Sunday, December 18, 2011

Taking a break from the E Lounge

Hi All, Classes ended last week. I'm going to spend the next few weeks trying to finish editing a book manuscript. So, I'm going to take a break from the ELounge so I can focus on that project and getting ready for the spring semester.

If you are on break -- have a wonderful and restful time. If you are working on a dissertation or something else that has you busy over break, I hope you are productive and that you also get some down time.

See you in January!

Photo by HLS
Bear by AK

Monday, December 12, 2011

End of semester stress

Take a deep breath.

Slow down for a moment.

You can do it.

Cheering you on,

Photo by HLS

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Saturday Morning Video - Headphones

Hi All,

Posting a little early. Here's a cool video to give you a quick study break:

All the best!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dealing with Frustration

Yes, that is my bottle of gatorade -- trapped in the vending machine.

Earlier this semester, on my way to class one night, I stopped at the vending machine to get a drink, slipped my money into the machine, selected gatorade and then watched as the bottle was dropped from the shelf and then promptly got wedged against the front of the machine -- stuck there. I knocked my fist against the plastic, as hard a a non-tenured faculty member can without creating a stir, and then realized, that bottle wasn't going anywhere. I didn't have any more correct change and so, no red sports drink for me that night. I did the next best thing which was to take out my iPhone and snap some photos. Otherwise though, it reminded me of other, higher-tech frustrations. This can be that time of year when a computer glitch can be even more frustrating than usual. So:

1. Be sure you are backing up your work. You should be backing up your work, period, either with a cloud back up or external hard drive (I do both). If you aren't backing up your work: then email documents and projects to yourself, so that you'll have them in your email if something goes wrong with your computer. Email each version, don't wait until you are done (in case something goes wrong mid-project).

2. Step away from the computer if you get frustrated. When you get frustrated, you don't think as clearly and are more likely to make a mistake (such as failing to save something, overlooking something in the project, etc). If your computer freezes, or something otherwise isn't working, take a break and calm down.

3. Find the humor. One of my former students somehow managed to get a jump drive stuck in her printer -- breaking both the drive and the printer! She was quickly able to laugh about how crazy that was and we still laugh about it today. Laughing at the moment allowed her to keep her stress level down and keep working.

Deep breath. You can do it!

Photo by HLS

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Work habits and structures -- try to stick with what works

This time of year, when life sometimes gets extra hectic, we may abandon the work habits that are good for us and simply hustle to get everything done. I get that, and in some ways, it can be a useful strategy. For one, you might be having to fit school work in between many other family and work commitments.

As much as possible though, I encourage you to stick with work habits and structures that you know are effective. If you need a work space that is quiet, then take a few extra minutes to seek that out. If you work best early in the morning, try to continue to carve out time for school work in the early a.m. Taking that extra time or making that extra effort to work in ways and spaces that you know work well for you, may make you more efficient in the long run.

Cheering you on in your work!

Photo by Asif Akbar, via Stock.xchng

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Encouragement from my dad

Hi All, My dad recently sent me a few photos that he wanted to contribute to The Encouragement Lounge. So, as you get back to work after the holiday weekend, know that my dad is cheering you on too!

All the best,

Photo by JBS

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving week!

Hi All, For some, this week will bring at least a bit of a break. For those of you who are working on a thesis or dissertation, maybe not so much. Anyway, here's a video to give you a smile.

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you'll know that I post this one every year around this time... it makes me smile, what can I say.

All the best!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Remembering Susan -- words of inspiration and hope

Hello. Tonight I am reposting a blog entry from last year. This week marks the anniversary of the passing of Dr. Susan Nelson, an important scholar and a former neighbor and friend. Shortly after she passed away last November, I posted the following:

Hi All,

The following is a sermon given by my friend and former neighbor The Rev. Susan Nelson. Susan and her husband Dave were our dear neighbors for many years here in Pittsburgh, before they moved to California where Susan became the dean of the Claremont School of Theology. Susan passed away from brain cancer earlier this month. Her daughter Kathryn recently shared the following, a welcome address that Susan gave to her students last fall at CST. Susan's words are full of perspective, hope, and encouragement and I'm delighted to share this with you.

Dear students,

I am glad to welcome you

To what I expect will be an exciting

And challenging

Year at Claremont School of Theology.

When I began my journey

Into theological education,

The word “career”

Had not crossed my lips.

I entered my first program, rather,

As a seeker.

I loved to read and muse

And I wanted an opportunity

To think about the meaning of life

And to grow

In wisdom and knowledge

I knew that life is fragile,

But I had not yet learned

How to hold the brokenness of life

With the joy of discovery

That, broken or not

It was worth the journey.

I loved beauty,

But I had not learned that beauty is fleeting

And that finitude is part of what

Makes it so beautiful.

I yearned for loving relations,

And had yet to realize

All the ways in which

I could learn to avoid

The tension of face-to-face relations.

These learnings were critical

To my growth as a human being

And to what eventually became

My calling as teacher and administrator.

I expect that each of you

Is something of a seeker.

Curiosity and possibility

Have drawn you to this place

To this faculty and staff –

To the fellow students you will tussle with

And perhaps enjoy along the way.

I expect that you will not be the same person

When you leave CST

That you are right now.

I expect that you will know moments

When the works feels out of reach,

Your studies less than lustrous

And many other moments

When you will know the satisfaction

Of accomplishment

And the joy of doing something

Really well.

And I expect you will grow friendships

And learn an important lesson,

That mutual respect for all people

Is critical

For the flourishing of life.

May you thrive in your challenges at CST,

May you grow in appreciation

Of the privilege

Of learning

In a community of scholars

May you have stellar teachers and mentors,

May you find moments

When you are surprised by joy

Or struck by a beauty

That totally draws you in

Providing absolute distraction

And, may you risk companionship

And the messiness of life

In genuine community

A year ago,

Students asked me to consider

Giving a “last lecture” –

If I were invited

To give the final lecture of my life,

What would I say?

Since that time,

I’ve had to actually consider

“Last things”

And how to live

In a present reality

That seems so precarious.

What I would say if asked

To give that lecture on this day, is

Practice awareness,

Watch yourselves breathe, -

Every day find at least one thing to be thankful for

- Tell others what they mean to you -



And practice the discipline

Of taking nothing for granted –

Or perhaps, better said,

The discipline of forgiving yourselves

For all the ways

You will take life for granted

And receive it anyway.

Grace and peace

Be upon you.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How to get through a class that does not interest you

A student recently asked me for advice on this topic -- how to get through a class that doesn't interest you.

Five suggestions:

1. Figure out what you need to know. If you are taking a class that you aren't interested in, chances are you landed in that class for one of two reasons -- either it's a requirement or you needed an elective and this was the only one that fit your schedule. If the class is a requirement -- seems likely that there is something that you need to know as you move forward. So review the syllabus carefully and try to figure out what is important here and work hard on that material knowing it will matter later. Better yet, try to stay focused through the course and look for the connections -- how does this relate to what I need to know/want to do later both academically and professionally.

2. Connect the material to what you know. This will be more obvious if you are in a pre-professional program. For example if you have to take a leadership or ethics or organizational change class -- you will be able to connect it to your work experience, even if leadership or management isn't your field. If you are taking a humanities requirement or elective, this will be more difficult, but is still doable. Are there themes in the course that might serve as metaphors for challenges that you face in your daily life? Might this course help you understand the world just a little bit better?

3. Explain it to someone else. Talking through the material will push you to engage with it and make more sense of it.

4. Grade challenge. I'm not a big fan of this approach, but it works for some. If none of the above suggestions help you engage, then give yourself a grade goal and work hard to meet it.

5. Post-class or post-assignment rewards. Set small goals and rewards such as upon completion of the week's reading, you take a walk, or after handing in a paper you go to a movie.

I hope these suggestions help. Cheering you on in your work.


Photo by HLS

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

The writing process -- sometimes it is dinner for two, and sometimes it's a wrestling match

My colleague Melanie Booth, host of the higher ed blog Prattlenog, has just published a post about a challenge she is having in her writing process. She is working on a chapter for a book and is having trouble with one particular paragraph. I invite you to read this post and get a glimpse of her process and how she views it.

I love:

* the respect she shows for the process itself

* the drive she has to "get it right" to clear up the one paragraph that she and others say isn't working

*and the humor she employs to persevere and not be defeated by this writing challenge

If you are working on your thesis or dissertation, read this, it will give you a boost:

Cheering you all (and Melanie and Polly) on in your work!


photo by HLS

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Editing/proofreading tip - Begin in the middle

I've been doing a lot of editing recently. One strategy that I have found to be tremendously helpful is this... at least once when you are editing/proofreading, begin reading the paper in the middle. Read to the end and then go back to the beginning and read the first half of the paper. You are likely to catch some things in the second half of the paper that you might miss otherwise.

Happy Reading!

photo by HLS

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Time and relationships -- when friends don't understand

A student recently asked for advice regarding how to maintain friendships while in graduate school. Here is a post from last year, that I hope will help:

I visited a grad class recently and asked for blog post ideas. A few students noted that they struggle with friends who are not in grad school and don't understand the associated time demands, thus pressuring them to get-together and so on. This can definitely add another layer of stress to the already challenging journey of graduate school.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Send a note to all of your friends and set a boundary. A very close friend of mine in my PhD program sent an email to all of her friends explaining that for the next few years, she would be making school her priority, asking them to understand that when she turned down their invitations, her decision was about her focus on school and not a comment on their friendship.

2. Plan a get-together after the semester. Again, tell your friends that during the semester, your focus is school, but that you'd love to see them when you are on break. Having a get-together planned shows your friends that you value the connection and allows you to feel better about not seeing them while you are busy with school.

3. Find new friends. I don't mean for that to be as harsh as it sounds. I'm all for doing the work to keep old friends (and I mean this - I'm not encouraging you to ditch your old friends!). I'm really suggesting that you find a new friend or two as well. Developing a strong friendship with at least one person in your grad program will, I believe, make your journey richer and less stressful -- having someone who "gets it" and knows the players and is engaged in the same work will be a tremendous source of support.

4. Believe in yourself. When those around you don't understand, remind yourself why you decided to go back to school. Remind yourself of your goals and dreams and know in your heart that you can do this.

Cheering you on!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Stress management - ask for help with one thing

You are now well into the semester and I imagine you are feeling the pressure of competing demands. You are trying to keep up with work, school work, and quite possibly family. If you have a partner and/or kids, have you asked for help? If not, ask for help with one of the things you are currently doing -- laundry, cooking, after-meal clean-up, If you don't think that will work, perhaps a smaller request -- perhaps you can ask for help during particularly stressful times of the semester -- when big papers are due, or big exams are near.

Has anyone had any success with getting family to pitch in?

Cheering you on in your work.

photo by HLS

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stay on track -- even when others don't get you

Hi All,

I know that some of you have doubters in your life -- folks who don't get why you are back in school. Maybe they don't value education or maybe it's about their own insecurities or un-pursued dreams. Regardless, you made this decision with intention -- nobody goes back to school without thoughtful consideration and I'm sure you were no different. So, when those around you express doubt, or question that you are in school, or make little sarcastic comments, hold on to what you know in your core -- you are doing this for good reasons.

In addition, be sure to connect with people who "get it". Whether it's classmates or faculty in your program, or other friends or family, keep in touch and keep talking with people who will support you in this endeavor.

Any thoughts? Who has been supportive for you?

Cheering you on in your work,

Photo by HLS

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Improve your writing -- it will enhance your grad school journey

If you have just started your grad school journey and you either know that your writing isn't as strong as it could be, or you are getting that feedback from your professors, then I strongly encourage you to seek help from your writing center. Work closely with a writing specialist and learn what you need to learn to clean up your writing.

Even if you aren't just beginning, but are in the midst of your program, you will still benefit from taking some time to improve in this area.

Being able to write with greater command will make you a more confident student. And, better--written papers will serve you well with your faculty. So take the time, get the help, and improve your writing.

Cheering you on!

Photo by HLS

Friday, September 23, 2011

Saturday morning video -- Alphabet 2

Hi All, Posting a little early... here's some weekend fun, take a break for a smile before you begin your work.

Cheering you on,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cool Tools -- 12 Great Apps/Sites for Grad and Adult Students

Hi All, Here are twelve apps/websites that I find particularly helpful:


Eyejot -- video mail. I love this -- more personal and connecting than email! Free version lets you send messages of up to one minute.

Doodle -- Easy scheduling tool, excellent for group work. Free.

Citation and source management:

Zotero -- organize your research sources, create groups to share information, and drag and drop sources to build your reference list. New plug in to expedite in-text citations and ref list. Free.


Cacoo -- This a a diagramming tool (mind-maps, site maps, and other visual models) -- easy to use and offers a variety of useful icons. There is also a share tool. Free basic version available.

Document management:

Dropbox -- I was a late-comer to this, but now use it frequently. Dropbox lets you store and share files in the cloud. I use it to share files that are too big to email. Others use it so they can access their files from any computer. Free.

Yousendit -- another cloud-based service for sending and sharing large files. Free version available.

Social bookmarking:

Diigo -- excellent tool for organizing and archiving web pages. Also has annotation tools (highlighting and sticky notes). Additional cool feature is groups which allows you to easily share web pages. Free.

Note taking:

Evernote -- An excellent note-taking tool. I love that I can access my notes from any of my devices (cloud based) and that I can use tags (makes it much easier to find specific notes later). Free.


Prattlenog -- Written by my wonderful colleague Melanie Booth, this blog provides insight and inspiration for adult students. Melanie is a voracious reader and a deep thinker -- get her blog on your reader or bookmark and visit frequently.

APA Style Blog -- No secret that I find this blog very helpful, I link to it frequently. This blog is written by a team of experts who help us understand the ins and outs of APA style. Another one that is on my google reader.

Images (excellent for presentation slides, etc):

stock.xchng -- stock photo site with vast library of free images

The Noun Project -- web-based collection of symbols, all downloads free

Please write or comment below and share other apps and sites that help you to be more productive! All the best,


P.S. I have no affiliation with any of these sites.

Photo by HLS

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday morning video -- 1000 Guitars

Hi All,

Here is your Saturday Morning Video -- bringing you a little cheer before you start your work!

All the best,

Friday, September 16, 2011

APA 101 -- woo hoo!!!

For those who are new to APA or who want a refresher, the good folks over at the APA blog have just posted a number of terrific introductory (or refresher) resources:

Cheering you on in your work!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saturday morning video (a day early) -- Freddie Mercury tribute

In case you missed this on Google this week, they posted it in honor of Freddie's bday. If you are a Queen fan, it will give you a smile:

Good luck with the work this weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Great teachers -- find one, or thank one, today

Great teachers help us see our strengths and our intellectual gifts. Great teachers also help us discover and pursue our growth areas.

Today, I was fortunate to learn yet again from one of my great teachers, a great mentor! I dedicate this post to you, Elizabeth.

If you have a teacher who has helped you see your strengths and helped you grow, forward this post to say -- thank you.

If you haven't had this kind of teacher yet, keep looking and make the effort to connect.

Cheering you on in your work!

Photo by HLS

Monday, September 5, 2011

Advice for new students -- be open

Submitted by Tera McIntosh:

Be open to new ideas and lenses. True learning occurs through in-classroom dialogue---so be sure to share your authentic self so that you can continue to grow professionally and personally.

“Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.” ~Mark Twain

Thanks Tera!

Tera is a 2009 alum of Carlow's Master's of Professional Leadership program and is currently a doctoral student in Antioch University's Leadership and Change program.

Photo by HLS

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