Words I should know how to pronounce

maxresdefaultSeptember 16, 2016 – I often peruse the dailywritingtips and ragan websites to stay up-to-date on best communication practices. The article below has appeared on both sites, and it’s too fun not to share.

Now, I may be from Philadelphia, and we’re known for unique word pronunciations, but I thought I was better than most. However, if graded on this list, I would barely pass. How did you do?

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51 words you should know how to pronounce

By Maeve Maddox | Posted: August 18, 2016

Fred Astaire drew laughs back in the 1930s with his song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” in which the lovers can’t agree on the pronunciation of words like either, neither, and tomato.

On a personal level, I cringe when I hear someone sound the “t” in often or pronounce pecan with a short “a,” but I have to acknowledge that both these pronunciations are widely accepted alternative pronunciations that can be justified by the spelling.

Alternative pronunciations, however, are a different matter from out-and-out mispronunciations. The latter, no matter how common, are incorrect, either because of the spelling that indicates another pronunciation, or because of what is widely agreed upon to be conventional usage. Word of caution: I’m writing from an American perspective.

Here are 50 frequently mispronounced words. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a good start:

1. aegis—The ae in this word is pronounced /ee/. Say EE-JIS/, not /ay-jis/. In mythology, the “aegis” is associated especially with the goddess Athene. It is her shield with the Gorgon’s head on it.

2. anyway—The problem with this word is not so much pronunciation as the addition of an unnecessary sound. Don’t add an s to make it “anyways.” The word is ANYWAY.

3. archipelago—Because the word is from Greek, the ch is pronounced with a /k/ sound. Say /AR-KI-PEL-A-GO/, not /arch-i-pel-a-go/.

4. arctic—Note the c after the r. Say /ARK-TIK/, not /ar-tik/.

5. accessory—the first c has a “hard” sound. Say /AK-SESS-OR-Y/, not /ass-ess-or-y/.

6. ask—The s comes before the k. Say /ASK/ not /aks/.

7. asterisk—Notice the second s. Say /AS-TER-ISK/, not /as-ter-ik/.

8. athlete—The word has two syllables, not three. Say /ATH-LETE/, not /ath-uh-lete/.

9. barbed wire—Notice the ar in the first syllable. Say /BARBD/, not /bob/.

10. cache—The word is of French origin, but it does not end with an accented syllable, as cachet does. A cache is a hiding place or something that is being hidden: a cache of supplies; a cache of money; a cache of drugs. Say /KASH/, not /ka-shay/.

11. candidate—Notice the first d. Say /KAN-DI-DATE/, not /kan-i-date/.

12. cavalry—This word refers to troops that fight on horseback. Say /KAV-UL-RY/, not /kal-vuh-ry/. NOTE: Calvary refers the place where Jesus was crucified, and it is pronounced /kal-vuh-ry/.)

13. chaos—The spelling ch can represent three different sounds in English: /tch/ as in church, /k/ as in Christmas, and /sh/ as in chef. The first sound is heard in words of English origin and is the most common. The second sound of ch, /k/, is heard in words of Greek origin. The third and least common of the three ch sounds is heard in words adopted from modern French. Chaos is a Greek word. Say /KAY-OS/, not /tchay-os/.

14. clothes—Notice the th spelling and sound. Say /KLOTHZ/, not /kloz/.

15. daïs—A daïs is a raised platform. The pronunciation fault is to reverse the vowel sounds. The word is often misspelled as well as mispronounced. Say /DAY-IS/ not /dī-is/.

16. dilate—The word has two syllables, not three. Say /DI-LATE/, not /di-a-late/.

17. drowned—This is the past participle form of the verb drown. Notice that there is no final d on drown. Don’t add one when using the word in its past form. Say /DROWND/, not /drown-ded/.

18. et cetera—This Latin term is often mispronounced, and its abbreviation is frequently misspelled. Say /ET CET-ER-A/, not /ex cet-er-a/. For the abbreviation, write etc., not ect.

19. February—Just about everyone I know drops the first r in February. The spelling calls for /FEB-ROO-AR-Y/, not /feb-u-ar-y/.

20. foliage—The word has three syllables. Say /FO-LI-UJ/, not /fol-uj/.

21. forte—English has two words spelled this way. One comes from Italian and the other from French. The Italian word, a musical term meaning “loud,” is pronounced with two syllables: /FOR-TAY/. The French word, an adjective meaning “strength” or “strong point,” is pronounced with one syllable: /FORT/.

22. Halloween—The word for the holiday Americans celebrate with such enthusiasm on Oct. 31 derives from “Hallowed Evening,” meaning “evening that has been made holy.” The word “hallow” comes from Old English halig, meaning “holy.” Notice the a in the first syllable and say /HAL-O-WEEN/, not /hol-lo-ween/.

23. height—The word ends in a /T/ sound, not a /TH/ sound. Say /HITE/, not /hith/.

24. heinous—People unfamiliar with the TV show Law and Order: S.V.U. may not know that heinous has two syllables. (The show begins with this sentence: “In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.”) Say /HAY-NUS/, not /heen-i-us/.

25. hierarchy—The word has four syllables. Say /HI -ER-AR-KY,/ not /hi-ar-ky/.

26. Illinois—As with Arkansas, the final “s” in Illinois is not pronounced. Say /IL-I-NOY/ (and /Ar-kan-saw/, not /il-li-noiz/ or /ar-kan-sas/). NOTE: Some unknowledgeable folks may still be trying to pronounce Arkansas as if it had something to do with Kansas. The pronunciation /ar-kan-zuz/ is waaay off base.

27. interpret—The word has three syllables; don’t add one. Say /IN-TER-PRET/, not /in-ter-pre-tate/.
28. incident—Something that happens is an “incident.” Don’t say “incidence” when you mean a specific event. There is a word “incidence,” but it has a different meaning.

29. “irregardless”—See the real word, regardless.

30. jewelry—The word has three syllables. Say /JEW-EL-RY/, not /jew-el-er-y/. The pronunciation /jewl-ry/ is common but not correct, as it removes one syllable from the word.

31. library—Notice where the first r comes in the word. Say /LI-BRAR-Y/, not /li-ber-ry/.

32. medieval—The word has four syllables. The first e may be pronounced either short [med] or long [meed]. Say /MED-EE-EEVAL/ or /MEE-DEE-EEVAL/, not /meed-eval/.

33. miniature—The word has four syllables. Say /MIN-I-A-TURE/, not /min-a-ture/.

34. mischievous—This is the adjectival form of mischief whose meaning is “calamity” or “harm.”
Mischievous is now associated with harmless pranks, so that the expression “malicious mischief” has been coined as another term for vandalism. Mischievous has three syllables, with the accent on the first syllable: /MIS-CHI-VUS/. Don’t say /mis-chee-vee-us/.

35. niche—Though many words of French origin have been anglicized in standard usage, this one cries out to retain a long “e” sound and a /SH/ sound for the che. Say /NEESH/, not /nitch/.

36. orient—This word has three syllables. As a verb it means to place something in its proper position in relation to something else. It comes from a word meaning “east” and originally meant positioning something in relation to the east. Now it is used with a more general meaning. Say /OR-I-ENT/, not /or-i-en-tate/.

37. old-fashioned—This adjective is formed from a past participle: “fashioned.” Don’t leave off the -ed. Say /OLD-FASHIOND/, not /old-fashion/.

38. picture—There’s a k sound in picture. Don’t confuse picture with pitcher. Say /PIK-TURE/, not /pitch-er/. Pitcher is a different word. A pitcher is a serving vessel with a handle, or a player who throws a baseball.

39. precipitation—This is a noun that refers to rain, sleet or snow or anything else that normally falls from the sky. As with prescription (below), the prefix is PRE-. Say /PRE-CIP-I-TA-TION/, not /per-cip-i-ta-tion/.

40. prescription—Note the prefix PRE- in this word. Say /PRE-SCRIP-TION/, not /per- scrip-tion/ or /pro-scrip-tion/.

41. preventive—The word has three syllables. A common fault is to add a syllable. Say PRE-VEN-TIVE/, not /pre-ven-ta-tive.

42. pronunciation—This word is a noun. It comes from the verb pronounce, but it is not pronounced like the verb. Say /PRO- NUN-CI-A-TION/, not /pro-nounce-i-a-tion/.

43. prostate—This word for a male gland is often mispronounced. There is an adjective prostrate , which means to be stretched out face down on the ground. When speaking of the gland, however, say /PROS-TATE/, not /pros-trate/.

44. realtor—The word has three syllables. Say /RE-AL-TOR/, not /re-a-la-tor/. It refers to a member of the National Association of Realtors, not simply a real estate agent.

45. regardless—The word has three syllables. Please don’t add an ir- to make it into the abomination “irregardless”.

46. sherbet—The word has only one r in it. Say /SHER-BET/ not /sher-bert/.

47. spayed—This is a one-syllable word, the past participle form of the verb to spay, meaning to remove the ovaries from an animal. Like the verbdrown (above) the verb spay does not have a d in its infinitive form. Don’t add one to the past participle. Say /SPADE/, not /spay-ded/.

48. ticklish—The word has two syllables. Say /TIK-LISH/, not /tik-i-lish/.

49. tract—Religious evangelists often hand out long printed statements of belief called “tracts.” That’s one kind of “tract.” Houses are built on “tracts.” Then there’s the word “track.” Athletes run on “tracks.” Animals leave “tracks.” Don’t say /TRAKT/ when you mean /TRAK/, and vice versa.

50. vehicle—Although there is an h in the word, to pronounce it is to sound hicky. Say /VEE-IKL/, not /vee-Hikl/.

51. wintry—Here’s another weather word often mispronounced, even by meteorologists. The word has two syllables. Say /WIN-TRY/, not /win-ter-y/.


Three helpful tools that making writing fun

toolsMarch 4, 2016—Like public speaking, a common phobia many people share is the fear of writing. Adding words to a blank page can be very intimidating whether you’re an aspiring or professional writer, or anyone who needs to compose an email, letter, term paper or a post on social media.

Today’s technology offers tools that will not only calm your fear but also make you a better writer. Here are three of my favorites:

1. Both Microsoft Word and Outlook have a built-in writing tool known as the Flesch-Kincaid Scale that takes the spelling and grammar feature to the next level. Along with count and average readings, the scale offers a readability test that shows you how difficult your words are to understand. It grades your work on a scale of 0-100 (the higher the better with a score of 60 to 70 the most desirable for the average reader). The scale also gives you the percent of passive sentences in your copy, since the more active your writing is the more readable it becomes. I aim for a score of 15 percent or less whenever I use it, but I’ve reached my real goal if 0 percent pops up in that area. The Flesch-Kincaid Scale for this article, for example is shown below:


2.  grammarly.com offers a handy plug-in tool that you can download to your desktop so you can check spelling and grammar and improve your writing. Their basic service is free and is available either by the plug-in or by copying and pasting text at their site. See example below. Or, you can pay for their premium feature that offers helpful tips, suggestions and more. Plans start at $11.66 per month.


3. Another tool, known as the Hemmingway App, is by far my favorite because it actually makes editing fun. The Hemmingway App is an editor that points out potential problems in your writing by highlighting adverbs, passive voice and dull, complicated words—which Hemmingway despised—with a rainbow of colors and easy to follow advice and explanations. Download it to any PC or MAC for a one-time fee of only $9.99.


Get Off to a Great Start in 2016

great startJanuary 6, 2016 – A fresh, clean slate is presented to each of us at the beginning of every New Year. Here are a few simple tips that may help you ease your way into a successful 2016.

1. Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Most of us make them with good intentions, but quickly we get frustrated and fall off track. Sure, resolutions are great to want to make improvements, if we keep them, but too often we reach for the sky when we should make changes at a slower pace. Statistics show that only a small percent of those who make resolutions actually keep them, anyway. Here’s proof that the reason we fail is because our brains can’t handle resolutions.

2. Create a list of goals. If you want to make any type of change in your life start by writing down each goal, and then tackle the items on the list one at a time. When you’ve completed a goal, it may give you satisfaction and drive to cross it off the list. I know that works for me. By starting small, with one goal and taking steps towards achieving it every day, you can begin to change your behavior. Soon the new behavior becomes a habit and once something is a habit, you’re more likely to stick with it. Here’s more information about the science behind building habits that stick.

3. Remember to breathe. My niece has the word “breathe” tattooed on her wrist. She got it in support of my mother who suffered with emphysema and required an oxygen generator to perform a function many of us take for granted. It’s also a reminder, she explained, that we need to slow down and remember to breathe. Wise words. I remember in a training class when the instructor asked us to pair off with the person sitting next to us and tell each other about ourselves for 30 seconds. Sounds simple, right? I’m not too fond of public speaking, but with an audience of only one, I expected to breeze through it. Unfortunately, I performed the task like a banshee, telling the dazed woman next to me everything I could think of, and at rapid fire speed. When I was finished, I was almost panting like I just ran a few miles because I had forgotten to breathe. I had plenty of time to catch my breath, though, and listen to my partner tell me all about herself in a calm and collected manner, and at a much slower pace. Remembering to breathe would have saved me from that awkward situation, and probably countless others in my life. At the very least it would have gotten me through a 30 second speech without turning blue. Taking a moment to focus on your breathing is also good to control stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and more. Learn more about the benefits of deep breathing exercises.

4. Be Curious. Did you know that being curious can lead to a happier, healthier life? Curiosity may have killed the cat, something my mother used to say to me because I was a curious kid who asked lots of questions, but curiosity should never be considered negative. Children are naturally curious and we can always learn a lot by watching them. By definition, the word curious means eager to learn more, and what is wrong with that? Curiosity can lead you to discovering new interests, hobbies and passions, and help you feel engaged in your life. Here are 10 reasons why you should be curious.

5. Don’t forget to laugh. Your ability to find humor in life’s crazy and wonderful situations is most important. Research has shown that having a sense of humor has a positive effect on a person’s health, happiness and success in life. For example, finding your sense of humor in stressful situations or difficult times usually helps you get through it much easier. Not only that, a sense of humor is an important part of brain development in young children. When a child laughs – or anyone else for that matter – blood flow increases to the brain and they feel energized and alert. Don’t you always feel better after a hearty laugh? Here’s more scientific proof that laughter truly is the best medicine.

Quench your thirst the entertaining way

il_340x270.575161680_66t5February 2, 2015 – It was Albert Einstein who uttered the words that once you stop learning, you start dying.

Perhaps that sounds dramatic to you, but in the world in instant information, it’s easy to see how you can get left behind in the workplace and in life if you don’t keep nourishing your brain. Or, at least so you can keep up with the conversation at the next cocktail party.

Here are two websites that I am obsessed with right now that offer plenty of knowledge.

Ted Talks

Looking for a free and entertaining way to learn something new. Visit Ted Talks, a nonprofit website devoted to spreading ideas. They accomplish this by presenting short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) on a variety of topics from creative problem solving and forensic anthropology to poetry that frees the soul, and in more than 100 languages.

The people at Ted claim they offer a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and they do exactly that. Search for any topic and you’re bound to find something that sparks your interest.


Lynda.com is a leading online company that helps you learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve your personal and professional goals.

Users have access to the vast library of engaging courses taught by industry experts that range from digital photography and other creative arts workshops to programming languages and more. I recently turned to Lynda.com to learn Microsoft Visio when I was in a pinch, and within an hour, I had solved my problem.

With Lynda.com, there is a fee, but it’s affordable, and you can save even more with unlimited monthly subscriptions.

These two sites are a small sampling of the wide variety of learning tools available on the Internet. However, they are both so complete they’ll give anyone with a craving for knowledge a head start.

The happiness solution

happy_success_and_happiness-300x270March 13, 2013 – I’m not a fan of the self help section of the bookstore, but here is some of the best advice I’ve ever read, courtesy of www.dumblittleman.com. The list is long, and they all may not apply to you, but I’ll bet you will relate to many of the items on it.

75 reasons you’re unhappy (and 75 solutions)

1. Desire – “When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself – Oh yes, I already have everything that I really need.” – Dalai Lama

2. Loneliness – “Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.” – Paul Tillich

3. Materialism – “An attitude to life which seeks fulfillment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth – in short, materialism – does not fit into this world because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.” – E.F. Schumacher

4. You wish you were someone else – “The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.” – Lao Tzu

5. You don’t make time – “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Michael Jordan

6. You surround yourself with the wrong people (unhappy people) – “Surround yourself with good people. Whether they’re the best or not, people are capable of learning if they’ve got good hearts and good souls.” – Kid Rock

7. You haven’t found your purpose – “Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity since it is the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.” – Ayn Rand

8. You compare yourself to others – “When you stop comparing what is right here and now with what you wish were, you can begin to enjoy what is.” – Cheri Huber

9. You’re being someone you’re not – “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest achievement.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

10. You’re stuck in the past – “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

11. You’re stuck in the future – “The future starts today, not tomorrow.” Pope John Paul II

12. You’re unhealthy – “The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years.” – Deepak Chopra

13. You’re negative – “Quit thinking that you must halt before the barrier of your inner negativity. You need not. You can crash through… whenever we see a negative state that is where we can destroy it.” – Vernon Howard

14. You’re irresponsible – “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

15. You’re a perfectionist – “I’m a perfectionist. I can’t help it, I get really upset with myself if I fail in the least.” – Justin Timberlake

16. You’re afraid of failure – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

17. You’re insecure – “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” Erich Fromm

18. You’re in debt – “A man in debt is so far a slave.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

19. You seek validation – “Choose yourself.” – Seth Godin

20. You have a get mentality – “A few people, not many, but a few, take. They take the best education they can get, pushing teachers for more, finding things to do, exploring non-defined niches. They take more courses than the minimum, they invent new projects and they show up with questions. What have you taken today?” – Seth Godin

21. You don’t pick yourself – “You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what to do. And you are the guy who’ll describe where to go.” – Dr. Seuss

22. You’re unskilled – I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability, or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.” – Dean Koontz

23. You neglect personal relationships – “Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.” – Barbara Smith

24. You procrastinate – “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” – Lord Chesterfield

25. You don’t give enough – “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

26. You don’t receive enough – “Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don’t go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won’t laugh at you.” – Jim Rohn

27. You try to control everything – “As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” – Emmanuel Teney

28. You hold grudges – “I’ve had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.” – Buddy Hackett

29. You play by the rules – “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” Katharine Hepburn

30. You’re unrealistic – “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” – Walt Disney

31. Your professional expectations are out of line with reality – “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu

32. You’re not learning – “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford

33. You have unrealized dreams – “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill

34. You’re bored – “The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.” – Susan Sontag

35.You’re too busy – “If work and leisure are soon to be subordinated to this one utopian principle – absolute busyness – then utopia and melancholy will come to coincide: an age without conflict will dawn, perpetually busy – and without consciousness.” Gunther Grass

36. You don’t sleep enough – “I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” – Ernest Hemingway

37. You don’t spend enough time alone – “Solitude is the place of purification.” – Martin Buber

38. You spend too much time alone – “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” – Kurt Vonnegut

39. You’re acting (you pretend to be happy when you aren’t) – “I write from my soul. This is the reason that critics don’t hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am.” – Paulo Coelho

40. You’re jealous (of people who are happy) – “Don’t waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.” – Mary Schmitt

41. You don’t take the time to actually set goals – “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

42. You never act on your dreams – All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

43. You’re dependent – “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” Denis Waitley

44. You can’t accept happiness (don’t think you deserve it) – “We all of us deserve happiness or none of us does.” – Mary Gordon

45. You’re always one step away (you think the next step will finally do it for you) – “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” – Erich Fromm

46. You ignore opportunities – “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Jefferson

47. You’re complacent – “Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.” – Aesop

48. You hate your job – “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

49. You’re with the wrong person – “People are not perfect… very often the relationships that are strongest are those where people have worked through big crises, but they’ve had to work through them. So the challenge to us is to work through that.” – Patricia Hewitt

50. You have no spiritual life – “Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” – Buddha

51. You do not provide any value (to others) – “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

52. You’re lazy – “Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.” – Lord Chesterfield

53. You have no excitement – “If I had my way, if I was lucky enough, if I could be on the brink my entire life – that great sense of expectation and excitement without the disappointment – that would be the perfect state.” – Cate Blanchett

54. You don’t belong – “By building relations we create a source of love and personal pride and belonging that makes living in a chaotic world easier.” – Susan Lieberman

55. You have no real friends – “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey

56. You’re afraid of yourself – “I’m sure not afraid of success and I’ve learned not to be afraid of failure. The only thing I’m afraid of now is of being someone I don’t like much.” – Anna Quindlen

57.You mistake structure for control – “As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” – Emmanuel Teney

58. You don’t live where you are – “Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” – Denis Waitley

59. You over-complicate life – “Truth is, I’ll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candor.” – Tom Hanks

60. You don’t focus – “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins

61. You care too much about what others think – “I think we all have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, whether it’s shyness, insecurity, anxiety, whether it’s a physical block, and the story of a person overcoming that block to their best self. It’s truly inspiring because I think all of us are engaged in that every day.” – Tom Hooper

62. You lack gratitude – “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

63. You don’t relax – “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts

64. You don’t take risks – “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. – T.S. Elliot

65. You limit yourself – “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” – Helen Keller

66. You limit others – “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

67. You’re impatient – “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” Robert Schuller

68. You don’t have a hobby – “Artists usually don’t make all that much money, and they often keep their artistic hobby despite the money rather than due to it.” – Linus Torvalds

69. You commute too far – “I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have money problems. I have lunch with my wife at home. I don’t have to commute, so I have much more time with my family.” Kazuo Ishiguro

70. You don’t like your town/city – “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” – George Burns

71. You don’t have a dog – “Any dog under 50 lbs. is a cat, and cats are worthless.” – Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation

72. You equate comfort with happiness – “Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.” – Dean Karnazes

73. You’re self-absorbed – “To attempt to advise conceited people is like whistling against the wind.” – Thomas Hood

74. You’re out of shape – “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – John F. Kennedy

75. You don’t love yourself – “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

10 ways to release your creative spirit

creatrivityFebruary 8, 2013 – Everyone is born with the ability to be creative; some of us just relish it more than others. Whether you’re a budding Rembrandt or a seasoned financial analyst, we all need to break free from mental ruts, shake things up and spark new ideas. Here are 10 tried and true methods that help me.

1. Listen to different style music than you normally would. Classical works for me not only because I have trouble concentrating on what I’m doing if I listen to music with lyrics (I often want to sing along) but I get lost in the melody of classical music and I begin to daydream, which is always good for finding that creative spark.

2. Be positive. We are all capable of doing great things; we just need to recognize that ability in ourselves and practice, practice, practice. Also, banishing negative thoughts makes you feel better, which gives you a natural creative boost.

3. Do something different. A change of pace is good for you and it shakes up your brain cells. Go for a walk, visit a new place and talk to people you don’t know. Urban areas, like center city Philadelphia, for example, are great locations to people watch, and observe the unexpected and interesting. Doing something different often gives you a new perspective, which opens you to new ideas.

4. Brainstorm. When I worked in marketing and advertising, we had a rule that there were no bad ideas when brainstorming. That’s because even the lesser ideas could spark brilliant ones. Brainstorming not only helps you come up with a list of ideas, but it also helps you pinpoint which ones are best.

5. Be prepared. Carry a small notebook and pen with you wherever you go, and keep one by your bed in case you want to jot down your dreams. That way, you’re always ready for a creative idea when inspiration strikes. Like brainstorming, this may lead to some ideas that are less than perfect, but they also may help you strike creative gold.

6. Read. Reading always provides for the possibility of new ideas, so I try to take in as much as I can. Reading is also a good exercise for the brain. If you keep your brain in shape, it will be good to you when you need it most.

7. Take risks. Being creative is often far more interesting if it’s a little risky. My blog posts that have garnered the most attention are those that I felt a little unsure about at first, but in the spirit of taking a risk I published anyway.

8. Act like a kid. No one is more creative than a child. If you have children, you’ve probably learned that by now. Even if you don’t have children, play on swings, finger paint, or and blow bubbles (my favorite). Acting like a child makes me happy, which like being positive, is a boost to my creative spirit.

9. Join a creative group. Nearly every community has their share of film, reading, writing or even knitting clubs to join. Visiting with others who share your creative passion on a regular basis can be motivating. Plus, it provides an excellent means of gaining encouragement from others in the group.

10. Be curious. Somehow along the line, curiosity got a bad name. I asked so many questions when I was growing up, my mother often asked if I was writing a book. Sure, she was being sarcastic, but the mere suggestion made me actually want to do just that. And it all stemmed from curiosity. I continue to ask a lot of questions as an adult, especially if I am interested in something. And I haven’t killed a cat yet.

A New Year’s Resolution to Last a Lifetime

December 27, 2011 — While most people are making New Year’s resolutions to exercise more and eat less, consider committing yourself to making 2012 the year you shape up your finances.

Trim Debts

Excess debt is one of the biggest obstacles in financial planning. For instance, you may have $5,000 in a certificate of deposit earning 6 percent, but if you owe $5,000 to credit cards at 15 percent interest, your cost savings are still 9 percent in the red. Consider paying off your high-interest debt by transferring it to a lower interest loan until the amount is paid off.

One of the best loans to use for debt consolidation is a home equity loan or line of credit. You can not only get a low interest rate, but the interest you pay on a home equity loan is most likely tax deductible.

Set Your Financial Goals

Just as a builder must use blueprints to construct a building, you need to follow an investment plan in order to build your nest egg. Your plan should include both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals focus on more concrete objectives, like investing $100 a month in a mutual fund. Long-term goals relate to more abstract objectives, such as saving enough to retire when you are 55.

Treat Your Savings as a Bill

Most people pay their bills and save what’s left over. That strategy is fine, as long as there is something left over. A better system is to regularly save or invest a portion of your money every payday. Even better, many employer-sponsored 401(k)s make your investments automatically. Or, you can put a portion of each paycheck into a savings with direct deposit.

Making a few small changes in your finances in 2012 may add up to big savings for you down the road.