands for fear of disapproval
  • Constantly seeks approval which they receive through work (needs to please others)
  • Has either overinflated or under inflated perception of self
  • Has a hard time seeing themselves honestly and accepting who they are
  • Operates in constant crisis mode, usually because their schedule is more than they can handle
  • Inability to relax, workaholics cannot just sit and be
  • Puts in endless hours, foregoes vacations and puts everything else on hold for the sake of work
  • Loses touch with families and friends
  • Denies the problem / disease


  • Learn your company’s mission statement.  Understand the objectives related to achieving it and stay focused.
  • Gain co-workers’ trusts from the beginning.  Take charge of your work and get it done promptly.
  • Do just the opposite of what a workaholic does.  Arrive at work on time and leave when the time is right.
  • Don’t get caught up in the “frantic” mode of work.  Make order out of the chaos.
  • Creatively adapt to the workaholic’s work patterns.  Study the person’s style and habits, and learn what triggers affect their pace of work.
  • Be respectful and helpful to all co-workers ~ Be a Team Player
  • Solve problems with flexibility and learn from the situation


“When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.” ~ Henry J. Kaiser

In conclusion, workaholism is damaging to individuals, their relationships and their workplaces.  It leads to inefficiencies in the work place and can cost employers time and money.  The most valuable asset a worker carries is that of serenity of mind and a healthy physical presence.  If we work ourselves to death at the expense of health and mental well-being, we will ultimately fail.  A healthy company encourages their workers to get the rest, recreation, exercise and self-reflective time necessary in order to be effective and productive players.

I wish you all good luck in the future and encourage you to take your work seriously, yet at the same time enjoy your life to its fullest.


If you suspect you may be a workaholic, your responses to the following 20 statements will help you determine what course of action to take.  How often do each of the following statements apply to you? Give yourself:  0 points for never;  1 point for rarely;  2 points for occasionally;  3 points for often.  Then add your points and refer to the scoring ranges at the bottom.

  1. I find myself irritated or frustrated by situations I think I should be able to handle
  2. I get overly involved emotionally with my clients
  3. I overschedule appointments
  4. I have chronic physical ailments
  5. My spouse/partner, children and friends complain that I’m never home or able to do things with them
  6. I feel I have so much to do that I’ll never get to all of it
  7. I feel successful but not happy
  8. The costs of putting all my energy into my work outweigh the benefits
  9. I get anxious and depressed and wish I could leave the business, but I know I can’t
  10. I must keep driving myself to avoid disaster
  11. I feel edgy, anxious, or guilty when I’m not working
  12. I believe that if I don’t keep up the pace, I won’t survive
  13. I feel tire—nearly exhausted—all the time
  14. Anything less than perfection is failure
  15. I work more than ten hours per day, six or seven days a week
  16. I’m preoccupied with work-related concerns
  17. I keep telling myself that I’ll slow down and take some time off
  18. Work comes first in my life
  19. I feel as if something is wrong, but I don’t know what it is
  20. I have trouble falling asleep at night because I’m thinking about work

Scores:  1-20:  workaholism may not be a problem for you, but you may want to ask the people who know you well whether they agree with you assessments.  21-50:  you could be in the beginning or even the middle stages of workaholism.  Get a physical checkup and implement some changes.  51-60:  You’re most likely under a great deal of stress and have several physical, mental, and emotional symptoms.  Take immediate steps to get professional help.


How My Past Has Brought Me to The Present! Max the Manx, Something New and The Flood! Part 10

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Original blog publication Jan 23, 2012 @ 06:00

January 1993.  All is going well, traveling back and forth to ISU, learning, raising a child, enjoying married life and having my lovable cat Max (the Manx at my side.)  


Then once upon a time, Randy and I started to get an idea and started to explore our options. All seemed to be the right time (trust your instincts people!)  We were both employed (he at DMPS and me at CorVel).  We both felt as we needed a change.  Something new, different, and exciting, so we decided to look around…at houses!

We placed our mobile home “aka trailer #47” (Southridge Estates, behind Southridge Mall) up for sale.  We planned to sell it on our own.  But (and a big but), the owners of the trailer court – one woman in particular, caused all sorts of heart, time and money aches for us. She was money hungry, greedy, selfish, and had an unethical business style. Whatever her problem was, her wicked personality was revealed…and

she was one bad apple.  

I’ve always been a “good guesser” of a person’s personality, which is that person’s particular combination of emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral response patterns.  I prefer to use personality assessments when working directly with placement clients as it provides information that is useful for discussion purposes allowing a counseling relationship to grow.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is popular to find out your “type“.  The MBTI is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.  It is valuable to use when making career decisions.   If you haven’t taken it for yourself, please do!  (It costs, and my link above just gives an overview of it.)

Any guesses on what “type” I am?  You are right!

I am an ENTP – Extraverted Intuition with Thinking

Quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems.  Adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically.  Good at reading other people.  Bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt to turn to one new interest after another.

Click here for a great free personality assessment.  This test is based on Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typological approach to personality.

Anywhoo, we looked at many houses.  Thanks to our realtor DeAnn Lee of Iowa Realty, we found the perfect home, and during the Floods of 1993.  We had just put in a bid for the house, and well, our great city of Des Moines, Iowa came to a standstill.

I just paused from writing to locate the paperback book I own titled Iowa’s Lost Summer:  The Flood of 1993 published by The Des Moines Register.  The book was dedicated to the memory of Spc. Steven M. West, 30, a National Guard soldier from Ogden, Iowa, who was electrocuted July 16, 1993, while on duty in Des Moines.  He was erecting an antenna to allow communications with water trucks when the antenna touched a high-power line.  This book has incredible stories and vivid pictures.   


Iowa’s Lost Summer – The Flood of 1993

My boy Nick, age 3, loved to swim/lounge/splash about in the plastic swimming pool on the back deck of our trailer.  Luckily, I had not emptied it lately for a refill.  It intensely rained cats and dogs for like 15+ days straight and when Water Works was submerged by flood waters (July 11, 1993), the water went out into the City.  My little family of 3 were among 250,000 people without running water for 12 days.

Thank goodness it was completely full of rain water.

I used the rain water from our blue plastic pool for many purposes – a biggie was to flush the toilet, and even to take a bath.  It was boiled and used to wash dishes, and to clean up.  Looking back, I remember taking a bath with about a gallon of water.  Pretty impressive thinking how much water one can use daily under “normal” circumstances.

Remember the cans of drinking water distributed by Budweiser?  

Looking back, I witnessed a lot of people helping a lot of people. Randy did a lot of volunteering – can anyone say sandbagging is fun? I volunteered some, but not nearly as much as he did.  (BTW, during the summer of 93, Randy was taking courses up at ISU – getting on track for his master’s degree!….I’ll get to him in a post soon!

Randy forfeited going to class in Ames to sandbag

After all settled down, to some degree, and life returned to normal to some degree (what’s normal life??!!), the mobile home sold.  I’m glad I have pictures of my canary yellow 1970 Champion home for over four years.  We moved into our first house.  (Well, we had our stuff stored and stayed with Randy’s parents in Saylorville for a while due to timing issues.)  We have a 3 bedroom ranch with a full basement. And OMG a garage and a fenced in backyard!  It was October 1993.

Stay tuned, I hope you are enjoying my posts!  Comments are welcome.  On to Part 11 of How My Past Has Brought Me to The Present!


 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.