Pretzelgate 2019

Control reactions

🤔”Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” ― Irving Berlin

🔶Reactionary responses rarely are the best—especially if you are in a stressful situation. 

🔶Yesterday, I was trying to get some rest as I worked the overnight shift. Thankfully, I got a solid short nap in. I woke to the sight of the contents of a 20 Oz pretzel 🥨 bag scattered on the living room floor. 

🔶Immediately, I fretted. I got angry. In hindsight I realized it was actually a bit humorous. 

🔶The kids were just trying to get a snack without waking me. Plus, Avila did benefit from Pretzelgate! 

🔶She crawled swiftly over and took a fistful of pretzels for her snack. Grinning from ear to ear she held up her delicious trophy triumphantly.

🤔”Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.”

🔶In the Chicoine House life is 10% of what you make of it, 90% of your perspective, and 100% about 🥨 . 

Pretzel day the office

🔶I needed not get salty in  attitude. I should have merely went to work cleaning up by enjoying the crunchy and salty snack.

🔶How has time changed your perspective on a negative event for you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below. 😊

 #perspective  #chicoinecontent  #lifequotes  #lifelessons

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Thinking About the Box (of Creativity)

Cardboard Boxes

📦📦📦Think outside the box! Don’t box yourself inside the walls of your situation. But what if you thought ABOUT the box itself??

I found an empty cardboard box 📦 at work last night—I work part-time a grocery store so I see hundreds of boxes daily. Two things made this box different:

  • The box was not for me it was for my six-year old daughter. Her favorite class is art and she has made countless cardboard creations at home. My favorite and the one I think was the most creative was a “living room” out of an empty shoebox. She made a TV, remote, couch, and food area for her stuffed animals. Boxes have overtaken sticks and rocks as the new favorite toy in the Chicoine household.

 

  • This box was uniquely shaped. Still rectangular it contained an opening on the front and extra cardboard pieces (they were used as dividers to separate the different flavors of the cereal).

Don’t Over-analyze Creativity

Thinking about the “box” or situation before you can actually help to generate creative or outside the box ideas. Boxes generally carry (no pun intended) the connotation of conformity, uniformity, or sameness. People want to stand out. Be unique. Individuals. It is just part of human nature.

The times I most often struggle with creativity are when I box myself in. I believe I have to re-invent the wheel (or box). Desiring to develop a 100% brand new idea without reference to others is not only ambitious it is selfish. Ideas don’t occur in a vacuum. Every thought, idea, project, or endeavor was influenced by someone: your parents, children, spouse, friend, boss, society, books, music, or the information sea of the Internet.

Who Influenced You?

My daughter was that influence for me in picking up that box. As I passed by the cardboard box I asked my co-worker who was stocking items for Aisle 8, “Hey, it is alright if I take this box? My kid loves creates things from cardboard.” He replied, “Sure! It is good to know there is creative people. That is what we need more in school individuals going against the grain. Thinking for themselves.”

💭 How have you fostered creativity in your work and hobbies recently?

💭Have you thought about the “boxes” in your life? Why or why not? If you, what did you learn?

💭What type of cardboard creation do you think my daughter will create with that box today?

Empty boxes provide us opportunity to examine our situations from multiple perspectives: internally, externally, and even simply neutrally about life. Give yourself time this week to be reflect on your goals. You will be surprised how creativity will spring forth!

Thank you for sharing!

10 Tips to Help You Create Better Content

Life is going to throw you curve balls. Be prepared to adapt. But what if life sends that elusive knuckle ball? Preparation can only go so far in these types of situations. Today, I felt like a hundred knuckle balls were aimed at me. I had a bunch of tasks I wanted to accomplish. So far, I have missed. There was a thunderstorm last night. This woke up and scared my three-year-old and nine-month-old kids.

Working the night shift, I did not expect to get much sleep anyway. To make matters a bit more complicated was finding out my five-year-old was running a fever. 1 sick kid + tired 2 kids + 1 tired sad = a knuckle ball kind of day. So far, I have found a way to make through the morning (and hopefully the rest of the day) with in the most graceful way possible for me.

Content Creation

 

 

 

 

This post is the compilation of 10 tips for content creation in 10 days. Originally, I posted these content strategies on LinkedIn, but I figured why limit myself to one platform when other content creators would benefit from some of the tips that worked for me.

💡Tip #1—Complete tasks using chunking, micro-chunking, or nano-chunking depending on your schedule and ability for the day

Breaking up a task (writing, reading, email follow-up, lead research, etc) into manageable bits of time helped get me to achieve something. Something is better than nothing.

I  pause many times or step into another room to center myself whenever parenting gets too stressful. It actually took me at least 3 Nano chunks (1-2 minute time segments) to complete this first tip! Placing a time barrier between you and the overwhelming into definitely helps.

💡 Tip #2 Focus on one goal or group of goals at a time

Some weeks or seasons of your life are more challenging than others. Maybe you left ended such a season in your own life. Perhaps you are in the calm of the storm. All I know for certain is that you will encounter resistance again in the future. I am in the middle of the stress tsunami.

Sharpening my focus to specific areas of my work has helped prepare me to better weather this storm. Below are just a couple examples of my focused goals for today and the rest of the week:

  • Post at least once a day on social media
  • Do creative/free form writing for at least 30 minutes sometime this week
  • Read at least 5-10 minutes a day
  • Begin to carve time in my schedule to listen to podcasts about marketing

I know I cannot achieve all 4 goals every single day, but my goal is to focus on and name the specific goal and at least be consistent in my approach to working towards it. Consistency is an investment that you rarely see a return on in the present. What tools/resources/advice have you implemented to help you focus your goals?

💡Tip 3—It is okay to adjust your goals

Earlier this week, I mentioned this has been a ‘knuckle ball’ type of week. Challenges kept coming at me, yet there was no pattern to them. Monday and Tuesday, I kept swinging and missing. I almost gave up and shut down for the week.

Instead, I adjusted my productivity goals. Dealing with sick children and an erratic work schedule I realized this was going to be a less productive period. I maintained consistency but limited the frequency of content produced. See it is easy to give up when life sends you knuckle balls. I used to have an all or nothing (home run or strikeout) mindset.

If you can’t give it 110% everyday what is the point in trying? Realistically it is not always possible to be at or over 100%. You may get sick. Family obligations supersede work goals. That balance may not happen all the time.

Consistency is what will help weather you through these trials. Hit for average not power:  Are you more of a power hitter with your work goals or a person who shoots for average/consistency?  How have you endured a ‘knuckle ball’ week?

Rest

💡Tip 4—Rest is Necessary in order to improve productivity

I have started taking off most of the weekend (starting last weekend) from social media. I am realizing more and more that it is not realistic for me to post daily and comment often on others’ posts. I am a parent to special needs kids first.

This week drained me of all my mental stamina. It was a week of regression for my three-year-old. I know a lot of people only post the positive stuff and shy away from the real challenges of life. But I am not your normal connection. I am being honest here.

Don’t give into the pressure to create content like a machine. Rest. I am going to cut back on my overall social media a bit as I rest and strategize how I can be more efficient with creating content and still focus on my family.

Have you ever been so worn down from life’s challenges that you had to limit or eliminate your social media activity?

💡Tip #5 Clear and consistent communication overcomes the toughest of situations

Whether you work remotely, in the office, or odd hours it is important to keep your boss and peers at work in the loop. Any transition point in a project or process requires extra diligence. Find how your co-workers prefer to receive information (email, text, in person, phone call etc) and flex to their preference.

Communicating in a variety of ways not only allows you to work well with others but shows your ability to adapt. Always provide a short recap of the main points of a meeting of phone call. Ask clarifying questions to check for understanding especially if you are working on a complex process.

💡Tip #6—Dedicate time every work to work on your craft

Carve our 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. Whatever time segment works with your schedule make that the goal you aim for. Call this your “base goal” a non-negotiable on the absolute minimum amount of time to work daily. With my topsy-turvy work schedule and raising young children my base goal is 5 minutes daily.

Make a stretch goal on days you have more free time. What I mean is add extra “x number of minutes” to your base goal these days. Ex: Wednesdays and Saturday’s I don’t work any of my part-time jobs. So, I up my stretch goals a lot—to an hour.

Not hitting your stretch goals should never cause you worry or anxiety. This is bonus time. Achieving stretch goals should invoke gratitude.

Do you set daily or weekly goals? If so, why do find it helpful? If not, what is stopping you from setting up goals?

💡Tip #7—Getting feedback from your audience will help improve your content

You could be a superior writer interweaving complex ideas together in a beautiful way, but it you are not generating content that resonates with your audience it is ultimately a selfish and futile work.

Feedback

J.K. Rowling began her Harry Potter series not for herself, but as a bedtime story for her children. She know the kind of content that would be easily picked up by kids. J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired to Roverandom to entertain his son after losing his favorite toy. Selfless acts of creation blossomed into classic tales that continue to give joy to readers today. One way to get feedback is to simply ask.

What kinds of questions do you have about content creation? Do you prefer standalone posts, or would you like to see a content series based on a theme? What prevents you from engaging with certain content on LinkedIn?

💡Tip #8—Getting feedback from your audience is only as important as your consistent execution of that feedback into content

It is important to listen. That often involves follow-up questions or noticing the engagement on the content you implement will go a long way towards fostering a solid relationship between you and your audience. I did get feedback on whether people wanted to see a series based on a theme or standalone posts. The verdict was it was a bit of both. I plan to continue the unique posts but will be creating more of a themed content series broken up in the course of a few days or a week.

What are some of the obstacles in your way of implementing the feedback once you got it from your audience? For me it is time and family obligations—my nine-month-old is teething still and having trouble sleeping through the night.  What are some strategies or tools that helped you implement feedback promptly and consistency?

💡Tip #9—Higher priorities will bump your content goals down the queue sometimes and that is normal

Full disclosure: My 10 tips in 10 days has been a misnomer as a couple days I had to miss because of dealing with regression in my autistic son’s progress. Yesterday, was challenging as we painted our living room (thankfully we had some family come up for help). But any deviation from our schedule big or small incites a meltdown unless we uber-prepare him. The latest meltdowns were like wrangling a squid with the tenacity of a wolverine and the sound of a jet engine. Some days it takes me entire mental stamina to maintain a sane semblance of composure. I was 100% drained.

Don’t get down if you miss a day so long. Consistency does not always mean creating daily, but generating, on average, a repetitive and predictable schedule. The weekend often mean family comes first and this was the case yesterday.

How have different and higher priorities impacted your content creation and productivity of your work recently?

💡Tip #10—Content is versatile across platforms

There are so many different types of social media and communication platforms today to publish your material. Audio, written, and video. As I previously mentioned, originally these tips were created for LinkedIn, but realized I was limiting myself to only a single audience if I kept this content solely on one platform.

Combining the ten tips did not take up too much time. I basically had to update the format to read as a blog article (I included headings and ensured I broke up the paragraphs in a readable fashion) and proofread for consistency.  Finally, I added images to help break up the text and improve reader experience.

Creating content can definitely be daunting at first. The key is dedicating time daily,a even if it is only 5-10 minutes, to work on your craft, develop a consistent schedule, implement chunking or breaking up tasks throughout the day, reassess your goals often. Learn to love the process of creating content as this will help you greatly in achieving your end goals!

Content is King

If you need engaging content for your website to improve traffic and boost your brand please send me a link to your website in the comments below along with any questions you have about content creation. I will randomly select three comments to set-up a free content creation consult call!  The deadline for comments to be included in the drawing is November 15th.

Thank you for sharing!

An Exercise to Develop Better EQ—Empathy Broadens Our Perspective

By Keith Little

Replace “God” and the pronouns in these sentences for subjects (health, physics, grace, certain definitions, psychology, communication, cultures, character, language, etc.) and different people as you are led to think these questions over based on situational things you are facing. Whether or not you are a Christian this is a good exercise to understand where we all sit in regards to truth, love, empathy, grace, and maturity.

Objective vs. Subjective Truth

  • Is God subjective, or based on what I currently know?
  • Does God change based on what I think of Him?
  • Does God change based on how I feel or perceive Him as good or bad?
  • Does God change even if I choose to ignore Him or what he says?
  • Does God change even if I believe He does not exist?
  • Is it me who is under God, or God who is under me?
  • Does God bless me through things of the earth, or beyond this life through by what I do with what I know?
  • Can I truly know if someone else is following God correctly, and is it necessary to?

Different Paths (Vocations) Towards Holiness

  • Is my path different with God based on what is in front of me?
  • Will someone else have the same experience with God based on them being on a different path with Him, or being uniquely gifted and facing unique challenges?
  • Is it good for me to force how I see someone’s path with God is, and what good can come from it?
  • If I wanted someone to talk to me about God, when they may believe they may believe God is evil and people who believe in Him are evil, how would I want to be approached?
  • Has it ever been received well by me or anyone I know, when someone seeks to leverage that I agree with how they see God or else?

Be Open to Seeking Truth Daily

  • Can it be at times, that even the experts on God, will make mistakes or still need to learn more?
  • Does calling someone who seeks to do their best before God a hypocrite because they are also struggling, really helpful? Have I never struggled with God, even as I may learn something new about Him I did not before?
  • If there were situational reasons that I was not able to obey God as I would have liked to, (such as go to church for a time because you had unique pressures that needed you attention), is it right to be upset at myself or for others to of me for perhaps not being able to do so?
  • If people don’t know of God and how knowing Him is so great for us, does getting upset that others don’t know Him or don’t desire to learn about Him help them or us in any way? Is loving people despite where they are at with God, more effective when people are wanting to talk to someone about Him?
  • Do people need to agree with how I see God before I will love them?
  • Am I only willing to forgive people who are willing to change as I believe they should before God as I see Him?
  • Isn’t it wise for me to put a boundary up for myself, when someone or something is hindering my relationship with God?

Divine Truth is Revealed Gradually

  • If the person I go to to learn about God in my life, is working through something with God in their own, does that mean that they could not be a creditable source of information? Am I a creditable source of information on my own expertise, even though I may never know everything about it?
  • Is God something that we should expect people to know all about right away, or do we all need time to learn more as we go through life?
  • If I only care about my neighbor when I see them following God as I believe they should, how can I expect them to care for me when I may not follow God as they believe I should?
  • Is God what is most important in my life?
  • If I died tomorrow, would what I see as God be the most important thing to leave those who I have shared God with, and is there surety that God will be eternal?

Remove the Log from Your Eye First

  • Will people speak poorly about God because I chose to say that you should not care about people who do not see God the same way I do?
  • If someone is mad about a situation and blame God, is it that they are truly mad at me if I get in the cross-hairs of having that past situation placed upon me with them now?
  • If someone is angry or upset about how they see God, is it more effective to speak directly to them about the situation, love them through it, ask questions to help them figure it out on their own, or justify ignoring them?
  • If someone is angry about how they blame God for x,y,z, in their life, does seeking a way to justify to yourself and others in ignoring those people truly helpful? Would I desire similar treatment given the reversed roles? Is it not better to simply accept that I may not reach them or be gifted to do so?

Be Consistent in Our Actions and Faith

  • Do I treat my relationship with God as I believe others should given the situation?
  • Do I believe that if I ignore God, that God will not eventually come back to haunt me?
  • Has there ever been a time in my life where I did not know God as well, or need grace?
  • Is it more effective to be as God would have us and love each other, or cast judgment on how others are not being effective for God?
  • If others are not doing well with God now, does casting judgment on them help them focus on the problem or the solution?
  • If given the choice, would I seek to have a good relationship with God and see Him as beneficial to mankind? Are those who have a relationship with God now perfect people, or are they more optimal?
  • Is it possible to be a perfect person according to God or me? Do I hold myself to that same standard? Is it reasonable to hold anyone to it or do we all need grace?
  • Is it ever possible that I can be wrong in how I see God now?

Our View is Limited

A man can display perfect love and maturity and will never have perfect wisdom or insight. We can never see beyond our own two eyes and know what we cannot.

Always be mindful of who you believe God is, and how you might justify expecting perfection from people you disagree with or don’t like, and asking for grace for yourself and those you do like or know better. None of us are perfect people in this world, and never could be.


Keith Little is an auto-didactic learner with a type of eidetic memory, which God has used overtime to reveal to him that Jesus as the Unified Field Theory. Keith uses this in the following capacities: Predictive Analysis, Due Diligence, Intelligence, Investigation, Strategy, Reverse Engineering, Research, Risk Analysis. Learn more about Keith, read past articles, and follow Biblical Principles for Growth online: https://www.biblicalprinciplesforgrowth.org
Thank you for sharing!

3 Ways You Can Actually Get Rest through Play

According to Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” This weekend I found a temporary fountain of youth—at a pumpkin patch!  Celebrating the birthdays of two of my nieces and my daughter, we visited a small-town Nebraskan pumpkin patch on Saturday.  This experience was what I needed to infuse live into me.

Rest and play

My overnight work schedule has been challenging.  Getting naps throughout the day are hit or miss depending on how fussy or not my teething 8 month old daughter is on a a particular day. Balancing work and life has like trying to battle 16 monkey ninjas on your own. Our three year old has regressed over the past few weeks, meltdowns are on the rise, I only get to see my wife about 30 minutes most days, and the list of struggles goes on and on.

The purpose of this post is not to complain, but rather give a bit of context as to why my content has been irregular recently. I am thankfully for people providing guest posts in the midst of my chaotic schedule. I will be publishing more guest posts to help give me a break during this season. Rest. I did not appreciate sleep until I lacked it. This post will focus on a few ways I have been able to discover how to get rest during a grueling schedule. If you are in a similar or more serious situation than my family I hope you find value in these tips.

Play and Positivity

A common factoid you may have learned in school is that it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown. If you never heard this amazing fact, please check out the link in the related resources section at the end of this post to read about the science behind smiling. This weekend I smiled.

Traveling on a zip line, sliding down the barn slide, pedaling a cart, and chasing my kids on the pumpkin patch playground incited smiles. We need playtime help reset our mindset. Going into work on Monday I was much more motivated and cheery. Playtime leads to positivity.

Observational Play is Still Fun

According to Angela Schwindt, “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” During the breaks between pumpkin patch activities I got the chance to watch my children caper with their cousins. The joy and excitement in their faces caused me to beam with gratitude. I rarely have the opportunity to simply rest and observe them in the middle of play.

Overcoming from a recent sinus infection and my continual job hunt for work from home opportunities has drained much of my energy the past few weeks. This weekend provided me the chance to pause and have fun watching my kids play!

Recapping the Day is Restful

Another way to fit in play during a busy schedule is to reflect on the revelry throughout the day. We had a three hour drive back home so I spent some time replaying the fun our family had in my mind. Next, my wife and I talked about our favorite moments. I asked each of my children which activity they enjoyed the best. “Pumpkin, I have a pumpkin daddy!” my three year old exclaimed from his car seat. Looking back, I saw a wide grin on his face and the orange vegetable proudly held in his hand.

Pumpkin Patch

Memory gave me the ability to play again while sitting down in the car. As I recapped the day, I regained my energy that was completely drained during the week.

Make it a priority to get daily playtime. It is necessary for a healthy body and mind. Play renewed my endurance. Rediscover joy in life by embracing playtime. A work and life balance is important. How do you plan on resting and playing this week?

Thank you for sharing!

Living Out Your Purpose—Transform the World!

Catherine of Siena Set World on Fire

 

 

 

 

 

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on 🔥.” —St. Catherine of Siena

🔥 You are valuable. Unique. One of a kind. Think about the gifts you have. How can you help others? Those less fortunate than you. Less privileged.

🔥Life is 100% about love. Natural fire destroys. The supernatural fire of divine love transforms.

🔥Catherine did not have the pedigree of a princess or the formal education of a professor.

🔥Her impact on the world and 14th century was because she embraced her role— persistence toward truth and justice. She called out the greed of popes! To me that is the definition of heroism.

🔥St. Catherine has become a major influence in my life. Her writings inspire and give me hope. I consider her my mentor, a best friend, and spiritual sister.

🔥Embrace Love humbly and truthfully. The result will be an amazing transformation and impact. Love now!

Thank you for sharing!