First Impressions


Entering a room with an expectant audience or speaking in a public forum presents an opportunity.  Walking to the middle of the stage focuses attention. People often form a lasting impression within the first 3 seconds of viewing the presenter or person entering their field of vision.

Our eyes, our mind, our past experience, our attitudes, our prejudices form an opinion -instantly.  Before we have heard the subject matter or met the person being introduced our entire physical and emotional body responds to external input and makes a decision about incoming information.

This is human nature.  We are programmed to respond.  It’s for our survival. We need this information to physically exist and function. When a new entity approaches we need to instantly decide if it is a danger or friend.  This is natural.  We make this decision without conscious thought: almost a reaction.

However, we understand from our experience that “new” is not always harmful. This knowledge kicks in about 2 seconds after our initial first impression hits us.  So, within about 5 seconds of confronting a new person or situation, our entire being has developed an impression, albeit good or bad.

Our task, as responsible adults, seems to be both complex and simple.  Acknowledge the presence of our human instinct to discern between danger or demure and then accept that first impressions may be askew.  An example of this occurred in the New York Museum of Modern Art.  A picture by impressionist Henri Matisse hung upside down for 47 days in 1961.  To announce the blunder, the New York Times ran its headline upside down -( Digest Dec2017/Jan2018, p.45)

First Impressions are necessary.  It’s our job to get them right.



Civility is described as: a polite act or expression (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus).  In today’s society this idea seems to have taken on a character of it’s own.  Wouldn’t it be nice if courtesy and civility were interchangeable.  It could be our calling card.  We could be kind to people that we meet and be sociable at the same time.  Each person who met us would believe that we valued their opinion and truly wanted to spend time with them.


When we sit down with a person to have a face-to-face conversation, we could look them in the eye, respond both verbally and physically to their comments, wait until they are done talking, respond appropriately to their statements and engage them in a meaningful conversation.  As a very famous person once said – “You can’t underestimate the power of primal needs.”  Everyone is hungry and wants to be valued, listened to, and understood.  If a person repeatedly gets ignored or beaten down when they nicely state their cause, they will become louder and louder in their delivery method.  This behavior quickly becomes erratic.

People become overwhelmed with emotion and their perspective fades into a cloud of grey annoying chatter.  This verbosity mixes with other babble from other ignored, emotional mortals geared toward hubris and the air is filled with opinions, ideas,  feelings, judgments, conclusions and estimations that stray far afield from truth.

So, let’s all take it down a few notches.  Maybe you didn’t like the past but ponder a minute on what you would like the future to look like.  Maybe the purpose of your next conversation is to determine what the other person really believes instead of trying to win the conversation or convert the listener or belittle them in public.  Albert Einstein may have posed this thought: “I think that the most important question facing humanity is, Is the universe a friendly place?” You decide.

Fact or Opinion

Ripples of information float through health and medicine today like waves in a still pond.  Each brings with it a new bit of news heralding some discovery which will give us a longer life or a brighter future.


The key for a health-conscious consumer is to decided what is fact and what is opinion.  According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus – fact: is the quality of being actual; something that exists.  That is very different from – an opinion which is defined as: a belief stronger than impression and less stronger than positive knowledge.

As you can see, both are related to knowledge.  However, opinion takes a free range and adds the very human concept into the mix.  Of course, we all want to believe that what  we read is the gospel, especially if it comes from someone who has an academic degree behind or beside their name.  However, it may be of value to investigate a little further and actually decide if the information makes sense to you.  I would suggest that you be critical in your reading.

That is not to say that you approach everything from a negative point of view.  Instead, read with a “critical eye.”  Check out the background of the author.  Look at the other topics that the author writes about.  Be a good read. Decide for yourself weather the idea is a real fact or just an opinion.  We need to teach our children to be both healthy in their bodies and their minds.  Make no mistake our children are watching what we put into our bodies and our minds!


Attending the authors showcase at a local library yesterday was an exciting event. Friends of the Library, writers groups, local arts councils, big box retails and over 70 local authors were all present to make the day a roaring success.  The project was partially funded by the Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.  This means that “all hands were in” to sponsor this celebration of local acknowledgement of writing talent.


This brings up the question. Does anyone read anymore?  Well, that question was quickly answered not only by the enthusiastic turnout of independent authors but the presence of internationally known author, Sylvia Day.  She flew in from England to attend the event.  She was warmly received by the general public and authors as well.   Her gracious attitude extended not only to greeting her fans at a book signing but offering “inside” information on her extremely successful career.

From her point of view, writers and authors are divided into two categories – plotters and prancers.  A plotter outlines the book in every aspect before the writing begins.  Each chapter is outlined with a storyboard approach.  The paragraphs are detailed and “bullet” statements are used to determine each step that each character will take in their development. A graph may be used to outline how each character interacts with the others.  This process is continued until the entire story is complete and the ending is known and written – on the storyboard.

The prancer writes in a totally different fashion.  This writer imagines ideas of the story and has vague images of how the plot will develop with only a simple knowledge of each character. As the “prancer” approaches the task of authoring a story, they let each character develop their own style.  The writer is simply seen as a “tool” that the characters use to tell their story.  It is as if the author is only needed to sit in the chair and move their fingers over the keyboard so that the characters can get their story put down on paper.

Life often reflects these writing styles.  Some people need to plot out their every move, must know every option, look at every pathway before making decisions in their life.  Others, simply wake up each day and have no idea what lies ahead of them – they just do what comes their way – what feels good.

I guess the key is to first decide which kind of “writer” you are in life and then design your life or just take life as it comes…

It’s Easy, It’s Good

The choice was easy, just tell the truth.  She was a good person – didn’t lie or steal.  The truth was known to her.  She even knew all of the details.  There was no mystery to the story.  Everything was in plain sight.  It would be a good thing.

Her conscious fell heavy.  Bearing her soul meant that her lifelong, best friend would be convicted of a horrible crime and probably be sentenced to death.  No one had actually confronted her yet and asked her any questions but other potential witnesses were slowly being eliminated.

Her best friend was a good and morale person – not prone to violence or fits of rage.  However, the only witness to the horrible incident was her trusted friend, the perpetrator, and herself.  No one else knew the truth – the whole, awful truth.  She knew that revealing the details would sever their friendship forever and send her lifelong friend into a spiral of despair and sadness.  Even her urging had not forced her friend to confess to the crime.

It was clear to all that the truth hinged on what she would reveal about her friend, even though her heart ached just thinking about the consequences.  Her mind told her that telling the truth is a good thing.  However, her heart knew that doing the right thing is not always easy.

She approached the witness stand, was sworn in and took a deep breath as she began to answer the obvious questions.  Yes, it is good to tell the truth but not so easy when you know how the facts will affect your friend.


The concept of truth is something that causes me to pause.  It is an idea that permeates every aspect of society.  Whether we talk about advertising, friendships, legal issues, promises, or just everyday discussions, truth seems to be a precious commodity.

The issue resembles the tap root of a great oak.  When the root system of a healthy tree is based is solid, firm soil its’ branches reach forth toward the warm sun and send out new growth which, in turn reaches even higher toward its’ life giving source – warm oxygen.

Truth is liken to this healthy tree in that both grow and flourish only when the base and “tap root” of the system are based in solid ground.  I encounter situations which give me moments to pause when this idea is openly disregarded.  It isn’t as though truth is by-passed or forgotten – it’s knowingly and willfully disregarded.

I have an internal monitor that blinks or activates when I am approaching a morale issue.  It alerts me that I may want to check myself concerning the path I am going down.  I assume that others have the same internal monitor, that may be my challenge – assuming.  But I can’t help thinking that if I want to keep my “oak tree healthy” it means that I need to also keep my morale compass pointed in the right direction.

Truth, they say is in the judgment of the beholder.  However, it seems pretty clear to me that truth is basic, true and grounded.  It, like the oak, is always reaching for clean air.