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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Top 10 Made-for-TV Christmas Movies

It's that time of year, made-for-TV Christmas movie time! I truly don't know what my fa la la la la  fascination is with these shows? I mean in some of the made-for-TV-movies the story lines are so obvious and the acting is downright campy; no matter, the shows always seem to put a smile on my face.

You're wondering where to watch these holiday TV movies? Now through Christmas they're easy to happen upon; you can find the movies on a myriad of cable and satellite channels. I'd check your local listings for times. In some cases, you can even watch them on-demand at Internet streaming media outlets too. 

I know there's a cult following for these budget holiday shows. This time of year, my dearest friends and relatives constantly find ourselves always talking about our favorites. Anyone online can't help but notice the made-for-TV Christmas hype too. In this social media age hashtags are a flutter everywhere with made-for-TV holiday titles. 

population-we™ readers, join me as I rank my Top 10 favorite made-for-TV Christmas movies according to cable networks, on-demand media and genres below:

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Drama
Plot Summary: "Christmas Incorporated" (2015) Mistaken identity, Scrooge-like behavior by a CEO, a toy factory threatened to close in small Americana town and romance rounds out this Hallmark original.
Actors: Shenae Grimes, Steve Lund.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Romance
Plot Summary: "Ice Sculpture Christmas" (2015) Romance is in the Christmas air for a dishwasher and inspiring chef who enters an ice sculpting contest with someone from her past.
Actors: Rachel Boston, Brenda Strong.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Drama
Plot Summary: "The Christmas Parade" (2014) A TV personality escapes a scandal when she gets stuck in a small town for community service and falls for an artist as well as tries to save a local community arts center. 
Actors: AnnaLyn McCord, Jefferson Brown, Drew Scott, Jennifer Gibson.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Romance
Plot Summary:  "A Holiday Engagement" (2011) dumped by her fiancé she may or may not find true love when she hires an actor to pose as her fiancé for the holidays.
Actors: Bonnie Somerville, Shelley Long, Jordan Bridges.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Romance
Plot Summary: "Christmas Under Wraps" (2014) After moving to Alaska for a fellowship this doctor finds romance and falls for this small remote town that also hides a Christmas secret.
Actors: Candace Cameron Bure, David O'Donnell, Robert Pine 

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Romance
Plot Summary: "Crown for Christmas" (2015) A governess from Brooklyn wins over the hearts of a little princess, the Monarch's staff and the king himself.
Actors: Danica McKellar, Rupert Jones.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Fantasy
Plot Summary: "North Pole: Open for Christmas" (2015) An elf and handyman try to persuade a woman executive to keep an inn she inherited, which is crucial to Christmas, open for business.
Actors: Lori Laughlin, Balee Madison, Dermot Mulroney.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Comedy
Plot Summary: "I'm Not Ready for Christmas" (2015) Holly's world is turned upside down when her niece asks Santa to make her tell the truth and the shenanigans at work and her personal life begin.
Actors: Alicia Witt, George Stults,  Dan Lauria,  Brigid Brannagh.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Family
Plot Summary: "Help for the Holidays" (2012) One of Sant's elves leaves the North Pole to help bring a family together over Christmas.
Actors: Summer Glau, Eva La Rue, Dan Gauthier, John Brotherton.

Network: Netflix
Genre: Family
Plot Summary:  "Christmas in Paradise" (2007) follows two families looking to escape bad holiday memories by vacationing over Christmas at a Caribbean resort. In the process, both families come together and learn some Puerto Rican culture as well as the magical Christmas story of the three kings.
Actors: Charlotte Ross, Colin Ferguson, Devon Werkheiser.

I guarantee, nothing makes the holiday stress melt away faster than watching made-for-TV holiday movies. So, merry made-for-TV Christmas movie watching!

(Editor's note: Plans are to make this an annual listing. So, remember to check back again the same time next year!)

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Go Green for Greenlight A Vet This Veterans Day

There is a different way to honor our veterans this Veterans Day and it's as easy as changing a light bulb. 
The Brown's Greenlight A Vet.

According to the organizer's website: "The simple action of changing one light to green is intended to spark a national conversation regarding the recognition of veterans, and 'greenlight' them forward as valued members of our communities."

Brian and I have joined the campaign and switched out our exterior flood light with a green light. We decided to join Greenlight A Vet and shine a light on our neighbors, family, friends and veterans we've never met who have served. We're using our blog as a platform to share The Brown's support by taking a picture of our green light and posting it here (see the picture at right). You don't have to be a blogger; Greenlight A Vet, encourages everybody to share a picture or video of your green light on social media with the hashtag: #greenlightavet. Lastly you can take it further--keep it glowing every day as a symbol of support as well as appreciation for our veterans. 

Learn more about this Veteran's Day campaign by visiting the Greenlight A Vet website.

Go green and join The Brown's in shining a light on America's veterans this Veterans Day!

-population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Royals Unfinished Business

I noticed during the season that the 2015 Kansas City Royals were parallels from the the past of one of my other sports passions the University of Nebraska football team. The 1994 Huskers had made "Unfinished Business" their mantra after ending their previous season in a close loss to Florida State in a controversy laden bowl game. Ned Yost has mentioned the Royals feel the same after coming so close reaching game seven of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants.

The 1994 Huskers went on to an undefeated season while winning the first of three national championships over a four year span. The Royals have responded this season by dominating from the start while winning the American League Central with the best record in the American League. Returning to the World Series was a major next step.

Now four wins are needed against the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series to finish their business.

(Editor's note: Kansas City Royals fans follow population-we™ (pop-we) contributor John Bohan as he blogs about the Royals playoff journey at Baseball Me Love. This article originally appeared in an Oct. 24th Baseball Me Love blog post.)

-population-we™ blog post by John Bohan
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It's a Small Scuba World

It is hard to believe how many times scuba diving finds it way into conversations in a landlocked state like Nebraska. Every year our town is the site of the NCCA Men's College World Series and we always get accolades from announcers and fans on how friendly Omahan's are. Recently, I chatted it up with a teller at my bank. Pepper and I were on a mission to make our car and credit card payment. No doubtedly, the credit card payment was paying off one of our epic scuba diving trips too. During polite conversation, the teller asked how my week was going? I responded that it is Tuesday and tonight we are attending a going away party for someone moving to Las Vegas. He commented that he'd like to live there--so he can rock climb more. I told him I'd like to live somewhere for my scuba diving hobby, too.
Nebraska's Sandy Channel.


He flashed a great big grin back at me and told me he learned to scuba dive when he was 10 for a family vacation. He exclaimed he wanted to open a scuba shop some day but admittedly said--but not around here! He went on to tell me that he took a scuba diving class years later while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). While at UNL, he passed and earned his open water certification. He said a short time after everyone from class went on a trip to somewhere in Western Nebraska but his parent's refused to pay. He commented being a poor college student, he just couldn't afford it. I told him we recently travelled to that Western Nebraska location, Sandy Channel, and enjoyed it immensely. I mentioned where we dove the visibility was great and we found a sunken plane and boat. Read about our Sandy Channel divecation: The Training Fins are Off, at Scuba Diver Life.

This brief encounter reminds me; whether, you've gone diving last week or have been on a scuba diving sabbatical, keep the dive light burning and always keep dreaming of diving!

-population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Monday, October 5, 2015

KC Royals Playoffs Bound 2015

The Kansas City (KC) Royals are headed to the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs for the second year in a row. This year is even sweeter as they are the 2015 American League (AL) Central champs rather than a wild card. That guarantees at least three games rather than the one game play in the wild card teams have to gut out.

The offense is much better this season with Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas taking their games to the next level. Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon had steady seasons even with Gordon being derailed by the DL. Kendrys Morales was a huge upgrade to Billy Butler. Alcides Escobar, Jarod Dyson and Omar Infante have fallen off from last year but the pick up of Ben Zobrist helped make up for the last one.

The pitching staff had an identity crisis after James Shields headed west as it left a vacuum for an ace. Yordano Ventura started off rocky but answered the wake up call after his yo-yo ride to the minors. Jeremy Guthrie could not repeat his unheralded performance from last year and was extremely hittable. Edinson Volquez proved to be a good pick up and challenged to be the ace but sputtered down the stretch. Danny Duffy never found the dominance he had before his 2014 injury. Kris Medlen on the other hand has been solid since returning from his elbow injury that had sidelined him with the Braves for all of 2014. Johnny Cueto has people shouting bust rather than being the ace he was rented to be. The bullpen has been nearly as stellar but the elbow of Greg Holland finally gave out after one too many heart attack performances. That bumps the capable Wade Davis to be closer, Kelvin Herrera to the 8th and Ryan Madson to the 7th. Herrera has been struggling over the past 30 plus and that is troubling.

As hot as the Royals were in the 2014 playoffs they have been the opposite down the final stretch to close out 2015. After racing out to such a big lead in the AL Central they have started to run out of gas with a 10-17 September. That has allowed the red hot Toronto Blue Jays to edge past with the best record in the American League. Only a handful of games through Sunday with home field advantage at stake. Unless the Royals get hot and the Blue Jays falter it will be the Royals and Texas Rangers in the divisional series. That may be the more favorable match up to get their confidence and mojo back on track.

(Editor's note: Kansas City Royals fans follow population-we™ (pop-we) contributor John Bohan as he blogs about the KC Royals playoff journey at Baseball Me Love. This article originally appeared in an Sept. 30th Baseball Me Love blog post.)

-population-we™ blog post by John Bohan
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Nebraska City Welcomes AppleJack Festival and More

Harvest time in Nebraska City, NE is the time for the annual AppleJack Festival where apples will be on center stage from Sept. 18-20.

The city where Arbor Day traces its history honors its heritage while providing all the elements for an old-fashioned family friendly celebration. Union Orchard reports, “AppleJack is an amazing time. People come out to enjoy the country and get farm goodies. We have music and orchard tours. We are still working on the restoration, so things look different to our customers who come out once a year. We have added a large event pavilion and several picnic areas throughout the property.”

My friend Gwen Johnson had the opportunity to visit Union Orchard. She said, “It (is) really beautiful out there and it really nice to close to nature, picking apples, going into the little market seeing all the different ways you could use apples. Some were strange and some were quite interesting. It was fun and very enjoyable experiencing God's creation.”

Main AppleJack Festival attraction. ~Beverly Newsam
A labor of love is taking place at Union Orchard as the Wostrel family works to restore the orchard dating back to 1885. Since the family purchased the farm in 2011, they have planted over 6,000 trees and 2,000 vines. They have about 5,000 more trees to plant before we are through with the restoration. The type of trees they are planting start producing fruit in three years and are disease resistant.

In reply to my question about the varieties and the availability of the apples that they grow, Union Orchard said, “We have 19 varieties of desert apples. They are planted by maturity time. Zestar starts in mid-August and Arkansas Black matures around Halloween. Because of this, we always have something fresh and just off of the tree. Lots of common varieties like Gala, but some special ones like Honeycrisp and Candy Crisp too. We do have some heirlooms planted, but they are semi-dwarf and will start maturing in a few years. We are planting lots of apples to use in future hard cider. “

In addition to apples in their natural ready to sink your teeth into state, Union Orchard also has fresh pastries too including pies, donuts, turnovers, and apple cinnamon rolls--many of which are baked fresh on site. (Are you hungry yet?)

The orchard also grows grow strawberries, rhubarb, elderberries, pumpkins peaches, and cherries.

They are “working to make Union Orchard one of the finest fall entertainment venues around. It will take us a few more years, but we are committed and making it happen.”

My friend Beverly Newsam also filled me in on some of the festivities during AppleJack Festival. She visited Historic Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard and found it packed with people excited to purchase apples and goodies. The staff was very friendly and made people feel right at home according to her. She lists the produce and goodies that she stocked up on while there:” apples, apple pie, apple cinnamon syrup, and the famous (and delicious) apple doughnuts. We also bought cherry jubilee drink, peach salsa, boysenberry preserves, and blueberry jam. She said that the orchard staff worked hard to keep up with demand, which included a long line just for the doughnuts! She enjoyed the hayrack ride that took people to where they could pick their own apples. She added that there were vendors and children activities.

Popular apple doughnuts  ~Beverly Newsam
Beverly enjoyed the sensory pleasures of the day. She said, “My favorite season is fall, and it was such a beautiful, sunny day to walk through the orchard. Outside, vendors made and sold Kettle Corn, which smelled so delicious. Inside, it was easy to smell the apple doughnuts, which were made very regularly due to popularity.”

There are other important and must see stops in Nebraska City, NE. When I was in 8th grade, my class took a field trip to Nebraska City, NE to see some of the important historical sites. Nebraska’s first recognized nationally recognized Underground Railroad historical site was on our tour. We viewed the reenactment displays in John Brown’s cave.

Arbor Lodge was another highlight of the trip. Visiting John Brown’s Cabin and Arbor Lodge were also two of the tours on my mom’s field trip when she was in the 6th grade.

The sections of the 52 room mansion open to the public made quite an impression on me at age 13. I wish that I had a copy of my essay about the mansion that was chosen to be displayed in the room where I had English and Spelling that year.

Arbor Day Farm has 260 acres and is available for tours. There may be historical sites posers around the country, but this is this undeniable historical land. J. Sterling Morton started planting an orchard soon after arriving in Nebraska City, NE in 1855. He is the founder of Arbor Day and the tradition continues strong on the land that was donated to the state. Arbor Day, the day when people are encouraged to plant a tree, is always the last Friday of April, but can vary by state as to when it is observed.

I am impressed with the grass roots effort of concerned community leaders who now manage Arbor Day Foundation. From what I gather from a conversation with Susan Freshman, guest experience manager, Arbor Day Farm may have closed if it were not for the concerned citizens. The state still owns the land that was a gift from J. Morton Sterling in 1923. The Arbor Day Foundation, which is made up of concerned citizens, manages Arbor Day Farm. The state is funding the 1.5 million dollar renovation project underway at Arbor Lodge Farms.

For even more interactive history, there is still more to learn and explore at the Lewis and Clark Missouri River Visitors Center in Nebraska City.

As I am an aficionado of apples, I have rather enjoyed thinking about them often as I prepared to write about the AppleJack Festival and Nebraska City. Growing up, we purchased apples from a couple in Valley, NE who have since retired. Apple crisp and applesauce were two of my mom’s specialties. Can you smell the simmering or baking apples now? In recent years, I continued to eat apples but was so disappointed with store bought apples. They weren’t usually bad. They usually weren’t good either. Blandness from my first bite into the waxy peel to the last as I neared the core is what I found. I did a poll on social media asking people what their favorite varieties of apples were. Gala and Honeycrisp ranked high. When they were in season, I sampled my first Honeycrisp from an Nebraska orchard. Finally, I tasted an apple with flavor that I had been sorely missing. If there isn’t a word to describe the sound, taste, and sensation of biting into a crisp apple, there should be!

Nebraska City, NE is a great place to visit during Harvest Season or any season. Come for Yule celebrations during the holidays. Come in spring to see the trees lined with blossoms. Come enjoy the history of this part of the country.

-population-we blog post by Barb Bohan 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

One Year Anniversary of Robin Williams' Death

With the one year anniversary of  Actor and Comedian Extraordinaire Robin Williams this week, population-we™ (pop-we) decided to pause and revisit an archived post on depression and suicide. Read Barb Bohan's interview with the author of the book, who herself battled bipolar and suicidal tendencies, pop-we Contributor Reviews Dr. Deborah Serani's Book on Living with Depression.




Unlike the "Suicide Is Painless" song lyrics states--suicide is not painless. With Robin William's passing the apparent pain of his loss still is center stage as everybody mourns his death together over the airwaves and on social media a year later.

Please leave it. Suicide that is...because there's help out there!

Pick up a copy of Dr. Serani's book, Living With Depression; for free read her Psychology Today personal essay on Why I Mourn for Robin Williams or most importantly for immediate help call a United Way 2-1-1 help line in your area.

In short, it remains apparent after the one year anniversary of Robin Williams' death that suicide is always heart-wrenching painful for everybody left behind. #RIPRobinWilliams

(Editor's note: The M*A*S*H theme song, "Suicide is Painless," is courtesy of YouTube.)

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

pop-we Reviews Works of Author Mitali Perkins

Culture is a way of life. I recall students parroting back this simple definition to my grade school teacher during Social Studies class. Though my young mind had limited understanding of the phrase, I have always enjoyed learning about different cultures.

Yet, sometimes the view gained in Social Studies and History classes when studying cultures has more of a name the state flower and state bird feel rather than a real sense of the heart of a culture. I have found that one of the best ways to experience culture is through reading non-fiction and fiction narratives. Through the novels that I have drunk from over the years, I have gained a love of Orthodox Jews and Hasidic Jews. Books by different authors helped me understand a culture that bound young girl’s feet. I saw the segregated South through the eyes of a black girl in way that touched me more than any text book.


Mitali Perkins compiled a collection of fiction and non-fiction essays written by people of different cultures in “Open Mic Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices.” Teens are the target audience but I think it appeals a lot to adults too.

Perkins website and blog are an open and safe place to study cultures. She is the author of multi-cultural books for young readers including “Secret Keeper,” “First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover,” First Daughter: White House Rules,” “Rickshaw Girl,” “Sunita Sen,” “Monsoon Summer, ” “Tiger Boy” and “Bamboo People.” I think she has lived up to her name, which means “friendly.” Being friendly was an important tool for her as she was the “new girl” over and over in her youth. Perhaps she has such a broad perspective of cultures because lived in many lands. She was born in Calcutta, India and her parents continued to raise her in the strict Bengali way in each setting. Before being the “new girl” in seventh grade in a California, she had lived in Ghana, London, Cameroon, New Mexico, and New York. Following high school, she studied political science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. She has taught middle school, high school, and college. She is available for visits to schools and other events where she shares her views of growing up between cultures.

Sometimes what we need is more humor when looking ourselves and others. The good natured humor in this book edited by Perkins breaks down barriers. The essay by David Yoo titled “Becoming Henry Lee” made me laugh. The protagonist attempts to use cultural stereotypes about Asians to his advantage with amusing results.

The following are my fresh impressions of one of the essays: I just finished, “Viola!”  It was so endearing. If one were in the waiting room seeing a wrinkled elderly lady who didn't speak English, it would be easy to miss that she was a true gem. It was so personal and dear to go back to when the author was a child and their secret about magic. There is so much richness to that essay!

Perkins mostly non-fiction account of her crush in “Three Pointer” seemed quite universal to me as someone who has had her own boy crushes. It always gave a glimpse of her strict parents adhering to Bengali customs while raising the family in the USA.

As you get to know the characters of the various essays, you see how they defy stereotypes. In my schooling, I learned that there is a phenomenon with ingrained stereotypes. People can have numerous examples of exceptions to the stereotypes. And I mean a lot of examples. Then, one incident can fit a stereotype after scores of other examples that do not match a stereotype and people will focus on this incident as further proof that stereotypes are right.

Someone suggested that believing stereotypes is illogical when you look at how different people can be in the same family.

I know there is a lot of talk about the importance of tolerance when it comes to other cultures and religions. I think tolerance is what we need for those we love who surprise us in the best of ways at times but in between get on our nerves. Then, there is the need to just be civil around those certain people. We all probably know some of them in our community. Tolerance is for the who squeeze the middle of the tooth paste or leave their socks on the floor if we squeeze the end or believe all dirty clothes should immediately be placed in a proper hamper or thrown down a clothes chute. Yes, those are probably petty and silly examples. Yet, they represent the little things that can add up without a big heaping helping of tolerance. To me, culture of civilized groups is by and large the rich traditions that we want to pass down.

We may need tolerance when people unwittingly do offensive acts because norms vary between cultures such as looking directly into the eyes of the older generation of adults when that culture believe that to be impolite. But as a whole, culture is wisdom and bonds and not in need of tolerance.

As for religious beliefs, I do not know what there is to tolerate about people with religious texts of different faiths and various places of worship and rituals with the goal of becoming better people. Show me someone living the tenets of any of the world’s major religions and you are showing me a good neighbor. We may need tolerance when some of us our over-zealous in sharing our religions. Do not get me wrong, I believe that we can and should share our faith and invite others to learn more if they so desire. We should never force as a forced belief is not a real belief. Maybe there are other needs for tolerance when it comes to religion. I think we should generally substitute the word tolerance with respect for other religions. One of the greatest things about America is its foundation of religious freedom for all faiths as long as they do not violate the law.

I wish that I were connected with the cultures of my past generations. My maternal grandfather was a first generation American. His parents were both under 18 from what I understand when they came to America. I am told that the older children spoke some German. My grandpa was the second youngest of nine and spoke very little. There is so much I would love to learn about the German custom of his father and the German customs on my dad’s side of the family. I would love to learn more of the Dutch customs of his mother. The best we do is displaying wooden shoes, windmills, Dutch figurines. In spring we have several groupings of tulips drawing our minds back to Holland. I am grateful that through the study of my family that we have learned a lot about Irish ways but not nearly enough. At least, that is one of my ethnic groups with set day to celebrate being Irish and St. Patrick.

I believe it should be possible to be a good American in every sense of the word and also pass on the good customs of my heritage.

I believe that people from all ethnic backgrounds can learn from each other and also embrace their heritage by learning about the wonderful role models and customs of their people.

-population-we blog post by Barb Bohan 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shark Week Footage of Shark Feed Dive

This spring, Brian and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with a scuba diving divecation on a liveaboard in the Bahamas. Since our Blackbeard's shark feed dive, Shark Week is every day in our household. Why? Because we got to enjoy the majesty of these underwater creatures in their natural habitat.

To commemorate Shark Week, here's a video journal of The Brown's very first scuba diving shark feeding dive in the Bahamas! This Facebook video is filmed on a GoPro courtesy of our Blackbeard's Cruises' Divemaster Jason Russell-Smith and my Dive Buddy for the shark feed dive, Jocelyn Hunyadi. I'm wearing pink fins in the video and Brian is kneeling besides me. For Shark Week, here's Hunyadi's video journal of our shark feed dive in the Bahamas:


It's Shark Week! So, come on a Bahamas shark feeding dive via the Blackbeard's Cruises with us! Real scuba diving...
Posted by Population We on Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I was so moved by our scuba diving shark experience (I hope you are too) that I'm currently working on a story for my upcoming short story book. Until then, happy shark week and keep diving!
(Editor's note: You need to log into Facebook to view this video. If you enjoy the shark footage make sure to like it as well as our Facebook page.)

-population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Giving Your Condolences via Social Media

With the advent of social media one would think it would be easier to give condolences. This was tested recently when I had two dear friends whose parents passed away. Unlike years passed it wasn't from a phone call that alerted me to the news but via a Facebook post and a text message. Therefore, I felt responding with my condolences in the same manner was appropriate.

Social media has taken the awkwardness out of the condolences equation; however, unlike a phone call more thought goes into your messaging. Everybody who reads my blog knows I'm a wordsmith and tend to write a lot; however, in this medium when giving your condolences via a group message--I think short is more appropriate. I admit, I stared over my iPhone waiting for the right words to pour out of my fingers, but it took me a bit to find the words. Because of that fact, I decided to offer some advice on giving condolences via social media. Before hitting the publish or send button: 1) take a breath; 2) think out what message you really want to convey; and 3) keep it short.

Here's what I mustered up to say:
                      Text message for Skippy's dad.

Facebook message for Monica's dad.
Some population-we™ readers may not agree? You may think--I should've immediately picked up the phone and called. If so, feel free to comment below. No matter how you're reaching out to offer condolences it isn't easy but the gesture does not go unnoticed. I know in my heart of hearts, my condolences will be followed with a big hug next time I see both my dear friends. For now, because of my social media messages above, they both know I'm thinking of them during this very difficult time.

-population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's Camping Divecation Time

Yes, you read the headline right--it’s time for a Camping Divecation! No problem you can pack your scuba gear in your sleep but what if you are planning a sleepover. In this case, it isn’t at a hotel but in the great outdoors. If you prepare well ahead of time--you can sit back and enjoy the great outdoors without any regrets. Because what goes better together than scuba diving and a camping trip? Read on for a list on what will make your next camping divecation a success.
GOSCUBA members on a recent camping divecation.
  • Pop-Up Tent
  • Scuba Gear & Tanks
  • Diver Down Flag
  • Folding Chairs
  • Hangers for Scuba Gear
  • Tarp
  • Freshwater
  • Bottled water
  • Spray Bottle
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Fly Swatter
  • Scissors or Knife
  • Flashlights
  • Lanterns
  • Can Opener
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Food, Snacks & Beverages
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Matches or Lighter 
  • Firewood
  • Ax for Firewood
  • Pots & Pans
  • Pot Holder
  • Plates
  • Silverware
  • Cups
  • Paper or Kitchen Towels 
  • Dish Soap
  • Bucket or Pan to Wash Dishes In
  • Baking soda
  • Tent
  • Mat
  • Sleeping Bags 
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Clothing
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hand Sanitizes
  • Toilet Paper
  • Trash Bags
Greater Omaha SCUBA Club (GOSCUBA) gets permission beforehand to dive in the area Nebraska or Iowa lakes on all our camping divecations. We recommend you get permission too! Visit the campsite online and research before you head out. Also, call and ask about reservations and what amenities they have: bathrooms, showers, eatery as well as where boats are allowed? GOSCUBA tends to dive where boats are not; since, most Nebraska boaters aren't familiar with a Diver Down Flag. Firewood is on the list; however, take extra cash to buy at the campgrounds for the campfire grills--because we almost always run out!

I hope you will now be well prepared for your next sleepover in the great outdoors. If I forgot something, please leave a comment below. Happy Camping Divecation and keep diving!

-population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Monday, June 15, 2015

pop-we Highlights 2015 Men's College World Series Lineup

The 2015 College World Series will be played in Omaha, NE at Ameritrade Park from June 13 through June 23 or 24 if necessary. There are numerous reasons to be especially excited this year. The field of eight that made it to Omaha is stacked with traditional powers that have been made the trip before. 2014 Champion Vanderbilt returns and will try to repeat. The talent level showcased will be high with four of the top ten players selected in the 2015 MLB draft including the top two. Finally the redesigned baseball has produced more home runs nationwide this season but the test will be to see how they play at Ameritrade Park which has kept hitters in check the previous two years.

The first game Saturday has 40-23 Arkansas against 39-22 Virginia. Arkansas made their way to Omaha by dominating #8 seed Missouri State 18-4 in the first game, losing 3-1 in the second and clinching 3-2 in the super regional. Virginia claimed their super regional against Maryland sweeping 5-3 and 5-4.

The Arkansas Razorbacks are led by Head Coach Dave Van Horn. Their top eight hitters are Andrew Benintendi (.380), Carson Shaddy (.337), Tyler Spoon (.331), Rick Nomura (.294), Joe Serrano (.285), Clark Eagan (.284), Bobby Wernes (.280) and Michael Bernal (.280) with Benintendi leading the team with 19 home runs followed by Spoon with six. The team batting average is .289 and they average 6.0 runs a game. Their top three starting pitchers are Keaton McKinney (6-2, 3.27), Dominic Taccolini (6-4, 4.32) and James Teague (6-4, 3.36) with Zach Jackson being their main closer with nine saves. Their team ERA is 4.08 and they have given up 4.7 runs per game. In the 2015 MLB draft they had four players taken: Benintendi (Red Sox, 1st round), Trey Killian (Rockies, 9th), Wernes (Astros, 30th), and Spoon (Red Sox, 35th). This is their eighth CWS appearance and have not won the championship.

The Virginia Cavaliers are led by Head Coach Brian O'Connor. Their top eight hitters are Matt Thaiss (.332), Pavin Smith (.313), Robbie Coman (.301), Daniel Pinero (.300), Charlie Cody (.291), Kenny Towns (.298), Adam Haseley (.252) and Ernie Clement (.239) with Thaiss leading the team with nine home runs followed by Smith and Pinero with six. Their team batting average is .273 and they average 5.4 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Connor Jones (7-2, 2.96), Nathan Kirby (5-2, 2.28) and Brandon Waddell (3-5, 4.15) with Josh Sborz being their main closer with 14 saves. Their team ERA is 3.52 and they give up 4.2 runs per game. In the 2015 MLB draft they had seven players taken: Kirby (Brewers, 1st round), Sborz (Dodgers, 2nd), Joe McCarthy (Rays, 5th), Waddell (Pirates, 5th), John LaPrise (Blue Jays, 19th) Towns (Angels, 20th) and Pinero (Tigers, 36th). This is their fourth CWS appearance and have not won the championship.

The second game Saturday has 49-16 fourth seed Florida against 49-15 fifth seed Miami (FL). Florida already swept in state rival Florida State 13-5 and 11-4 in their super regional. Miami claimed their super regional against Cinderella Virginia Commonwealth 3-2 and 10-3.

The Florida Gators are led by Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan. Their top eight hitters are Josh Tobias (.373), Jeremy Vasquez (.350), JJ Schwarz (.332), Buddy Reed (.313), Ryan Larson (.305), Richie Martin (.292), Harrison Bader (.292) and Dalton Guthrie (.286) with Schwarz leading the team with 18 home runs followed by Bader with 15. Their team batting averge is .299 and they have averaged 6.9 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Logan Shore (9-6, 2.50), Dane Dunning (5-2, 3.95) and A.J. Puk (9-3, 3.96) with Taylor Lewis being their main closer with seven saves. Their team ERA is 3.22 and they have given up 3.6 runs per game. In the 2015 MLB draft they had nine players taken: Martin (Athletics, 1st round), Bader (Cardinals, 3rd), Eric Hanhold (Brewers, 6th), Daniel Young (Blue Jays, 8th), Lewis (Braves, 9th), Tobias (Phillies, 10th), Bobby Poyner (Red Sox, 14th), Michael Vinson (Tigers, 24th) and Aaron Rhodes (Angels, 28th). This is their ninth CWS appearance and have not won the championship.

The Miami Hurricanes are led by Head Coach Jim Morris. Their top eight hitters are George Iskenderian (.367), David Thompson (.333), Garrett Kennedy (.329), Johnny Ruiz (.318), Jacob Heyward (.313), Christopher Barr (.306), Brandon Lopez (.303) and Zack Collins (.303) with Thompson leading the team with 19 home runs followed by Collins with 15. Their team batting average is .311 while scoring 8.4 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Andrew Suarez (9-1, 2.96), Thomas Woodrey (7-2, 3.06) and Danny Garcia (7-1, 3.25) with Bryan Garcia being their main closer with 10 saves. Their team ERA is 3.02 and they give up 3.7 runs per game. In the 2015 MLB draft they had five players taken: Suarez (Giants, 2nd round), Thompson (Mets, 4th), Iskenderian (Brewers, 7th), Kennedy (Dodgers, 14th), and Ricky Eusebio (Mariners, 16th). This is their 24th CWS appearance and they won the title four times in 1982, 1985, 1999 and 2001.

The first game Sunday has 53-10 second seed LSU taking on 49-13 seventh seed TCU. LSU swept in state rival UL-Layayette in their super regional 4-3 and 6-3. TCU had an epic super regional against Texas A&M winning 13-4 in the first game, losing 2-1 in the second game in 10 innings and clinching 5-4 in a deciding 16 inning marathon.

The LSU Tigers are led by Head Coach Paul Mainieri. They feature the second player taken in the 2015 MLB draft shortstop Alex Bregman. Their top eight hitters are Andrew Stevenson (.356), Chris Chinea (.355), Kade Scivicque (.347), Conner Hale (.343), Mark Laird (.323), Bregman (.312), Chris Sciambra (.309) and Jake Fraley (.308) with Chinea leading the team with 11 home runs followed by Bregman with nine. The team batting average is .316 while scoring 7.0 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Alex Lange (11-0, 1.89), Jared Poche' (9-1, 2.91) and Jake Godfrey (7-1, 4.70) with Jesse Stallings being their main closer with 12 saves. Their team ERA is 2.84 and they gave up 3.5 runs per game. In the 2015 MLB draft they had eight players taken: Bregman (Astros, 1st round), Stevenson (Nationals, 2nd), Scivicque (Tigers, 4th), Jared Foster (Angels, 5th), Zac Person (Astros, 9th), Laird (Phillies, 9th), Hale (Mariners, 9th) and Chinea (Cardinals, 17th). This is their 17th CWS appearance and they won the title six times in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2009.

The Texas Christian Horned Frogs are led by Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle. Their top eight hitters are Cody Jones (.371), Connor Wanhanen (.320), Evan Williams (.316), Nolan Brown (.314), Derek Odell (.303), Evan Skoug (.286), Dane Steinhagen (.282) and Garrett Crain (.271) with Wanhanen leading the team with nine home runs followed by Jones, Skoug and Keaton Jones with six each. Their team batting average is .289 while scoring 6.0 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Preston Morrison (11-3, 2.55), Mitchell Traver (9-2, 1.60) and Alex Young (9-2, 2.31) with Riley Ferrell being their main closer with 14 saves. Their team ERA is 2.38 and they gave up 3.1 runs per game. In the 2015 MLB draft they had eight players taken: Young (Diamondbacks, 2nd round), Tyler Alexander (Tigers, 2nd), Ferrell (Astros, 3rd), Cody Jones (Royals, 6th), Morrison (Cubs, 8th), Trey Teakell (Tigers, 9th), Keaton Jones (Tigers, 15th) and Traver (Cardinals, 28th). This is their third CWS appearance and all since 2010.

The second game Sunday has 39-23 Cal State Fullerton taking on 47-19 Vanderbilt. Cal State Fullerton had to battle uphill in their super regional against third seed Louisville as they won 3-2 in 10 innings, lost 9-3 and clinched with an 11 inning 4-3 victory. Vanderbilt swept sixth seed Illinois 13-0 and 4-2 to advance to Omaha.

The Cal State Fullerton Titans are led by Head Coach Rick Vanderhook. Their top eight hitters are Josh Vargas (.340), Davi Olmedo-Barrera (.328), Jerrod Bravo (.312), Tyler Steib (.303), Josh Estill (.283), Dustin Vaught (.256), Tanner Pinkson (.254) and Scott Hurst (.250) with Olmedo-Barrera leading the team with 10 home runs followed by Estill with five. Their team batting average is .265 while scoring 5.0 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Thomas Eshelman (8-5, 1.56), John Gavin (7-3, 3.66) and Connor Seabold (5-3, 2.84) with Tyler Peitzmeier being their main closer with 16 saves. Their team ERA is 2.84 and they have allowed 3.6 runs per game. In the 2015 MLB draft they had six players taken: Eshelman (Astros, 2nd round), Justin Garza (Indians, 8th), Peitzmeier (Cubs, 9th), Olmedo-Barrera (Rays, 12th), AJ Kennedy (Padres, 30th) and Jake Jefferies (Nationals, 39th). This is their 17th CWS appearance and they won the title four times in 1979, 1984, 1995 and 2004.

The Vanderbilt Commodores are led by Head Coach Tim Corbin. They feature the number one overall player taken in the 2015 MLB draft shortstop Dansby Swanson. Their top eight hitters are Swanson (.350), Rhett Wiseman (.318), Zander Wiel (.316), Bryan Reynolds (.311), Ro Coleman (.308), Will Toffey (.305), Jason Delay (.301) and Jeren Kendall (.289) with Swanson leading the team with 15 home runs followed by Wiseman and Wiel with 14 each. Their team batting average is .295 while scoring 6.9 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Carson Fulmer (13-2, 1.82), Walker Buehler (4-2, 2.97) and Jordan Sheffield (5-2, 2.90) with Philip Pfeifer being their main closer with five saves. Their team ERA is 2.96 and they give up 3.6 runs per game. In the 2015 MLB draft they had nine players taken: Swanson (Diamondbacks, 1st round), Fulmer (White Sox, 1st), Buehler (Dodgers, 1st), Pfeifer (Dodgers, 3rd), Wiseman (Nationals, 3rd), Tyler Ferguson (Rangers, 6th), Wiel (Twins, 12th), Xavier Turner (Rangers, 19th) and John Kilichowski (Cubs, 39th). This is their third CWS appearance and they won the Championship last year.

This may be the strongest field in terms of both teams and talent in years. Good luck to all. Time to play ball in Omaha!

-population-we blog post by John Bohan 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

pop-we Publication Schedule for the Summer

Like most people summer is pretty crazy around The Brown's household; sand volleyball commitments and scuba diving eat up a lot of our schedule. A big reason; since, we're land-locked scuba divers--we try to squeeze in as much scuba diving time in the Midwest as we can during the summer months. I'm sure our most avid readers have noticed the change in our publication schedule. The new schedule for the summer will continue to run as follows: Tuesday, May 19 through Sept. 7. Our blog still goes live weekly but now on Tuesdays, not Mondays. I apologize for not making the announcement earlier.

Here's some of The Brown's May highlights:

  • Started summer sand volleyball.
  • Celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with a 10-day scuba diving divecation to the Bahamas. 
  • Participated in a scuba diving lake cleanup in Clarinda, Iowa.
  • Spent time at the lake with dear friends.
  • Attended our nephew's girl friend's graduation party.
  • Hosted our oldest nephew's high school graduation party.
  • Ate out with pop-we Dinner Club.
  • Went to a local Skudder Concert.
  • Attended our 25th high school reunion.

And, that was only the start of summer. Happy summer vacationing to everybody!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

10 Signs To Help Get You Motivated

Signs of motivation are all around us in our every day lives: a sunrise or sunset; birds chirping in the morning hours; a baby laughing; a whiff of your favorite flowers; and/or a welcoming breeze through an open window. If you're in need of a little more motivation, feel free to follow the collection of population-we™ motivational signs below:

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Twitter: @populationwe                                                                                           



















More motivational signs are out there--so this is your call-to-action to go find them!

-population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Time at the YMCA

I unabashedly fling my arms about to form the letters Y, M, C, and A when I hear the Village People’s hit song of the 1970’s at a dance or home setting. While I do not think I processed this about living at the Y when I was a youth, I felt” Y.M.C.A.” was a theme song for me as I spent so much time there in my youth. With a myriad of activities across the nation, the YMCA means many things to many people. For me it was a place of shooting jump shots, practicing karate chops, and maybe even a few belly flops. At least, that is the nut shell version.

The hard court is the place of so many of my memories at the Y. To this day, there is just something about the rhythm of a rubber or leather ball hitting against a hard surface. Fans are optional but there is something special about the echoes of an electric crowd. In my experience, all players were welcomed to play on a team and receive real playing time regardless of talent or ability.

We had some good players on my first team ever. I wasn’t one of them at the time. Well, I do not think we ever won a game. While I acted downtrodden momentarily at the time, I actually loved to be on the court. I also fancied myself good at defense just for holding my hands above my head even if the other team scored while I was doing so that first year.

I think that it was the following year that I was on the championship team. We had players that would later win state in high school for Elkhorn, NE. We also had someone on my team that would play on the varsity team at my high school. I sat the bench a lot that year and felt content to do so. They did try hard to orchestrate a chance for me to actually score, but that never became a reality.

Although I was never as good at scoring as my sister or brother, I gained confidence as being legitimately good at defense. Rebounds were not my strong suit. My skills lie in defending the passing lane as I was taught by my coach to do with a man to man defensive that often included a full court press. The other team received a lot of five second violations for not passing the ball within the required five seconds when my teams employed these defense tactics that we practiced.

Sometimes I would block a pass. I was also taught the method of tapping low on the ball being dribbled to steal it from them. I recall stealing the ball a time or two during the game. I do not remember what happened to said ball but for the sake of my glory days, let’s say that I may have assisted in points being put on the board.

Team sports with the YMCA did not employ a lot of time compared to school teams or city leagues. We practiced once a week and played once a week. There were gifted players who played for their school teams too. There were also talented players who took advantage of being able to play at the Y while they had to set out a term due to switching schools. We practiced at public grade schools in my area. Most of our games were at a public middle school.

Good sportsmanship was encouraged. Although it was only part of the time that I played, I do recall the referees gathering us in a large circle prior to the game for the Lord ’s Prayer. That seemed very natural to me as I went to Catholic schools.

Now it is time to get back to the jump shot. I was taught to shoot a jump shot earlier than most people in my day. I was used as an example for the boys a year older than me practicing on the other side of the court. As I mentioned earlier, this did not translate into my scoring in regulation play for a few years. I did not take a lot of shots as far as I recall. In my final year, I was eighteen feet away from the basket when I shot a jump shot that was as the family legend goes made my first shot ever in regulation play. It was all net!

From an early age, I loved the freedom of being in the water. When we were members of the Maple YMCA, I was enrolled in one of the advanced swimming lessons given at the same time the beginners were practicing elsewhere in the pool. There was a ratio of only three students to one instructor in our advanced class. I thought I was cool learning new strokes such as the butterfly. I liked fighting the water pressure on the deep end to swim down to the bottom of the pool as we were instructed.

We also took advantage of swimming during free time. We would just swim around or perhaps have a game of Marco Polo. There may be a race now and again. I thought it was great that you could swim year around rain or shine. One year, my family and cousin’s family rented the pool for a party celebration for me and my younger cousin whose birthday was two days from mine.

I was never very inclined to diving as they tended to cause my stomach to sting when I did not manage to go in head first. I generally jumped in from the diving board feet first to avoid a belly flop. A girl a few years younger than me from my old neighborhood explained how to do a flip by acting like you are doing a somersault off the board. I tried it and it worked! I repeated it over and over again!

Sometimes my mom invited me to join her and her friends for aquasize class. I enjoyed meeting the ladies and the food outing that followed. They were known for their pot lucks and also meeting at restaurants. My mom and my aunt went for a few years together. When my mom had a schedule conflict due to starting back to work, my aunt continued to go. From the group, she made lifelong cherished friends.

-population-we blog post by Barb Bohan 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Red Nose Day Comes to America

Red Nose Day has been a tradition in the UK that happens every two years where people do something funny at home, school or work for money. A telethon is held on BBC with comedy and entertainment to inspire watchers to give generously to the UK's number one fundraising event. After 30 years it is crossing the ocean as Red Nose Day USA when NBC will have a three hour special on May 21, 2015 at 8 p.m. Eastern\7 p.m. Central.
Get your Red Noses ready & hashtag your photos #RedNose!

The corporate sponsors are Walgreens and M&M’s. Red noses can be purchased at Walgreens and the proceeds go toward the efforts to lift children out of poverty in the US and around the world. People are encouraged to take pictures wearing the red noses and posting to #RedNose on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to spread the word. There are also Walgreens vendors that will make donations based on their products sold at Walgreens from April 26, 2015 through May 30, 2015. M&M's is launching an awareness-building and fund raising campaign which is detailed at www.Facebook.com/mms.

The inaugural three-hour special on NBC will feature actors, comedians and musicians doing original sketch comedy, hilarious parodies and incredible musical performances.. Among those at the star studded night will be Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Anniston, Elizabeth Banks, Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Carson Daly, Will Farrell, Jeff Goldblum, Jennifer Hudson, Anna Kendrick, John Krasinski, John Legend, Adam Levine, Nick Offerman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Blake Shelton, Martin Short, Pharrell Williams and Reese Witherspoon. They will come together to have fun, raise money and change lives. Videos produced by Funny or Die will also be part of the broadcast.

The money raised from the Red Nose Day special will be split between domestic and international charities. The charity partners are Boys & Girls Clubs of America, charity: water, Childrens' Health Fund, Feeding America, Gavi, the Global Fund, Lift, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, Oxfam America, Save the Children, United Way and The Vaccine Alliance. The money will be raised from personal donations and corporate partners.

If you would be interested in making a donation that is possible here.

-population-we blog post by John Bohan 
© 2015 population-we, LLC
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Wedding Reception Missteps Worth Blogging About

Sitting with my grandfather at the back of our wedding reception I was apologizing for everything he witnessed at our reception. At the time he was 78, and he’d seen a lot of his grandkids get married. He announced to me with a grin, “This was probably the most memorable reception of a grandchild I’ve been too!” I was truly mortified.
Dancing at our wedding reception before the missteps started.

Brian & I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary last week. To this date, people still talk about our wedding reception, but for the wrong reasons. Why? Because two things happened. First, our DJ had our guests on the dance floor participate in a strip off. Not until we saw one of our groomsmen walk into the lobby, where we were talking to other guests, did we know this fact. He was in his boxers and had his cumberbun above his head exclaiming: “I am the king of the strippers!” My grandpa witnessed it all. That wasn't the only grandparent in the action. Brian’s 71-year-old grandma was dancing with one of our groomsmen when the DJ announced the “strip off!” Grandma started actually unbuttoning John’s tuxedo, but luckily she stopped and walked away. Second, the final regret. Brian’s best friend’s date had a little too much to drink and ate the top of our wedding cake. Yes, the wedding cake you’re suppose to save and eat on your first anniversary. My husband didn’t care much because--he actually doesn’t like cake. I was furious at the act! Today we laugh about it; however, when it happened everyone was appalled.

I would include a video; unfortunately, the only documentation we have is photos because years later I taped over our wedding video. My husband was traveling back and forth for business to Indiana and I popped a tape in to record an Oprah episode on "How to Survive a Plane Crash." 

If you have any wedding reception missteps worth remembering--we want to hear from you! We just might be able to give you some closure and a chance to redeem yourself or the guilty party!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week Post Honors Mary Kay Mueller

Worldwide this week May 4-8 is Teacher Appreciation Week. In honor of teachers past and present population-we™ (pop-we) dedicates this week's post to Marian High School teacher Ms. Mary Kay Mueller.

Knowing what I know now, I have even greater appreciation for my 10th grade Speech Communication teacher, Ms. Mueller. The wholesome looking, attractive teacher with a warm, wide smile and friendly, broadcaster quality voice was the measuring stick in my mind when I majored in Communication at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Teacher & Author Extraordinaire Mary Kay Mueller

As the fear of taking a public speaking class has kept some people from pursuing higher education or completing their degree, it is good that both my high school public speaking teacher and the introductory public speaking course that I completed 10 years later in college both had instructors that seemed receptive to the efforts of the students. My first speech in my high school class broke down some of the elements of pitching the windmill for softball. Following my speech, Ms. Mueller spoke of how passion for a subject makes a difference in delivery.

Ms. Mueller assured us that feeling nervous was normal and can be channeled to help us. Nervousness and excitement are quite similar according to her.

The scope of what I was taught in my 10th grade class was more comprehensive than my college level Public Speaking class. Both classes were one semester and mandatory. We did the following speeches in both high school and college although the names may vary: demonstration, persuasion, and impromptu. The 10th grade class also had sections on debate, acting, humor and Oral Interpretation.

Oral Interpretation is my favorite type of Speech starting in 7th grade when I was one of the students chosen to compete for my school. In Ms. Mueller’s class, my love for this form of speech grew even more. I had one of the most alive moments in my life as I performed in front of her class shifting my voice between characters including Wendy, Captain Hook, Peter Pan and the narrator. I received such positive feedback from my class and Ms. Mueller. She did caution me that some of my voices could lead to voice strain. She also let me know that I could participate in that event for competition. I heard that she encouraged a lot of people to go out for the team.

During our acting section, I recall Ms. Mueller giving me positive feedback as we stood on the floor space between the basement level and next level of stairs. Now I am comfortable speaking one on one with most people. When I switched schools in 8th grade, I became quite withdrawn and lost normal communication skills when talking one on one. I seldom had anything to say and it could be hard making my lips move if I did want to speak. I could still give speeches and act during that time. I have learned that I am not so unusual in these traits among actors and performers. In a lecture at the university, I learned that there was a whole area of study for my condition labeled communication apprehension. The professor specialized in that very area. I am sorry for my blank stare at the time but grateful for a teacher who took the time.

Speech class at Marian High School, an all-girl Catholic High School in Omaha, NE was a safe place. At the beginning of our class, the rows of students wearing a light blue and white plaid culottes in warmer weather and a gray, longer skirt with in the cooler season stood by our desks as Ms. Mueller told us to tighten and relax regions of our body step by step until we had relaxed our feet, legs, arms, hands and more. I think it culminated in being hunched over in a rag doll position and raising ourselves upright ever so slowly. That was my favorite part of the stretching. For our vocal warm up at the start of class, there was a chant that was sing-song, and drum-like in quality. I delighted in the nonsense chant and maybe this explains in part my love of rhythm and whimsy in poetry.

In 10th grade, we learned the model of sending receiving messages that includes a sender, a receiver and interference that is probably basic to many high school and college level courses. We also learned far more interpersonal communication skills than I would in courses that followed at the university. Ms. Mueller taught us how to phrase our feelings in a way to not accuse a person when we confronted him or her. She tutored us in listening skills relating how rephrasing what a person said back to them demonstrates that you are listening.

There was a section on body language during the class. This had real application as she coached the girl in the role of Sandy in her acting group rendition of the play, “Grease” that her crossed leg was too assertive for the passive character.

Interesting factoids were woven in her lectures. Some of the insights came from her notes on past speeches given by students taking my class. Part of her purpose in sharing, was to help us learn attention getters, persuasive arguments, and other helpful information for speeches. From her I learned about the value of tears for releasing toxins from the body and the curative power of laughter. I even gained a rationale from chocolate as source for magnesium. We became more savvy consumers as she made us aware of scare tactics used by advertisers. She discussed the possible ramifications of living in a society that people feel a need to take a pill to take away every pain and headache.

Serious subjects were openly discussed. I recall her educating us about the importance of walking in an assertive manner while being aware of surroundings as she said this protected from sexual assault. She said that women were often assaulted when they were most drained and having a horrible day. Of course, it is wisest not to be alone in dangerous areas.

I think that I can vaguely recall emphasis on self-esteem in the lectures. But I cannot even form a fuzzy memory of the content. Ms. Mueller’s seeing something in me has always meant so much to me. The success in her classroom has always been an important foundation for me.

Ms. Mueller was very anti-television as she felt it whiles away our time that could be more productive. I believe her television was in her basement to make it only to be used on rare occasions, which I think included weather emergencies.

When Ms. Mueller was one of the faculty leaders for my retreats, the environment was so conducive for growth and sharing. There were large group and small group activities. I recall an activity where we took turns guessing the randomly placed label around our neck by the response given by others in our group.

During a small group session, someone shared something personal that she had done prior to high school. When I openly shared my feelings during the retreat, I felt closer to my classmates. Their continued acceptance of me is so vital to me. I so treasure that weekend retreat.

One of the wonderful aspects of attending a private school was the freedom it gave Ms. Mueller and others to share their spiritual feelings during Retreats and at times in the classroom. She shared her faith in God and prayer that year.

During a retreat, Ms. Mueller shared how young people lacking experience do not know how life is full of peaks and valleys. Her words have come back to me over and over and over as I have had my ups and downs. Little did I know how real the peaks and valleys were in her own life.

In reading her self-help workbook Taking Care of Me: The Habits of Happiness, I discovered the teacher who cheered us at school had troubles at home. As abusive situations go in cycles between good and bad and also escalate over time, I am not sure how bad it was when she was my teacher. It was only a couple of years after she taught my class that she hit rock bottom according to her book. She is one of the last people that I would ever expect to seek refuge shelter. I have known another dynamic woman who would find herself in a dangerous marriage. One cannot always spot someone in an abusive situation when there are no telling bruises or broken bones.

When Ms. Mueller and her toddler daughter fled to a shelter, she met an elderly mentor whose views at first seemed harsh to her. The elderly woman did not believe in victim mentality. She grew to love this wise woman who empowers women to feel that they deserve happiness.

Ms. Mueller said the future is often grim for women at the shelter. They often find themselves in abusive relationships again. She humbled to what she described as a blank slate. This was not a period of her being the communication expert. Here she was an open vessel willing to learn a new way of thinking. She said this helped her break the cycle of abuse in her life.

I have often wished that youth that I have known could have a Ms. Mueller in their life. Fortunately, her words are reaching wide audiences of students. She also speaks to teachers and has a great deal of respect for this profession. As a former teacher, she knows how teaching can be both rewarding and demanding. She understands the realities of burn out among teachers who lack the right balance in their lives.

Ms. Mueller also shares presentations to business professionals, and people living in shelters. Messages are tailored to the particular audience.

In addition, Ms. Mueller provides training for people to become certified coaches. She said there is a demand for coaching as people want to change from the inside out. In her book, Taking Care of Me: Habits for Happiness, she relates the value of having coaches in our life. They may take many forms whether they are a grandparent, rabbi, pastor, teacher, therapist or certified coach. She also distinguishes between a coach and those who may act as a team player or cheerleader. She feels it is easy to find groups of supportive people and has started such groups online. I think there may be a time and a place for coaches and also a place for mental health professionals with very specialized training. Ms. Mueller is all about being in control of your life and not surrendering your power to another including a coach. She explains how trust is so critical that you should terminate a relationship with a coach if the trust is violated.

If the support group is mainly a gripe session or a place where people try to top each other, it is time to find a new group according to her. She also counsels that it is time to move on to a new group if you find yourself being there for the group and gaining anything in return. The book helps one find balance and happiness. The road to happiness according to Ms. Mueller is not being a martyr never meeting your own needs nor is it living right in your comfort zone. She said that many parents surveyed say that they want their children to be happy while the parent is miserable sacrificing so much for others. That was quite a thought provoking statement to me as she pointed out how being miserable is what is modeled for the next generation in these cases and the cycle repeats.

Ms. Mueller is also the author of 8 to Great: The Powerful Process for Positive Change. These are the 8 steps that can be tailored for audiences of young children to business professionals. 1. Get the Picture 2. Risk 3. Full Responsibility 4. Feel All Your Feelings 5. Honest Communication 6. Forgiveness of the Past. 7. Gratitude for the present 8. Hope for the Future. The last three steps are referred to as the FHE formula. I will not elaborate on all the steps. One of the crucial steps is allowing ourselves to feel all our emotions. She points out how we can feel mad or sad and not be stuck in these emotions as some people who become mad at being mad and sad about being sad.

Many of the principles in Ms. Mueller’s book are helping At Risk Students to have better attitudes and behavior and to stay in school. Her message is helping both students and adults move towards their dreams instead of running from them while finding more joy in the present.

Lisa Tonjes Moritz is one such person. After reading about her success on the 8 to Great facebook page, I requested a testimonial from her. She said, “I have always tried to be a positive person but going through MK's training at a time I was single and unemployed, really taught me to "Get the Picture" and live my life in Gratitude. MK became a friend and was a big boost in helping me start my first business. I am calling 2015, My 8 To Great year because it has been 8 years since I sat in her living room and then started HOPE organizing. MANY great things have happened but I am ready for some big change this year that with make it GREAT.”

I knew that Ms. Mueller was part of the back story of a golden ticket to Hollywood by a young man in my area as it was featured on the local news. I did not know until reading her book how the techniques in 8 to Great were so critical in his securing the coveted golden ticket.

During 12th grade religion class my teacher told the class that Ms. Mueller was a gift to the school. Given the fact that this teacher was quite instrumental in my life as she had also been my 8th grade religion teacher and 9th grade English teacher, I appreciated her endorsement. Classmates readily agreed. Once I had a conversation with a student from a different grade who I do not know the identify at this time who was in a leadership capacity and was part of the Campus Ministry that Ms. Mueller led at the time relay how neat she felt Ms. Mueller was in our brief conversation. Although I have not sought any information from classmates or Ms. Mueller regarding the content of our class other than questions about stretching and the chant as I wanted this to be my memories, I did have classmates add recently that they really learned a lot from her and enjoyed her class.

I have enjoyed reading testimonials of her recent work as an international speaker and trainer. This is one of many :

“MK is authentic. She devoted time to listen to and understand our needs. For me MK's message is something that resonates through how I was raised and who I am. It is not a quick fix or touchy feely. It is a way of life that can help in all aspects of a person’s life. We brought her in for an in-service and now have trained myself and seven staff in her process. If you have time to read 8 to Great or watch some of the Youtube videos on themk8togreat channel, you will get a brief snap shot of what you will experience with MK. She is the real deal.”

- Patrick Crowdis, Spearville MS/HS Principal, KS

Although she has grown so much as a person since she taught my 10th grade class, the person described by Crowdis seems so familiar to me.

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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