Tools for a Happy 2016 – Planning for Productivity

You may have heard of the Passion Planner, a tool developed by Angelia Trinidad and launched via a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $700,000. My daughter was really excited about the planner and will be using it for 2016.

I, on the other hand, have been supporting Chris Bailey in his “A Year of Productivity” project, which has morphed into A Life of Productivity. Chris’ articles about what he’s been learning about productivity during his dedicated immersion in the subject are wonderful to read, and he seems to be just a really great guy. He was even pretty zen when I told him his logo makes me think of chicken:

Brain Sprout

One of Chris’ coolest insights, in my opinion, is that true productivity occurs when energy, time, and attention are focused on the goal. In retrospect, he found that a large percentage of his posts dealt with energy, time, or attention.


Inspired by my own 50+ years of learning and nearly as many years trying to find a planner I liked, here’s an excel-based planner you’re free to use, if it suits you. Continue reading

Don’t Feed the Outrage Bears


I think it’s vitally important to consider the sources of our information about the world. Where we get our information can prime us to react in different ways. Here’s an example that floated across my Facebook feed. The headline was, “This law California just passed may signal the END of our Republic.” The person who posted it commented, “Did California really just pass a law turning high school into the ultimate participation trophy?” Here’s the link:

Photo Nov 14, 7 21 10 AM (1)

The very first thing I did when I saw this article, is that I did two Google searches: (1) When did California implement its High School exit exam, and (2) How many states have High School exit exams? Turns out, California passed a law in 2004 requiring high school students to pass an exit exam before graduating. Further, many states don’t have exit exams for High School, including Utah and Idaho, and never have.

In 2015, after observing the effects of their exit exam for 10 years, the California legislature thinks that it may not have been the best idea, so they are repealing the requirement. Were they right in 2004, or are they right in 2015? *I don’t know.* It doesn’t matter for my comments here. My point is this: the exit exam didn’t exist in California before 2004, but suddenly, it’s the *end of our Republic* if it doesn’t exist after 2015. That is ridiculous. That is the rhetoric that is destroying civil discourse in our nation. That is the rhetoric that’s keeping us from examining issues from every angle, from have cool and collected minds as we respond to policy decisions made by our leaders. This is what is dividing our nation.

Should High Schools have exit exams? I don’t know. I would have reservations were they to implement one in my state. And I am a conservative/ (former)Republican /libertarian sort of guy. So it’s not crazy to oppose such a requirement for graduating High School — at least, I don’t think it is. Standardized testing has always been a controversial, contested issue, by people on all sides of our ideological divides. But yet, according to this article, it spells the end of our Republic that California is revisiting and questioning the requirement which was implemented only 10 years ago. But notice that the article doesn’t include that information. The author acts as if the requirement had always been in place until now, that California is undoing centuries of civil tradition.

The fact that the exam was only implemented 10 years ago, and that many states don’t even have such an exam, seems like extremely relevant information *regardless of where you stand on the issue.* So either the author was woefully ignorant and incompetent in his reporting (by neglecting to look up and report such a crucial piece of information), or willfully deceptive in his writing. In either scenario, why would you ever go back to this site for news again? If a source has been demonstrated to be either incompetent or deceptive in such a dramatic way, why would you trust them again? (Also, this particular site is a repeat offender many times over.)

Here’s my challenge to you:

  1. If you get your news from sources like this, STOP. Just stop. If you’ve been deceived in the past, that’s fine. But don’t go back again, otherwise, you weren’t just fooled, you are just being foolish. These sorts of polemic sources — whether liberal or conservative — do nothing good for you, except lead you to live in a state of perpetual outrage, and often at shadows (in this case). Don’t share such articles.
  2. When you read such an article, don’t reflexively go into outrage mode. Go and *look up* the issues being discussed. Find other, more credible sources. Ask the relevant questions (In this case, When was the law first passed that is being repealed? What does it actually say? What are the reasons given by those who support it? Do other states have similar requirements? etc., etc.)”

Unto the Least of These

[Cross-posted from Deliberate Discipleship] My dad was born in 1920 – during a time when people didn’t lock their doors and it was safe to stop and help a stranger. He also was given such a good heart that he always wanted to help those in need. He would frequently stop for the hitchhiker, help those stranded on the side of the road and pray for those he couldn’t help.

Today is a different world. It isn’t safe to stop for hitchhikers any more. I worry about the safety of my family and myself if I were to stop. Most people these days have cell phones, so is there really a need to stop and help someone who is stranded with a disabled car? Could I even help with my lack of automobile knowledge?

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Mother with chronic pain booked in Utah for using medical marijuana

Enedina Stanger is a Utah mother of two who suffers from a rare genetic disease called Ehlers-Dalos Syndrome (EDS). This fatal disease caused her bones to move out of her joints, causing constant, excruciating pain. She is wheelchair-bound.

Here is how she describes the pain she is in:

(The pain) is excruciating! I hurt all of the time. I have to try and smile, otherwise I’d be crying all of the time.

I call this my “concentration camp.” I realize that sounds drastic, but I’ve studied history and identify with Man’s Search for Meaning and other people who have experienced horrible things. My body is my concentration camp. My joints are the SS guards. At any second, they’re going to turn on me, and I have to be able to brutally take it, pop them back in, and keep on going.

She has tried many opiate-based medicines to help with the pain, but they all have side effects and often do not work. The only drug that helps her get through the day and act as a mother to her kids is marijuana.

On October 1 she was using medical marijuana in a car by herself in a Wal Mart parking lot. She was there because she has to sell her house to pay her medical bills, and the Realtor was showing the house. She was given a citation, and today she was booked by the Weber County Sheriff’s Department.

Because of cases like Stanger’s and others in Utah, the legislature is considering laws that would allow patients to use medical marijuana. I would like to add my voice of support to legalizing medical marijuana in Utah to help people like Enedina Stanger.

I have had discussions with many friends who oppose marijuana legalization, and I can see their arguments and understand them and even agree with many points they make. The best point against legalization is that it normalizes a drug that is bad for you and more people will likely smoke marijuana if it is legal. I think this is true.

But remember: Utah is not considering fully legalizing marijuana, it is considering making it available for people with chronic pain. I cannot see any reasonable arguments against legalizing medical marijuana. Most people have no problem with addictive, harmful opiates being legal and available through prescription. Then why not another drug that is less expensive and in many cases more effective?

You can read more about Enedina Stanger at her blog here.

Introducing Kathy P.

M* is pleased to welcome Kathy P. as our newest blogger.

Kathy is a mother to five beautiful children. She is married to her highschool sweetheart and living in beautiful Colorado. Kathy graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Family Sciences from Brigham Young University. In her free time, Kathy loves to write, sew, and dabble in photography.

Welcome to M*, Kathy!