5 Things To Do To Get Ready for Christmas

Heaven High!

Can you believe it? Christmas is less than five days away! Where did December go? Are you ready for the big day? If you’re like me, you’re probably in “panic-mode”.

Sit back.

Take a DEEEEeeeeeeep breath.

Think about the spirit of Christmas.

One of the ways that I make sure to get everything done is by making a list (and yes, I check it twice – a day). I usually start my list in October. I try to shop all year long as well, so that Christmas shopping won’t be such a hassle come December. Check out these other organization and preparation ideas to help make your Christmas a little easier.

#1) Plastic Sacks Stuffed In the Back of the Closet

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Sort stocking stuffers in the plastic grocery bags and hang them on hangers in the back of your closet. This will help you avoid all that fumbling in the dark when it comes time to sneak those presents into their respective stockings.

#2) Pre-Assemble Toys

In my family, it is usually a family tradition for the men in the family to gather around all of the “Some Assembly Required” toys and try to fit Tab A into Slot B on Christmas morning. However for some of you the kids may be a touch impatient and will want to play with their toys as soon as they open it.

Since Christmas is three days away, now is a great time for you to start assembling toys. Send the kids to play outside or send them to a friends’ house so that you can unbox toys, assemble them, then re-box them (if possible).

#3) Assign a “Battery Elf”

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Someone always brings a gift that will need batteries. It is inevitable. Assign the task of “battery elf” to one of the family members coming to the house. Or assign a type of battery to each family member so that they can bring one package of each to the Christmas party. If you don’t end up using that size battery, it is always helpful to have extra packs sitting in the fridge at all times.

#4) Make Christmas Special with Activities

When it comes to Christmas day, there are two types of families (Note: I am overgeneralizing here.). There is the family that dresses in their finest and heads to two or three different houses – that would be us this year. Then there is the family that wakes up early on Christmas morning and runs downstairs in their pajamas to open presents. They spend the rest of the day in their pj’s, playing with toys and shiny new gadgets.

I propose another type. I’ve always loved going out to my extended families’ houses because it means that I got to spend the day with family, chatting and having a good time. However, there is no reason why you can’t mesh the two by staying home with your immediate family, opening presents, and doing fun Christmas activities that bring you closer together. What kinds of activities?

  • Make dinner together (or at least bring the family together to make dessert)
  • Go caroling
  • Make gingerbread houses or bake Christmas cookies to give to neighbors
  • Create your own Christmas traditions
  • Read your favorite Christmas stories together
  • Watch holiday movies

#5) Get a Head Start on Your New Year’s Resolution

There is no reason why you shouldn’t start your New Year’s Resolutions early. Get a head start! Stay motivated! I’m going to help you by giving you my book, ACTING FOR REAL, for FREE. No matter your resolution, there is something in Acting for Real that will help you achieve your goals: personal or professional.

 

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Be A More Confident Public Speaker

Heaven High and Happy Friday!

Since it is Friday, I didn’t want to overload you with a lot of technical information. After all, most of us are winding down so that we can enjoy our weekends.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a video about overcoming your presentation hang-ups. The delivery is somewhat comic but can be trying at times, however the information is important. It’s only about four minutes long so watch it during your lunch break.

You can find the worksheet that they talk about in the video here.

Did you watch the video? The information may seem basic but all three steps are a great FIRST STEP to overcoming your hangups. Now that you’ve watched that, go ahead and grab a FREE COPY of my book, Acting for Real! It will be a great start to your weekend!

 B BOP!

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5 Great Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Christmas

It is officially eight days until Christmas which means that there are seven shopping days left until you run out of time and you have to start re-gifting the ugly Christmas sweaters from the attic. If you’re looking for some unique last minutes gifts, I’ve got a handful here that you can buy from the convenience of your own home.

Make sure to note that we are not affiliated with any of these products. They simply caught my eye as unique, innovative, and/or funny.

#1) Portion Perfect

Portion Perfect
Image by: Portion Perfect

Portion Perfect is great for any loved one who is adamant about losing some weight for his or her New Year’s Resolution next year. Show your support by gifting this great gift.

I’m big into bento boxes anyway. This one is unique because everything is pre-portioned for you. All you have to do is fill each reservoir with the appropriate item: protein, healthy grains, fruits, vegetable, and healthy fats. It even comes with a free lunch ideas app!

#2) KeySmart

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Image by: KeySmart

KeySmart is a great tool to help keep your keys organized. If you’re like me, you’ve got a ton of keys on your keychain (I could give any janitor a run for his money).

The concept here is simple. Just like a Swiss Army Knife, your keys fold into the device (it is held in by screws). When you need access to a specific key, you just pull it out, use it, and then slide it back in its place.

Before you jump on the KeySmart bandwagon, make sure to check out the various reviews.

#3) Sriracha To Go

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Image by: Sriracha2Go

Sriracha2Go is perfect for the Sriracha-lover of your life. This handy bottle comes with a D-ring clip so that you can keep a little refillable bottle of Sriracha with you wherever you go. It’s pretty simple and convenient. According to their website you can,

“Simply fill your empty S2G bottle with your favorite Sriracha and clip it to your keychain, slide it in your pocket, or toss it in your purse — you’re now set to add Sriracha to your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between.”

#4) Clippa- Mini Tools Clip

Clippa
Image by: Clippa- Mini Tools Clip

The Clippa- Mini Tools Clip is a great stocking stuffer for your favorite girl.

The only part of this that I’m a little weary of is the cutting edge. While it would not sit right next to your scalp, I am curious to see if it might accidently cut a few strands of hair on accident. However, the reviews were all great. Just note that the actual clip is a little on the large side (so that it can be as useful as it is practical).

#5) Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods
Image by: Uncommon Goods

If you don’t really know what you’re looking for and you just want to be pointed in the direction of a great place for unique gifts, have I got a surprise for you. The gifts found here are unique and creative without being immature or crass.

I ran across the Uncommon Goods website a few years ago and I absolutely love it. There are a bunch of great gift ideas if you’re looking for a gift that will stand out from the crowd. A lot of their products are both unique and handmade. They also have vendors who sell goods made out of recycled products.

Their Christmas page is a great place to start because it is divided into sections. You can shop by type of product, price range, or your recipient.

#6) Acting For Real

If you want a creative and practical gift for a loved one, why not grab a FREE COPY of my book, Acting for Real?

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Productive Planning Strategies for Success

Today I wanted to talk about planning and time management. I just purchased my “planner” for next year. Yes, I am (again) the owner of an old school, pen and paper planner.

In fact, it is the “Passion Planner”. You may have seen the Kickstarter for it. It is a fantastic tool (and no, I am not being paid to say this). As an entrepreneur, I am excited to put it to good use next year. I’m already putting in projects, conference dates, and planning my work days.

#1) Happiness, Productivity, and Time Management

How does happiness relate to productivity?
–31% higher productivity
–37% higher sales
–Creativity 3 times higher.

Happiness at Work survey, Nic Marks, NEF (new economics foundation, London) 2012

Happiness, productivity, and effective time management are all linked. If you’re not being productive at work and if you are not managing your time well, you will be more stressed. The more stressed you are, the less healthy and happy you are as well.

When you are frustrated at the amount of time that you have to spend scheduling your work week or if you don’t want to pick out a planner for 2015, remember these statistics. When you schedule your time well, you will be happy. When you are happy, you are more productive.

#2) Scheduled Work Time

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70% of employees work beyond scheduled time and on weekends; more than half cited “self-imposed pressure” as the reason.
Society for Human Resource Management, Spring 2009

It may seem silly to schedule work time but it is necessary. Block out the times that you are supposed to be working and make sure that you stick to that schedule. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself by working too hard. It is healthy to turn off that “work-mode” switch when you get home.

I suggest planning some “downtime” right after work. You can listen to an audio book on your drive home or you can switch gears by working on a hobby.

#3) Scheduling Sleep Time

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Sleep deprivation is now costing U.S. companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity. Exhaustion makes employees less efficient, even in the time it takes to read email. They are also more irritable and more likely to explode.
Harvard Medical School, 2013

As a society, America doesn’t sleep enough. We work hard and we play hard but we don’t relax enough. When people are seen relaxing, others may assume that they are being “lazy”. That is the main reason why I can’t sit still. I always feel as though I need to be productive. I’ve learned that switching gears

#4) Do I Need a Planner If I Work From Home?

About 10% of the workforce (13.4 million people) work from home at least some of the time. What are the disadvantages of working from home?
–59% – Children or family demanding attention
–43% – Difficulty concentrating on work issues
–39% – Children, family, or pets disturbing phone calls
–32% – No access to office equipment

Regus survey, 2012

I have a short answer for this question and a long answer. The short answer is… *clears throat*

YESSS!!!!

I have worked from home for about a year and have found that I need to schedule my work hours and post them on my office door. Sometimes it gets so bad that I have to leave (and work at a nearby café).

They know me by name there.

I have a “regular” – as in, “Hey! You want the regular today?”

I love my family dearly but there are times when I have to get away. Scheduling my time while I am at work helps to keep the distractions at bay.

#5) Paper or Plastic?

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According to Medical Daily, a study was held that concluded that “using pen and paper, not laptops, to take notes boosts memory and the ability to retain and understand concepts.” Medical Daily calls the concept (of typing your notes) as “mindless processing”. This is important notes for students but it can be useful for everyone.

I’ve bounced around from digital planners (PDA’s, smartphones, Google Calendars, etc.) to “old school” pen and paper planners and have found that when I am able to write things down by hand, I have a tendency of remembering them. There is something special that happens when we actually write things down.

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Friday Funnies!

Heaven High and Happy Friday!

Since the weekend is coming up, I wanted to help you end your workweek with a smile. You may be hesitant to speak in front of others for one reason or another but even mistakes can end with a smile on your face. I was doing some research and happened upon these stories from flight attendant and author Betty N. Thesky. She’s written a book called, “Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase” which is full of hilarious in-flight anecdotes that she has collected throughout the years. These snippets (from that book) are fantastic. I found them on genardmethod.com:

 

 

 

…AND MORE FROM THE FRIENDLY SKIES…

 

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A few years ago there was a flight approaching Glasgow airport in Scotland. The captain was on the speaker and the announcement went something like: “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. We have just started our approach to Glasgow and will be landing in about 20 minutes and . . .OH MY GOD!!!”. . . The mic suddenly went dead. There was complete silence in the passenger cabin. A few minutes later the announcement continued: “Hello again ladies and gentlemen. Sorry about that. Just as I was speaking to you, the stewardess was handing me a cup of coffee which spilled into my lap. You should see the front of my trousers!” A voice piped up from one of the passengers: “That’s nothing! You should see the back of mine!”

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It was a long, late flight from New York to Los Angeles. A lot of the passengers were sleeping, so when I made an announcement that we were serving snacks, I spoke quietly into the PA mic so I wouldn’t disturb everyone. I said we had peanuts, cheese and crackers, granola bars, and Biscoff cookies. I then started serving, but when I reached one lady and asked her what she wanted, I had to burst out laughing when she said, “What the heck–I’d like to try some of your pissed-off cookies!”

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I flew a regular route with a regular crew to Salt Lake City that always took us right over the top of the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming. The Captain would always point out the mountain range to the passengers as we flew over. One day the co-pilot said to the Captain that the next time we flew over the Tetons, he should tell the passengers where the name of the mountain range originated. The Captain said he wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole. I asked him why not, and he said it was far too risky. I said that was ridiculous, and it was nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, so he invited me to make the announcement when we went over the Tetons. So I did.

I picked up the mike and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now passing over the Grand Teton Mountain range of Wyoming. These 14,000-foot-tall mountains were first explored by French fur trappers who gave them their name. They must have been lonely for female companionship, because ‘teton’ is the French word for ‘breast’, so Grand Tetons actually means ‘big breasts’. However, it must have been quite a long while since they’d seen a woman, because, as you can see, there are three major peaks in the Teton range!” I then hung up the mic. Within seconds, every flight attendant was crowding the cockpit saying, “We can’t believe you just said that!” I began to worry I’d get in trouble after all, and I asked if the passengers were offended. “Are you kidding?” they said. “The plane is full of French Canadians! They loved it!”

By Betty N. Thesky (Author of Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase: Hilarious Stories of Air Travel by the World’s Favorite Flight Attendant)

If you’re looking for another book that will put a smile on your face while you’re learning skills for becoming a better businessperson and public speaker, why not get a FREE COPY of my book, Acting for Real? All you have to do is click on that big, beautiful, green button below.

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Speech, Debate, and Drama

The fear of public speaking (glossophobia) can occur at any time of someone’s life. Elementary pageants and high school debate clubs can really help students get used to standing in front of people and talking (or singing). Sometimes the best thing that a glossophobic can do is face that fear.

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Schools all around the globe offer these opportunities to their students in various forms. For example, last month Holyrood Academy hosted a public speaking competition.

The Western Gazette reported that “The seniors prize went to Katrina Gunn-Lane, Addison Coath and Sarah McCullough for their speech on annoying siblings, while the group of Ruby Nex, Lorelei Webber and Rachel Webber impressed the judges with their argument against sexism in schools and took first place in the intermediate section.”

If your student seems to be struggling with presentations or if he or she is incredibly shy, why not try to help her overcome her social and/or speech anxiety by encouraging her to enroll in a debate club or drama class?

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Up until I was a senior in high school, I absolutely hated standing in front of people. I still get nervous when I have to give a presentation. However, I don’t fret as much as I used to because – I was accidentally enrolled in a drama class for my senior year of high school. When I saw it on my schedule, I was petrified. I couldn’t memorize any lines – and standing up in front of people? Might as well just have me stand in front of a firing squad.

But when I found myself in the class, the teacher taught me tricks to help me get over my anxiety and concentrate on my strengths which helped me overcome most of my weaknesses. For example, I know that my voice isn’t the strongest so we came up with visual ways that I could get the class’s attention while I worked on my projection.

Drama, speech, and debate may be the worst fear for your students’ (or perhaps your) school career. However, once the initial shock wears off, it can be a great tool that will teach them skills for their future.

Looking for a stocking stuffer for the debater, speaker, or professional in your life? Why not grab a FREE COPY of my book, “Acting for Real”? It’s a steal! And all you have to do is press that beautiful, green button down below.

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3 Ways to Hone Your Skills & Become AWESOME!

By Joy Bernardo

Heaven High!

Today, I’ll be talking about honing your craft, skills, and/or passion. If you’ve liked us on Facebook, you’ve probably already seen today’s motivational post about who and how talented individuals hone their skills. Well, I want to expand on that topic by giving you more specific details and tips on how YOU can be better at your trade skills, talents, and passions.

While researching tips for how to hone your talents, I found that most tips found in books and in articles focus specifically on artists. However, those tips can be applied almost any other hobby, craft, or skill as well.

 

#1) Creative Compass’ Toolbox

 

Creative Compass is a Cleveland-based company that is dedicated to helping artists hone their crafts. Being a writer, I consider myself an artist too. Public speaking can be considered a form of performance art as well. Just like spoken word poetry, there needs to be a flow and a performance to your speeches. When you can make your speech resonate with your audience – that’s when you know that you’re being effective.

 

Calluses mean that you are working hard and loving it!

Calluses mean that you are working hard and loving it!

 

Creative Compass says that there are a few basic items that every artist should have in their “toolbox” – figuratively and literally. These tools can be used to help with marketing, networking, funding, or focusing your work:

an effective artist statement
documentation of your art work to create high-quality work samples
opportunities to share your artistic process and artwork (on social media or elsewhere)
professional development opportunities (networking, learning, and teaching)
public presentations
artist colonies (or artist in residence opportunities)

 

#2) Your Style Will Evolve with the Times

 

*tap tap tap tap* Write more!

*tap tap tap tap* Write more!

 

If you are constantly honing your craft by reading books, articles, trying new techniques, watching YouTube videos, or even branching out into different subgenres – you will only get better. You can’t regress if you are working on getting better and refining your skills.

The Red Lemon Club suggests that,

“The more time you dedicate to developing your craft, the more you will learn about what you are capable of.”

In fact, after you are done reading this post, head on over to their article entitled, 15 Reasons to Stay Focused on Developing Your Craft. Alex Mathers (the author of the piece) did a wonderful job inspiring me to work harder.

 

#3) Learn Universal Skills (In Addition to Your Focused Learning)

 

Learn with your brain and your heart.

Learn with your brain and your heart.

 

Learning about your trade, craft, skill, or passion can be an extremely focused discipline. It’s like having tunnel vision with the end goal (proficiency and expertise) being the light at the other end. However, learning should never be so disciplined. Learning about other topics can aid in developing your imagination, innovation, and can help break the boundaries in your chosen field.

I have already come to terms with the fact that I will be a forever student (and that is a badge that I will proudly wear for the rest of my life). I am not a professional student, nor am I enrolled in any college (I’ve already graduated with a couple of degrees). However, that doesn’t mean that I will stop learning.

I love to learning about how I can become a better writer. I also love learning about other disciplines because it helps me in my writing. In my spare time I write horror stories. However, I don’t just read Stephen King and Joe Hill. My bookshelves are filled with books from hundreds of genres: from romance to mysteries, to speculative, to academics.

One book that I have on my shelf, and that I recommend to everyone is Thom’s book, Acting for Real. It has helped me both break out of my shell and look inward to examine my personality and traits. Lucky you, though! He’s giving it away for free! Check out the details by clicking on that big, beautiful, green button below.

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Megan Washington: Why I Live In Mortal Dread of Public Speaking

Heaven high!

How are you on this fabulous Friday? How are you celebrating the holidays?

Today I wanted to share this video with you. It’s an honest and inspiring speech from Australian singing sensation, Megan Washington. In it, she talks about her problem and how she has “gotten over” her fear of public speaking. Check it out here:

If you want some more inspiration? Why not grab a FREE COPY of my book, ACTING FOR REAL! All you have to do is click on that beautiful, green button down below.

Have a great weekend and B BOP!

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Treat Social Anxiety With This Simple Trick

Image by: Lexie Lannom

Heaven High! How is your week going? Do you know what today is? Yes, it’s hump day – the midpoint of the week! We’re halfway there! Just power through the rest of the week and you will be rewarded with the weekend.

For today’s blog post I have an easy tip to aid you in overcoming your social anxiety. If you are afraid of having to do a presentation in front of people, I suggest that you round up a group of people (anyone) and read something to them.

It doesn’t have to be the same type of people that you will be presenting to either. The point of this exercise is to get used to being in front of people. To get started, I suggest that you take your favorite children’s book and read it to a group of kids at your local library. Easy peasy, right?

Make sure to read the book a few times through before you read in front of the kids. If you can, I suggest that you set up a time with the library to regularly read to kids. As you continue to read to them, think about your pacing. Are you letting the kids understand the words that you are reading? Are you pausing too long? Practice your pacing with the kids.

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Image by: US Navy

Not only will you be practicing your pacing, pronunciation, tone, pitch, and presence, you will also be helping kids develop a love for reading.

Want another helpful tip for overcoming your social anxiety? Grab a FREE copy of my book, ACTING FOR REAL. Yep, you can get a free copy of my book. All you have to do is click that beautiful, green button below.

Have a fantastic Wednesday, everyone! Keep being awesome! B BOP!

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Prince Henry Reveals Glossophobia for Fear No Shame

Do you have a fear of public speaking? Well, you’re not alone. Not only is glossophobia (AKA speech anxiety or a fear of speaking in general) one of the most common phobias in the world, but you also share this phobia with Britain’s Prince Henry.

He recently revealed his public speaking anxiety while making a speech for the Feel No Shame campaign – a campaign whose aim is to reduce “the stigma associated with HIV” – for World AIDS Day today.

“My secret is,” he explained. “Believe it or not, I get incredibly nervous before public speaking, no matter how big the crowd or audience is. And despite the fact hat I laugh and joke all the time, I get incredibly nervous if not anxious, actually, before going into rooms full of people when I’m wearing a suit.”

The Feel No Shame campaign aims to help with tolerance and understanding for millions of people who are suffering from HIV throughout the world. Prince Henry was one of many celebrities and famous people who revealed an intimate secret in an act of solidarity on this day of awareness.

If you’re looking to join in, check out the #FeelNoShame on Twitter and tweet about your glossophobia. Don’t forget to share the knowledge and fly your red ribbons for World AIDS Day today!

If you’re like Prince Henry and you suffer from glossophobia, why not get some FREE assistance by grabbing a copy of my book, Acting for Real. All you have to do is click on that gorgeous, green button below to get your free copy.

B BOP!

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