Are You Ready for Google’s New Settings?

March 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

5267464508_7326039635_nDid you hear the news?

Google is making major updates to its search results. And if your company’s website is not super mobile friendly, you could be losing some major hits!

Not sure how your website ranks? Try using Google’s Webmaster Tool to see how your site adds up. You can also use their Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to see just how “friendly” your site is. If Google says it’s not so friendly, they will give you a list of options on how to proceed to the next step.

Time is short to make these updates. Google is already beginning to implement these changes, with the major impacts starting on April 21st.

While you’re updating your site’s coding, take a look at your content. How effective is it? Have you been getting the results you need off of your website? When is the last time you changed your content? If it’s pretty much the same content you started with, you should think about making some updates. Fresh content impacts your Google ratings as well, and a stagnant site will not get as much attention as one that has recently been updated.

Also take a look at how professional your content is. Does it portray your business in the best possible manner? Or are there grammar issues? Typos? Elementary sentence styling? Can you tell that an amateur wrote it, or does it sound like you paid a lot of money for a true professional to write it? Does it relate to your audience, in their “language”?

The answers to these questions are all important considerations. You don’t just want a web presence. You want a web presence that will reach your target audience. You want a presence that will get you and your business true results!

Your website is a reflection of your business and you want to appear as professional as possible. You want people to have confidence in your products and services. Believe it or not, if people are searching Google for a service, the “tone” of the site will determine whether if you get a call or not. If the site looks too amateurish, they will move on to the next one on the list. If all other considerations are the same between two businesses, people will pick the one with the better site, every time.

If you’re not sure if your content is at the standard it should be, contact us. Silverpen Productions does free consultations and estimates. Let us help you make your site the best it can possibly be and be sure that you stay at the top of Google’s rankings, regardless of the upcoming changes!


Photo Credit: Google Main Search via photopin (license)


The HIMYM Dilemma From A Writing View

April 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

medium_5703469429SPOILER ALERT

Ok, so we all know that How I Met Your Mother ended this week. After 9 years of watching, the show’s loyal fans finally got all their answers. And while some were quite satisfied, most of the fans were left confused and angry. Was this show really supposed to be called How I Met Your Stepmother??

Personally, I’m a little torn on my opinion of this ending. On one hand, it’s a tidy roundabout finish – it ties up the story, and it’s nice to think that your first love can come back. On the other hand, I was disappointed. I felt that Ted’s character had grown throughout the series and actually evolved beyond Robin. I was excited to see him find true love with someone new and felt a little robbed by the mom being more like a long montage than anything else.

But personal feelings aside, let’s take a look at this strictly from a writing structure point of view. A good story obviously has a distinct beginning, middle, end. A good story has foreshadowing, repeating patterns or symbols, compelling characters that not only draw you into their world, but become so familiar they are a part of your world. A good story, like life, often has various twists and turns, bringing us down a different track and always keeping us on our toes.

Does HIMYM have these things? Yes, it most absolutely does. Everyone can point out the repeating themes of Ted’s quest for love, his big gestures, his dogged & determined romantic side, the blue horn, the slap bet, The Playbook, The Bro Code, and “Legendary” moments – the list could easily go on. Every character was on a journey and we knew their love and loyalty for each other was what always carried them through. They grew up together. They grew together.

The creators have stated they knew their ending from the very beginning and the story across the seasons show that. It always came back to Robin. That blue horn periodically made an appearance. We knew the mother herself was not a major part of the story. The story was really more about Ted’s journey. Not only his journey in finding the mother, but his journey in finding himself and growing up in the process.

So does the fact that he eventually ends up with Robin anyway, blue horn in hand, make sense in terms of story structure?

Well, yes, it does. Life, like stories, have repeating themes. Robin is one of Ted’s themes for sure. The story came full circle and everything was tied up. There were no other questions left to be answered. Except for perhaps the question of how the future of Ted & Robin would work this time. Yes, Ted already has the kids, so that solves that problem. But Robin is still a famous world reporter that has to travel all the time. Ted is much more of a responsible homebody than Barney ever was, plus he has kids. So if it didn’t work for Barney, why would Ted & Robin work any better considering the difference in their lifestyles?

But that wasn’t the point of the ending. The point was the story coming full circle. It may not have been the most satisfying ending that fans were looking for, but that’s life too – it’s not always a clean, satisfying end.

Could it still have worked the other way? Could Robin have stayed just Aunt Robin and Ted ended his dialogue with, “And that, kids, is how I met your mother.”? That could have been followed by a montage of some snapshots and/or “home videos” before a fade to black. The End.

Yup – that could have worked too. Maybe it wouldn’t have brought the story to a complete full circle like ending up under Robin’s window again, but it still would have worked well with the themes because Ted evolved. He learned from his on-again off-again relationship with Robin. He found out what really mattered to him and what the kind of love was that he needed in his life. What the mother of his children should be like. And even if she still ended up dying, it would be ok because he has learned over the last 9 years that it isn’t just about the end result – it’s about the journey, the story itself. It’s about the adventures, the people you meet along the way, and the knowledge you gain. The happiness and life in general that you experience is what makes up your story, not your ending. In the end, he knew that’s what it was really all about. Not just mom, but what made up the path leading to mom. That was his story all along (with or without Robin).

Yes, that ending could have worked too.

But then, if that had been the ending, everyone wouldn’t be talking about it so much, would they?


What did you think about the ending of How I Met Your Mother?  Did you like what the creators decided to do? How did you feel it fit in terms of a writing technique?

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Kwintin via photopin cc

Keep Stress at Bay Every Day

March 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Stress is now considered the foremost contributor to our modern chronic maladies. Recent medical research by well-known clinicians has shown that stress is a major factor in causing heart disease, cancer, and a myriad of chronic and acute diseases of today’s world.”
-Nischala Joy Devi*

stuartpilbrow via photopin cc

Stress is a huge factor in our everyday lives – it doesn’t matter if you’re naturally a chronic worrier or if you are a yoga meditation master – stress is still there. The world is naturally stressful now – just the physical noise of modern-day life alone is enough to send your body into overdrive, but add on financial worries, career pressures, family life, terrorism & increasing societal violence in general, constantly changing technology, sedentary jobs – the list can go on and on. These factors all add to a stressful environment. And stress – both physical and mental – can lead to a whole host of problems.

While there are some things we can do to lower the stressors in our environment, unfortunately, many of these factors are now a part of everyday life and we just can’t avoid them. So what do we do? How do we avoid unavoidable stress from taking over our lives?

“Physical and mental stress accumulate. This can lead to fatigue, a drop in performance level, and a feeling of anxiety. If not checked, stress creates more serious problems and disease occurs. Mental and physical dis-ease OR well-being can be fundamentally improved by acquiring a few simple tension-lowering techniques…. While stressful events around us may not change, we can learn how to respond skillfully to life’s difficulties, maintaining our equilibrium and a sense of well-being.”*


1. Accept that there are many things in our lives that we can’t control.
Sometimes you have to just make yourself let go and let it be.

2. Make time to exercise.
Although this may seem like added pressure to your day, it is proven that exercise not only helps you to mentally feel better, but the more fit and strong your body is, the better it can fight stress. Activities like walking, hiking, bicycling, swimming, the gym, yoga, Zumba, etc. all help to instantly lower your stress level. Don’t feel like you have an hour or so for a “full workout”? Try to at least work in 20-30 minutes of one of these activities – you can still gain full stress-relief benefits even in a shorter amount of time.

3. Add in extra time whenever possible.
Give yourself extra time to do things. Perhaps leave a few minutes earlier or start that upcoming project a week in advance. When you are able to give yourself those few extra minutes, it takes away the stress of the impending deadline, or that unexpected traffic jam. Work is stressful enough – you don’t need to start the stress process just by trying to get there!

4. Avoid the “quick fixes.”
Things like alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and recreational drugs may seem like they help, but the effect is just a short-term mirage. They actually add to the stress level in your body and will exacerbate anxiety. Keep your use to an extreme minimum, or better yet, not at all!

VinothChandar via photopin cc5. Take a break.
Hitting a freak out level? Stop yourself and walk away. Even just a 5-10 minute break will help (Heck, even 2 minutes can help!). Take a walk. Go someplace quiet and do some deep breathing – anything to just slow you down for a moment.

6. Watch your breath.
It is amazing how much the breath affects both the body and mind. Most people today naturally take shallow, fast breaths from their chests.

“When you breathe mostly from your chest, the part of your nervous system that increases your arousal and heart rate gets stimulated. Plus, you use mostly your chest muscles to do the work. Your chest muscles are not really designed for breathing the way that certain abdominal muscles are. In instances of extreme chest breathing, people will even feel sensations of tightness or pain in the chest as these muscles get tired. On the other hand, taking deep breaths from your belly stimulates the branch of your nervous system linked to slowing the body down, resting, and relaxing.”**

 sierragoddess via photopin ccMany times our inhalation is longer than the exhalation. However, long exhalations give our heart time to relax, since the heart only rests in between beats. A long, slow exhalation will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and allow you that much-needed feeling of relaxation. Not sure how to breathe with your diaphragm instead of your chest? Try this trick –

Lie flat on your back on the floor. Place a book on your stomach just under your rib cage. Take a deep breath and send all the air down to your stomach. Your stomach should expand and naturally lift the book up in the air. Slowly breathe out, allowing the book to go back down. Once you get the hang of breathing into your stomach, concentrate on slow breaths – four counts in, four counts out.

Anytime you feel your anxiety level rising, turn your attention to your breath. Is it all in your chest? Take a minute to pull a few slow breaths down into your diaphragm and you will feel an instant calming effect and a clearer mind. Try to use at least a few minutes each day to sit and just focus on breathing.

7. Eat healthy.
Regular wholesome foods allow your body to work smoothly, without the added stress of trying to process junk. Like exercise, it also allows your body to be in strong physical condition to more easily fight off the effects of stress.

8. Use imagery.

“Imagery, our inner guidance, allows us to create and experience. It is the language of the mind…. We practice positive imagery as a means to allow the mind and body to mobilize all available resources that assist in the healing process. This creates an intention that brings about positive physiological and psychological responses, such as lowering of blood pressure, boosting of immune function, clarity of mind, calming of brain waves, decreased heart rate, production of a feeling of well-being. Through positive mental imagery, signals are sent to the body to help it repair and sustain energy.”*

There are many forms of imagery, but if you use even a basic method, imagery can help calm and focus the system and make your stressors more manageable. Here’s an easy method of imagery:

Picture yourself relaxed, feeling good, full of energy. Everything is done that needs to be. Picture your body strong, healthy, healed. If you are worried about a particular task – picture it completed in your mind. “See” it done the way you want it to be – in its “perfect” state.

susivinh via photopin cc9. Sleep.
Our bodies heal themselves when we sleep, as do our minds. Sleep allows us to process the events of the day and the worries stuck in our heads. It allows the brain to “clean” itself and let go of everything we don’t need. Sleep heals the mind just as much as the body. Force yourself to go to bed at a decent hour every night to allow the body to recharge so you can approach the day from a calm, “clean” slate, and be stronger and ready to fight off the rest of the stressors of the day as they come.

10. Attitude adjustment.
“Fake it till you make it.” That phrase can be so annoying sometimes, but is so true. Try to keep a positive attitude. Instead of saying things like, “Nothing ever works right for me,” say, “I’m doing my best.” “This will work right.” Instead of, “I feel so tired and crappy all the time,” tell yourself, “I feel great. I am strong. I am capable. I can do this.”

It takes work to remove stress, or at least the effects of stress from our lives. There are many methods out there – some more complicated and time-consuming than others – but these few tips are ones that you can easily work into your everyday life to get started.

Deep breath in. Slow breath out.


*From The Healing Path of Yoga: Time-Honored Wisdom and Scientifically Proven Methods that Alleviate Stress, Open Your Heart, and Enrich Your Life, by Nischala Joy Devi

**From Women Who Worry Too Much by Holly Hazlett-Stevens, Ph.D.

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Photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc
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Project: Organize – The Closets – Part I

March 11, 2014 § Leave a comment


I think one of the biggest organization suck zones is the closet. It never seems tidy, no matter how many times you re-fold the clothes. Plus, I’m always faced with the question of, regardless of how many clothes are in there, why do I always open the door and still feel like I have nothing to wear?!?

When I started my Project: Organize, my plan was to begin in my home office. Despite it being a very important room in the house, it became partially a dump zone when we moved a couple of years ago. We moved at a crazy time and I just did not have enough time to go through everything properly and organize like I normally would while setting up a new room. And since my office is tucked away out of sight, with a very convenient door to close, it became the place to put those nagging things that you can go through “later” just to get them out of the way.

A lot of the junk is papers and things that built up, waiting for a home that never happened. I know that at this point, much of it is garbage, but I also know there are a few important items mixed in there. Which means, I have to sit down and go through each little thing piece by piece. And considering the piles and piles of these, on top of the archive files, and other things that still need a home (we won’t talk about that pile of magazines), my office was a very daunting task. As much as I love my little space, working in there drives me crazy. The room is such a distracting mess that it carries over into my mind and makes it very hard to concentrate and work. It seemed like the logical place to start.

But I quickly realized it would also be the most frustrating and time-consuming place. Even if I was making good progress, it wouldn’t look like it for quite a while, and I didn’t want to get frustrated so early on. I wanted to feel successful and motivated.

So I decided to start smaller. I started with the front hall closet instead. Coats were jammed in. Hats & gloves were exploding everywhere and never seemed to have a match. Scarves would jump out every time I opened the door – it was a mess.

First, I went through and pulled all the coats we no longer wear and put them in a separate bag to bring to the shelter. Next, I pulled all the kid coats that didn’t fit but we wanted to save for hand-me-downs, and packed them away in a bin. This was a good start! I actually saw space in the closet and could already breathe a little better! So I moved on. I took a couple of multi-tiered pant hangers and hung all the scarves on those. Now we could easily see and retrieve each one of them without having to create a tornado to find the one we want.

My “everyday” bags went in a basket on the shelf. Then I created a container for each of us to have for our hats, gloves, and sunglasses. Our dog also got her own basket for her various leashes, poop bags, tennis ball, etc. I put a couple more small bins on the floor – one for my husband’s cycling stuff (no more helmet rolling out on me every time I open the door – yay!), and one for my dance shoes and teaching paraphernalia. The umbrellas were tucked on the side, the vacuum took its own corner, there was a spot for my work bag, and still room to spare! I pulled all the extra hangers out, leaving a couple for guest coats, and now suddenly we had room to move things around in there. We could see everything we had and could easily access it all. It was exhilarating!

I actually felt like I accomplished something and I could see the physical outcome of my efforts. I was now even more motivated to see how far I could take this project.

I moved on to my daughter’s closet. She recently had a growth spurt, so I pulled the majority of her clothes that no longer fit, rearranged the others, gave her her own shoe rack, and rearranged her dresser while I was at it. She was almost as pleased as I was – this was fun!

I decided to tackle a harder one – our bedroom closet. There are clothes of all different sizes in there (yay baby weight), shoes from various decades, leftover things that we just didn’t know where to put them. I started with the shoes. Bought an awesome shoe shelf and got those up off the floor. It already looked a lot better! Next item – tackle my clothes. This has proven to be a bit harder. I have a sentimental side, so some things are just hard for me to toss. I already have two bags of clothes pulled, though, so it’s a start.

That’s where I had to leave off. The other closets gave me such a dorky little “high” I can’t wait to finish this one. I’m excited to get things organized, find out what actually fits me now, and make the closet more “user-friendly” for both of us.

The closet part of this project is going to extend not only to all the closets in the house, but the drawers, cabinets, and everything along those lines. I learned some neat tricks when we had to stage our old house before we moved, so I’m going to add on to that and really get this place in tip-top shape. There are also so many great organizational tools out there now. I have a friend who works for Thirty-One, so I’m planning on having a party once the weather gets a little nicer to not only get some new gadgets for myself, but to help my friends start their own mini organizing projects for Spring cleaning. This has been too fun not to share!

More to come!


I would love to hear feedback from my readers during this project.  Have you had a similar experience to my need for more organization? How do you tackle the closet dilemma? 

Please comment on these blogs with your experiences as well! I know there are many people out there who have needed to re-evaluate, organize, or make certain changes in their lives and I would love to have a section that can take my personal experiences to a more global level and create a community involved in this mission!

More on Project: Organize

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Dance Spotlight: The Scandalous Waltz

March 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

medium_3966577401As with most dances, the exact origin of the waltz is a little murky. There are references to peasant folk dances that seem to be early forms of the waltz as far back as 13th century Germany, but these references are more prevalent in the 1500s.

The waltz was originally viewed as a very scandalous dance since this was the first time dancers were seen holding in a close embrace. A man reaching his hand around a woman’s waist in public was unheard of, but by the late 18th century, the 3/4 time waltz had become more mainstream and was finding its way into the more formal halls, ballrooms, and even the royal ballrooms. Since it was still viewed as an immoral dance, it of course, quickly grew in popularity and made its way over to the United States in the mid 1800s. The dance slowly became more accepted, and by 1900, over three quarters of dance programs were just waltzes. The style of the waltz has changed through the years and has become a more relaxed version in later years. However, once the Foxtrot hit the scene around the time of World War I, the Waltz almost died out completely. It still managed to stay around, though, and popularity began to eventually rise again to carry the dance through today.

Even though it is far from being viewed as a scandalous dance anymore, the waltz is still seen as an elegant and romantic dance. Characterized by a graceful rise and fall, the waltz sweeps around the room with smooth, elegant steps and rotating movements. It is still the highlight of many ballroom competitions in the smooth division. While some moves require you to stay in one spot, the waltz is classified as a traveling dance and generally flows around the floor. Waltz is typically the dance people think of when they hear the term “ballroom dance” and is still very popular at weddings and more formal events. There are variations in style between American and International waltz, as well as variations between regions.

Photo Credit: Double–M via photopin cc

Are Your Employees in a Toxic Work Environment?

March 7, 2014 § 2 Comments

How is your work environment? Are your employees happy?
Healthy? Motivated? Productive?

Do you spend more time worrying about the regulations at your workplace than actually doing the important work at hand?
How’s your turnover rate?

There are ways to ensure that your work environment stays productive with satisfied employees and it can start with just a few simple steps…


medium_2473053902Very few people start a company with the intent of creating a toxic work environment for their employees, but many people don’t realize how their actions as an administration can very quickly create this effect.

A friend was telling me about some recent changes in her workplace, and sadly, this is a story that could be from many workplaces around the country –

Her administration changed. The new team came in and made a LOT of changes before they even learned about what was really happening at the company. They fired all of the managers – including ones that would have been extremely helpful to them. They hired new people that were not really qualified or experienced enough for their new roles. They changed almost every office procedure. They “re-organized” the departments. New rules and regulations began popping up daily. They started watching computers, blocking access to many sites, monitoring emails, phone calls, etc. Micromanaging was an understated term. Laughing or anything that even remotely resembled socializing quickly became taboo. Communication was basically nonexistent. The employees had to learn about the changes either by word of mouth or when they were handed one of the written discipline slips that were suddenly becoming a regular occurrence.

Some companies do indeed need big changes. This particular one did not need many of the changes that were implemented. In fact, the changes have caused much higher inefficiency. Clients are not being properly served and client satisfaction is going down. Employee morale and motivation is at an unprecedented low. Innovation has stopped. A place that once had a building full of pleasant, smiling, productive employees who enjoyed their jobs is now a quiet and stress-filled mausoleum. Use of sick days have gone up and several employees have unfortunately seen the inside of the emergency room in the last couple of years since this change went into effect. You can feel the tension the moment you walk in the door. Everyone thought it would get better as the new administration settled in, but it just keeps getting worse…


Every workplace has its stressors, and change of any kind – even good change – can be very stressful. As an employer, sometimes you have no control over the inevitable stress in your workplace. However, you should always be aware of how things are affecting your employees.

This particular example is an extreme case (and I’ve only listed a few of the things going on there), but it is a perfect demonstration of how these things can affect your environment. You have a team of adults – over-regulating, monitoring, and stifling natural human behaviors is NOT going to go over well. Not communicating with them and only handing out confusing discipline notices without ever acknowledging the good work they do is going to only serve as motivation to NOT do their jobs. If they’re afraid that anything they do is going to get them in trouble, then they’ll just stop doing anything.

So how do you keep your workplace non-toxic?

Clear communication is key. And lighten up whenever you can! Google is consistently listed as one of Fortune’s top places to work and it is because they do NOT have a lot of crazy regulations on their employees. Their buildings look like adult playgrounds and their employees are allowed to come and go whenever they please. In addition to their everyday stress relief benefits (like nap pods, game rooms, dogs at work, free food, free massages, slides from floor to floor, bowling, etc.) they also offer many wellness and continuing ed benefits. Some are work related, but some are not. And guess what? Google is also one of the highest ranked, innovative, and productive companies around.

Granted, most workplaces can not even come close to the extent that Google goes to for their employees, and that’s ok. At the very least, take advantage of all the research Google has already completed about creating a productive work atmosphere. Every one of their employee “benefits” are based on data that they first researched, and it has all paid off.

Be sure your work environment isn’t toxic. Show your employees that you care. Even if you can’t control anything else, at the very least you can begin some form of a workplace wellness program. Give your employees the tools they need to release stress, increase their health, and boost energy and mood. Show appreciation and respect any way you can. Allow them to be adults, and you will see motivation and productivity rise, while sick days and turnover will drop.

Check in with your work environment as much as possible to keep it fresh and “clean.” The world is toxic enough, work shouldn’t be too!

“Imagine a world where most organizations were the best place to work. Imagine what we could be getting done on the planet if it were true.”
-Karen May, VP of people development, Google

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What Does It Mean?

March 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

Words2Have you ever really thought about where the words you use everyday come from?

I’m a writer, so obviously I love language. Wordplay is a part of my job and I actually get excited about learning different ways to use language to enhance my writing. I have always enjoyed hearing how a particular phrase came about and learning the origins of a word, but I have to admit, I do not actively seek out these tidbits of information. I take for granted all the words I do know and don’t think twice about the true meaning behind them. Until recently…

The last few years, I have been privileged to know a wonderful and inspiring woman who is originally from Russia. If you met her, you would never know that she just received her citizenship a couple of years ago, or has been living in this country for only a few years altogether. Her English – wait, let me clarify that – her American English is flawless. She not only knows proper English, but she knows all the slang and common phrases that we naturally use everyday. It is very rare that I see her trip up on something someone says to her.

I asked her how she did it. I mean, I took Spanish in high school, and although I earned good grades, I was FAR from a fluent speaker. Learning a new language is hard work! And English has so many double meanings, I can imagine that it would be doubly tough to become a fluent American speaker.

She said she just immersed herself in it.  And she studied.  If she hears a word she doesn’t know, she writes it down. She has a whole book of words and phrases that she can look back on and study whenever she needs to.

However, I’ve also observed that she doesn’t just teach herself the words, she asks the origins too. Sometimes she’ll ask me what something means and although I know the word, I have to really stop myself and think about how to explain it without using the actual word. I love when she asks me these things since it forces me to not only use my brain, but to also evaluate my own language and my personal communication skills. I get excited when she asks me about the origins of a phrase and I don’t really know the answer, because then we look it up together and the information is usually so interesting!

We have a rich history to our language that has contributions from so many different cultures. Until I met her, I never really thought about that. It has forced me to look at language, and thus my writing, in a whole new way. I really think about the words I’m using much more than I ever used to. In fact, she has inspired me. Not only do I want to one day learn a different language for myself, but I want to learn about my own language even more.

The realistic side of me knows that I just do not have the time to do this to the degree I really want to, but my goal is to set aside a little time here and there to look up new words and learn the origin and history for my own information. Not only will it be good for my own personal growth and enrichment, but it will also enhance my writing in new ways and add a new layer of quality to my work. There’s always room for improvement!


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Prom Tips

March 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

High School Prom

Photo Courtesy of

Looking for some tips on how to look great while dancing at the prom?

How about the best way to dance in a fancy dress or tux?

Feeling nervous about getting out there on that floor?

For what to expect on the dance floor at this year’s prom, check out Jenna’s quick tips for Looking Like a Pro at Your Prom in this year’s Saratoga Prom Guide, and you’ll have the confidence you need to look great whether if you know how to dance or not!

Saratoga Prom Guide’s Tips For Dancing at the Prom


Just a Thought: A Different Perspective

March 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our society tends to be very linear these days. There seems to be a regulation or procedure for everything. Social media is overflowing with people constantly arguing about which side is “right” or “wrong.” Why does there always only have to be just one answer? The beauty in this world comes from the differences. Some of the best things in life came about because first, someone had a little originality.

That’s one of the many things I love about the Arts – they often make you look at things from a different perspective.

The motto at Skidmore College is “Creative Thought Matters.” How true in so many ways! Most of the time there isn’t just one way to do things. There isn’t just one clear answer. And, how you come to your own answer really all depends on how you approach it.

There is not a clear-cut category for every little thing (Thank goodness!). Perhaps that is why a group like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra became so huge over the last several years. From the name, it sounds like they’re just your standard orchestra, but have you ever been to one of their shows?  There is nothing “standard” about them! Go to one of their concerts and you’ll see that their audience includes children right up to senior citizens. Not too many groups can pull that one off!

The below video has been making the rounds on social media lately and does the same type of thing. You are set up with an expectation – 2 cellos, old-fashioned attire. But then you are shocked with a rock & roll sound – looking at things from a different perspective. And what a wonderful, magical, awesome outcome!

That’s how we should approach life – look at things from a different perspective. Use creative thought. Keep everyone around you on their toes and your brain fresh. Always look for another way. Don’t fall into “the standard” trap of doing or thinking about everything in the “usual” way. Have an open mind. Step out. Step up. Make your mark in your own personal world. You’d be surprised how much magic can creep into your life!

Just a thought.

New Year, New You – Blah Blah Blah

January 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’ve been seeing it everywhere – “New Year, New You!” Initially, it’s a nice sentiment — It’s a fresh year, make a fresh start. Now is your chance for a change.

But let’s face it – we all know those New Year’s resolutions are pretty much shot by March. And what really changes? You’re still you. Ok, so the number on the calendar went up one more notch, but everything else is still the same. You still have the same job. You still have the same body. You still have the same problems. That pile of work you left on your desk just before the Christmas break is still going to be there. Your to-do list hasn’t been deleted. In fact, it now is even longer since it has your New Year’s resolutions added to it.  Nothing has been truly erased – it’s all still there.

I’m not trying to be a “Negative Nelly” here. I’m just being realistic. As nice as the thought is to wipe the slate clean with the new year, it just can’t happen.

Instead of New Year, New You, how about New Year, Better You? Because let’s face it, you’re still you.  And that’s a good thing! You’ve spent your whole life becoming who you are. You’ve worked hard to get here, and even if you don’t like everything about your life, you don’t really want to erase your history. That’s your backstory – it leads up to the exciting climax. A new year is really just a new chapter in the book of your life. Which way is your story going to go now?

When thinking about my New Year’s resolutions this year, I’ve decided to get rid of the notion of a whole new life and fresh start. I am merely turning the page and developing my story in a better direction. I am an ongoing masterpiece. I will keep the good things and revise the things that need some work. I am the master behind my own story – I control the pen, so it is up to me to decide what comes next. My decisions determine whether my character is a strong one or a boring one. I might stumble. I might fall back on some old habits. But I know the direction my story needs to take and I will continue to work toward that, and enjoy every aspect of the journey along the way.

A good story has twists and turns, highs and lows. We must learn to relish the same in our own lives. We don’t need to completely change. We just need to strive toward that better revision, develop our story, and add to our plot.

Here’s to a New Year, BETTER You!
Happy 2014!

Image Courtesy of: Silverpen Productions, LLC.  Images should not be used without prior permission & license from Silverpen Productions, LLC.

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