One day a professor asked his students to prepare for a surprise extra credit test he said he would be emailing them at home. The class was surprised because the summer session was almost over, and final grades were already pretty well established.
That evening, each student received a photograph of a large yellow canvas with one gray dot painted in the middle, along with instructions to write an essay on the painting.
When the professor received the answers back, all of the students with no exceptions described the gray dot, trying to explain its position, the contrast, and so on. After reading all the answers, the professor sent a follow-up email out to all the students:
“I am not going to grade you on this test; I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the yellow section of the canvas. Everyone focused on the gray dot and the same happens in our lives. We have a whole canvas in front of us, but we are so busy focusing on the dark spot in the middle. Life is a special gift with different layers: friends, livelihood, love, family, and the miracles we see every day.
I want you all to realize the dark spots in our lives are just one thing on a very large, bright personal canvas.
Take your eyes away from the apparent spots in your life and enjoy each one of your blessings and each moment that life gives you.
I wish you the best!”
~ Elisa McNinch
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Save Your Eyes
August is Cataract Awareness Month, and that is a good time for everyone to get acquainted with the dangers that a cataract can pose. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. Because the lens focuses light onto your retina, any blockage or distortion can result in diminished eyesight.
Cataracts develop gradually and usually (but not always) in older people. Congenital defects, inflammation, exposure to certain kinds of radiation, diabetes, and smoking can also contribute to cataract formation earlier in a person’s life.
The standard treatment is surgery to dissolve the clouded lens and then remove the fragments from the eye; doctors then insert an artificial lens to replace the old one. Because cataracts develop slowly and without pain, symptoms may not be obvious.
Check with your eye doctor if you start to notice these changes in your vision:
- Vision that is cloudy, blurry or
- More difficulty seeing at
- Heightened sensitivity to
- Seeing halos around
- Colors seem faded, or
- Double vision in one
Take care of your peepers!
This Month’s Recipe: Browned Butter Blondies from Land O’Lakes
These are delicious, moist, & chewy bar cookies that the entire family will enjoy. If you don’t like white chocolate chips, trade out for dark chocolate. Simple & easy recipe. “Browning the butter gives these blondies a rich, nutty flavor.”
Did you know?
Birds and reptiles have a nictitating membrane in their eyes that functions as a third eyelid. It’s called the plica semilunaris, and apparently humans have them, too. It isn’t entirely useless, though; it still helps to drain tears and remove foreign objects from the eye.
A World of Help
August has some pretty amazing holidays dedicated to animals all over the world. Here are a few worth celebrating, internationally and here at home.
International Assistance Dog Week, August 2 – 8
International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations. According to the IADW website, International Assistance Dog Week was established due to the efforts of Marcie Davis, a paraplegic for over 35 years and the author of Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook.
International Homeless Animals Day, August 15
Every year on the third Saturday in August, International Homeless Animals Day celebrates taking care of our pets and spreading awareness of pet overpopulation. Consider volunteering or helping to sponsor a spay and neuter clinic, adopt-a-thon or microchip clinics in your neighborhood.
World Elephant Day, Wednesday August 12
Launched in 2012 to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants, World Elephant Day asks you to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face. Worldelephantday.com has some great information on supporting better protection for wild elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving elephant habitats, better treatment for captive elephants and, when appropriate, reintroducing captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries.
“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.” – Henry Miller
Shifting Into Night Work
Most of us aren’t used to working all night, but with many of us working from home, chances are your schedule has changed. Here are some strategies to get into the groove of working a night shift:
- Manage your sleep during the day— not just how long, but how
- Get rid of all distractions, especially the
- Try to sleep at the same time every
- Keep sleeping temperature about 68
- Use earplugs to keep noise at You can also muffle intrusive sounds with a fan or “white noise” machine.
- Accept changes in your schedule. Don’t try to maintain your normal routine; keep social events and family outings at times that fit your new work schedule
- Eat light at night and get extra servings of fruits and veggies, cereal, pasta and
Enjoy Your Workday
Do you often feel as if your workday will never end? An article on the Market-Watch website offers a simple technique for feeling more energized and engaged, and getting more done.
It’s called “reattachment to work,” and it can take many forms. You might start your day by talking with your spouse or partner about what you’re going to do today, or cycling through your to-do list first thing in the morning, or giving yourself three concrete goals to accomplish as soon as you get to work.
This kind of planning can jump-start your brain and help you focus on activities and goals that make your day go faster. It will give you a feeling of energy and engagement that can make work feel more satisfying throughout the day.
Master These ASAP
These acronyms aren’t new, but they are worth revisiting:
ALF (Always Listen First): Used in training sessions and counseling, this is simply a polite thing to do.
BRAN (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Nothing): Useful for deciding on a proposed course of action in business. What are the benefits, potential risks, and alternative courses of action?
GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, Will): Often used in life coaching sessions, these are factors involved in self-improvement.
IDEA (Identify, Design, Execute, Augment): A planning strategy to first identify the relevant issues, then design a course of action, execute the plan, and adjust or add to it as necessary.
Frame Your Goals
Deciding what you want is an important first step toward success— personal or professional. But it’s not enough to simply know your goal. You’ve got to know how you’re going to achieve it.
Frame your goals in terms of tasks and performance, not just outcomes. What actions do you need to take, today and tomorrow and in the future to get closer to your objective?
Assign specific tasks to yourself, knowing how you’ll measure the outcome of each activity does more than bring you closer to your goal. It gives you a sense of control over what happens to you. You’re not just wishing for success, but working steadily toward it. Regular accomplishments will keep you motivated and moving forward.
Success is about failure. At least, it’s about learning how to fail without letting it stop you from moving forward.
As personal and business coach Jane Herman writes: “You have heard the expression, ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing well.’ Here’s your new motto: ‘Anything worth doing is worth being willing to do badly.’
If something is important to you, then you have got to be willing to try it, even knowing that you may fail. If you have the attitude that you can’t do something unless you can do it well or perfectly, then you will never take a step. Be willing to take the step.”
DIY: How To Build A Pergola Arbor
Summers in Texas can be a scorcher, and most of us look for some way to escape from the heat. Covered patios, pergolas, and sunshades are a great way to accomplish just that. However, have you considered building a pergola arbor? Take a look at this great idea from DoItYourself.com.
Keep Your Bestie Cool
Summer is a time for both you and your pet to enjoy the sunshine and outdoors. But along with the fun, the season also offers situations that can endanger your pet.
The Humane Society of the United States offers these guidelines for pet owners to keep their furry friends safe this summer:
Never leave your pet in the car!
During warm weather, the inside of your car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if you’re parked in the shade. Pets who are left in hot cars, even briefly, can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage, and can even die. Don’t think that just because you’ll be gone “just a minute” that your pet will be safe while you’re gone.
Practice water wisdom.
Always supervise a pet in a pool. Provide plenty of water and shade for your pets while they’re enjoying the great outdoors so they can stay cool.
If you can’t stand the heat…
On hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Hot asphalt can burn your pet’s paws. Pets can get sunburned, too, and your pet may require sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips.
Your pet can suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The signs of heat stress include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.
If your pet does become overheated, move him into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water over his body. Let your pet drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. If necessary, get him to a veterinarian immediately.
June & July 2020 Trivia Answer
Question: There are two flowers associated with June – name one of them.
Answer: Rose and Honeysuckle
Congratulations to Neil Foreman! Your name was randomly selected from all of the correct entries. You won a $50 gift card to one of the following: Amazon.com, Academy, Target, Khol’s, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, HEB grocery, Willie’s Icehouse, OR Pappas restaurants. Your choice!
August 2020 Trivia Question
Question: What famous car was first produced in 1908?
Everyone who contacts Elisa via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (832-746-7911) with the correct answer by August 20th will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to one of the following: Amazon.com, Academy, Target, Khol’s, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, HEB grocery, Willie’s Icehouse, OR Pappas restaurants. Your choice!