Saturday, December 29, 2012

How to Write Family and Local History your family memoirs or recording the history of a town or village can be immensely rewarding.

However, when tackling your chosen subject it's essential not to attempt to cover too much ground in one narrative. Instead, try to focus on an individual event or episode in time. In some cases, writers have told the story of a special house or building, or chosen to chronicle a specific era, when something significant occurred.

If you are writing about a long period of time, it's important not to confuse the reader by jumping back and forth too much; following chronological order is usually the safest option. If you do have a large volume of detailed information to impart, list your references and research at the end of your work so interested readers know where to find further facts.

To give your story a wider appeal, you should research the broader social scene of the time. Describe the transport, food, fashion, art and sport of that age. This places your personal story firmly in the context of the time in which it's set.

When you recount your family history, add character to the piece by sharing funny anecdotes or unusual sayings used by family members. Even quaint household tips or favourite recipes can provide the reader with a unique insight in to an earlier time.

Add additional flavour and atmosphere by describing the noises and smells that would have been around at that time - the harsh clanking of steam engines, the billowing smoke and fumes from burning coal.

If you don't know where to start, a simple but effective way to begin your tale is to set the first scene in the present day. Show the family or village as it is today, before drawing back and contrasting it to a scene from earlier times.

An excellent, but trickier, way to spice up a historical account is to turn it in to fiction. A lively imagination is required to pull this off successfully, but it can work really well. Fictional histories are especially popular with children as it helps them to engage with an otherwise difficult subject. They are a terrific way of communicating history to a younger generation.

The simplest means of conveying historical events this way is to show them through the viewpoint of a single fictional character, such as the history of a house seen through the eyes of the chamber maid or the butler.

Another technique is it to recreate a historical account with a few fictional characters. However, it's best not to bring in too many personalities unless you want to turn your personal account into a full-blown historical saga.

Putting yourself in the shoes of your fictional creations will help you to conjure up images from times gone by - and it's also great fun to write!

Michelle Salter - Freelance Writer and Copywriter.

Michelle Salter is an accomplished freelance writer, with numerous articles published in national magazines. As a regular contributor to My Weekly magazine, she has written extensively on the subject of gardening, nature and wildlife.

She is also an experienced copywriter, providing web copy, blog posts, press releases and promotional literature for B2B and B2C markets.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Having Fun Raising Kids

Most of the people think that they can no longer have fun once they have children. But, it is not true. Sure, your days of having drinks at the local nightclub, going to concerts and hanging out with friends into the wee hours of the morning are gone but there are better and more beneficial ways to have fun as a family.

Raising kids can certainly be much more fun than more adult activities. This helpful parenting advice will prove to you that the fun is just beginning once you start raising kids.

Loving Those Littles

You will need to adjust your playtime and fun activities to coincide with the appropriate child development stages. Very young children really enjoy lying on the floor and playing with Hot Wheels cars or Barbie dolls.

The parent should think back to when he or she thought this was the greatest thing next to sliced bread and jump into the fun. Get down on the floor and play like a kid. This is one of the tips for parents while they raise kids.

Be Inventive

Raising kids today can be difficult because they are attracted and attached to technology from an early age. Taking the time to be inventive when it comes to playtime is one of the best tips for parents. Young ones in early child development stages might use their imaginations to recreate a simple refrigerator box into a teddy bear home or construction site for Tonka trucks.

Think back to your childhood and relive it, in a good way with your kids. Parenting child can help you to harness your inner child and enjoy playing again while strengthening the child parent relationship.

Think Like a Kid

There isn't a single person who didn't pretend to be an actor or dance around their room pretending to be a rock star. People of all ages love to strut their stuff and show off. Raising kids gives you the opportunity to look silly and sound terrible but have a blast doing it. You can turn on the radio (G rated music please) and dance and sing along with the music.

Kids of all ages love to do this and if you actually have a karaoke machine, that's even better. Simply letting loose and having fun is one of the better tips for parents. The kids will always remember daddy dancing in the living room or mommy singing a song from a Disney movie. Not only are you creating fun but you are creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Get Your Game On

Board games have been popular for many, many years and with the technology of today, all too many people raising kids would rather hand the children their cell phones tn play with than take the time to play together. Shut off the cell phones, video games and iPods and get back to basic. Choose a game that is appropriate for the child development stages of your children, grab some yummy snacks and sit down as a family to play a board game.

Many parents do their best to either allow the children to win or are so competitive that they make the game a blowout. This will disappoint the kids. It's best to choose chance games such as Chutes and Ladders, Candyland or Yahtzee. It isn't fair to expect a child to have a chance at winning if cunning, knowledge and experience is involved. Play fair and have fun with your kids and you won't miss out on anything.

Noah Brown is a freelance writer who writes extensively on child parent relationships and offer parenting advice to live a healthy, happy family life. She encourages her readers to read mother quotes and watch motivating parenting videos which offer parenting help and teach kids to be good human beings and be successful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How Do You Choose the Right Bicycle? is a great sport that can provide much exercise and fun at the same time. It can be done on your own or with a friend or spouse or family. There are a few things you may want to take into consideration when choosing the right bike for you. The information provided here may help simplify your decision by balancing your needs and budget. Expert staff and a wide range of bike types (backed by great manufacturers such as Trek and Giant) can help achieving your goal of choosing the right bicycle. A great warranty and expert service department are also very important.

Some factors to consider when picking the right bike for you are frequency, terrain, and use.

Frequency: How often do you envision riding your brand new bicycle?Twice per month, strictly weekends, or daily? This may help give you a general idea on how much bike you really need and perhaps help shape how much you want or need to invest. If you are going to use it to ride around the block a couple of times with your kid twice a month, you would probably agree that you do not need to spend $2,000. By the same token, if you are going to be using your bike every day and want the performance and longevity, you likely are going to want to invest more than $300. What type of terrain is in the area you live or where you plan on cycling? Will you primarily be riding on the street (is the paved road smooth or full of bumps and pot holes?), gravel, mud, hard-packed dirt, full of hills, straight (level terrain) or a combination of one or more of these. The answer to this will help determine what type of bike you need and what features you might want to look for including how you want to customize or add to your bike. If the path you will be mostly using your bike on is paved, but has some bumps and a few pot holes and some patches of light gravel, you may want to consider a hybrid bike with front suspension or mountain bike with semi-slick tires swapped onto them. This will help ensure you have a smoother, more comfortable ride.

If you are going to be riding on rough terrain with many bumps, tree stumps, and possibly rocks, (hard-core mountain biking) then the ideal bike for you may very well be a full-suspension mountain bike that includes both front and rear shock absorption systems.

If the terrain you will be riding on is miles and miles of 100% smooth paved road, then the bike for you might be a road or racing bike to give you the speed, smoothness and comfort you need. Accessories and components you may consider would be a comfortable seat, water bottle cage, bottle, clip-less pedals, cycling shorts and jersey.

Use: Will you be using your bike for commuting purposes, fun, exercise, long distance, racing or combination of one or more of these uses? Do you want to be the next Lance Armstrong and will you be doing long distance, hard-core road cycling and doing it often? If this is the case you may need a higher-end road bike that will give you the lighter-weight (yet strong) frame and performance components that will increase the life span of your bike, comfort and enjoyment of your ride, and the most important factor of helping to increase your chances to stay ahead of the pack.If this is not your cup of tea but you are more of a recreational rider around your neighbourhood or on a light trail in the park or path through the forest, then a hybrid (essentially a cross between a road bike and mountain bike) may be the bike for you. Hybrid or Cross bikes can provide much comfort for you with features that may include a suspension seat post, high-rise handlebars, adjustable stem and smooth-tread tires.

Of course the general rule of thumb applies to bikes, and that is you get what you pay for, and the quality, longevity and performance of a bike increases as the investment increases. A bicycle store with a good assortment and expertise to help choose the right bike for you that meets both your needs and your budget is key. Cycling can provide you limitless exercise, fun, and general good feeling experience.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Women Who Are Going Places Start at Hollins University University's slogan, "Women Who Are Going Places Start at Hollins," has endured because it best captures what this independent liberal arts institution means year in and year out to its students. Hollins has been a motivating force for women to go places creatively, intellectually, and even geographically since it was founded as Virginia's first chartered women's college more than 160 years ago. As Hollins graduate and Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard has said, Hollins is a place "where friendships thrive, minds catch fire, careers begin, and hearts open to a world of possibility."

The university's approach to education is simple yet effective: Teach students to think and encourage exploration and discovery. "The Hollins environment is especially conducive to learning and creativity," commented one student. "The academic experience downplays competitiveness and stresses the benefits of discussion, interaction, and support from both professors and fellow students."
Added a recent graduate, "I could personally experiment while learning, and I got a lot of different ideas and perspectives from the people who taught me. My professors were a constant source of encouragement, always assuring me, 'You can do this, you can do this,' and that made all the difference for me."

Incoming students find that they are as much colleagues with their professors as they are pupils. As longtime English and creative writing professor Richard Dillard explained, "We are all students and teachers alike." One of the hallmarks of the Hollins faculty is their accessibility; many professors live on campus, take late-night calls, include students in their research and writing, and have open-door office policies.

"From the first time I visited campus, they made me feel welcome and took every opportunity to get to know me," a student said about the faculty. "Since I enrolled, I've received a lot of individual attention and have benefited greatly from the small class sizes." Hollins' student/faculty ratio is 9 to 1.
Hollins offers majors in 29 fields of study. While perhaps best known for its creative writing program (described by "Creative Writing in America" as "pound for pound, the most productive writing program in America"), the university also features strong programs in the visual and performing arts and the social and physical sciences. "The acceptance rate of students from Hollins into veterinary and medical schools is phenomenal," said a biology major.

To complement its major fields of study, Hollins in 2001 introduced an innovative new general education program called "Education Through Skills and Perspectives" (ESP). It is designed to help students see the world in different ways and allows them to apply knowledge in practical ways.
"ESP opens doors to the perspectives and skills that will make students more employable or more successful in whatever ventures they take in life," explained Hollins Provost Wayne Markert. "Employers and graduate schools want students who learned to think and to do."

ESP focuses on the acquisition of knowledge across the curriculum. Students learn to apply this knowledge through a skill set of writing successfully, thinking critically, reasoning quantitatively, expressing themselves effectively, and becoming adept technologically. While students must complete courses over four years that satisfy all perspective and skills areas, the emphasis in ESP is helping each student find a field that is rewarding and enjoyable.

Hollins encourages its students to pursue learning opportunities outside the classroom - and even outside the country. It was among the first colleges in the nation to offer an international study abroad program, recognizing that the global nature of business, technology and international affairs makes learning in another country an increasingly vital component of education. Today, more than half of Hollins' students - 10 times the national average - study abroad in such places as Paris, London, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Greece, and Spain. "Without question, my year in Paris was the most important year of my life in terms of personal development," said a former study abroad student. "I look back now and think, 'What would I be like if I hadn't gone?' It's amazing how much that one experience changed my outlook on life."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

From Functional Oblivion to Renaissance

A year ago, I decided to give up playing tennis as my body was revolting, read that whichever way you want.

Over the last 10 years, arthroscopies on both knees identified the beginnings of osteoarthritis and the medical advice at the time, was to give up playing tennis to slow down the rate of damage.

Last spring, when both my ankles started being painful during and after tennis, it looked as though I would have to take that advice, though difficult, as I earn my living as a tennis coach.

Ignoring the financial implications for the moment, my recreational options also now seemed limited, leaving golf ( for me a hack, a walk, looking for a ball, etc) and walking, which although enjoyable, would always come a poor second to the challenges of ball striking, at least in my mind.

We inhabit three dimensional bodies, we are driven to perform tasks(function), in all three planes of motion, working with the forces of gravity, ground reaction, mass and momentum.

Functional oblivion seems an apt description as I could see no obvious solution, other than to give up the activities( functions) I could no longer manage.

Fortunately for me that proved not to be the case, I play more and better tennis these days, my range and speed of movement have improved dramatically and the stiffness and soreness I used to experience after activity, are now much less and manageable, a true functional renaissance.

My understanding of the reasons for my slide into functional oblivion was that it started slowly and was a likely combination of; loss of fitness over time, poor preparation for activity, weight gain a.k.a. life style choices ( I ate and drank too much), and not getting any younger.

The biomechanical reality, however, was that my knees had been taking the strain of most of my activity (functions), to compensate for range of motion problems I had with my ankle joints, my calf muscles, my hamstrings and hips, to name but a few.

A biomechanical function (task) is a three dimensional chain reaction. I didn't know at the time, which of my muscle and joint problems was the cause, but the result was a breakdown in the chain, during function, which exposed my knees to increased strain and subsequent damage.

Dorsiflexion ( bending of the lower leg at the ankle) was inhibited in my case and is likely to have been influenced by the semi permanent eversion (outside edge) of my right foot, through landing and take of, leading to problems at both joints at the ankle.

It wasn't necessary for me to understand the causes in detail, as I had direct experience of the outcomes; the area above the attachment of the achilles to the heel (Calcanean tendon) was tender and sore, my calf muscles were tight especially the medial portion (Inside) of the gastrocnemius, my hip flexors and abdominals were weak, making a chain reaction of muscles and joints in function, in all three planes of motion, near impossible.

All biomechanical performance in functions, whether simply walking or using complex motor skills in games like tennis, require a chain reaction in the neuromuscular-skeletal system
Over time, I had become more and more aware of these deficiencies, which led to fewer peak performances and increasing levels of stiffness and soreness in my knees and ankles.

The other significant by product was a negative and antagonistic demeanor, some might say no change there then, but declining function does little for your outlook when the only thing traveling fast in your life is the approach of your sixth decade.

It's been my experience in life, that we find many of the answers to our problems, seemingly by accident.

I was introduced to an Applied Functional Science therapist, one of only a handful in the UK, by a tennis client of mine and my functional renaissance started there and then.

My rehabilitation has led to my personal study of Applied Functional Science and a continuing interest in developing my fitness for function.

This has not been a silver bullet cure, it is an ongoing live project to regain function and manage the inevitable decline inherent in the process of aging.

The damage to my knees cannot be undone (joint replacement surgery is not for me) but my ongoing involvement with Applied Functional Science methods mean that I am now fit for a whole range of functions and the much much lower levels of stiffness and soreness I suffer, suggest damage limitation.

My daily (practically) stretching and strengthening routines in all three planes of motion, working with the forces of gravity, ground reaction, mass and momentum mean that I can work more effectively, play as much tennis as I want and to a higher level than before, I can play golf (badly but improving) walk and do all the other tasks and activities that are everyday life, with renewed zest, vigor and performance, a true renaissance.

As I approach my sixth decade, a three month physical check, last week, measured my metabolic age at 44 (down from 48), my muscle mass was up 10 lbs, my body fat was down 3.6% with my weight remaining constant.

Without dieting (I did experiment with gluten free, a la Djokovic, for a short while), I lost nearly 30 lbs over 6 months last year and have sustained that over the winter, normally a time of weight gain for me (less tennis, more comforting winter food and a little (more) red wine), using Applied Functional Science based routines.

I think it's an inevitable that some people, faced with declining powers, will look for ways to arrest or reverse that decline, some looking for renaissance and others for nirvana.

For me it was neither as I was more in tune with the notion of growing old gracefully, but it was becoming obvious that my loss of function was premature and definitely not graceful.

There are several industries devoted to helping us part with money to achieve one notion or another of nirvana.

In my opinion, based on personal experience, Applied Functional Science is not one of them, there are no pills and potions, miracle exercises, or fanciful notions, instead it is truth based, evidence based and scientifically based.

Applied Functional Science at the Gray Institute, is a more than 30 year study and understanding(incomplete) of how the body was designed to work. The practitioners don't claim to have all the answers but they appear to be are asking the right questions.

I have, over time, been treated by orthopedic consultants, physiotherapists, pilates instructors, fitness trainers, osteopaths and masseuses all with no lasting benefit and at some cost.

Whatever your functional goals are, you may benefit from following my personal journey and seeing what Applied Functional Science has done for me.

I should make clear at this stage that Applied Functional Science is for the benefit of all, whatever age and whether you are an athlete in your prime or a slightly broken down weekend warrior like me.
AFS therapists (GIFT fellows) work in rehab, therapy and with peak performance athletes in a growing number of sports and have just launched a cooperation with NIKE for golf instruction.

I should also make clear that although I have a foundation level certificate in Applied Functional Science, this article and all my other videos and blogs are intended for information only and do not constitute medical advice conclusion, I challenge you to follow the links listed below, for a video supported blog of my journey and to then let me know whether I have proved the assertion, in the title of this piece (from functional oblivion to renaissance), as accurate or merely fanciful.

If I have really sparked an interest you can follow my blog as I continue to explain the Applied Functional Science routines and functional equipment I use.