Wednesday, September 6, 2023

"Education Tips: Getting Your Child Ready for College During Their Senior Year”

 "Education Tips: Getting Your Child Ready for College During Their Senior Year”

As we speak, high schools across the United States have already begun their year. Now, the juniors are poised to take their place as the mighty seniors. While being a senior is a cool thing, the question emerges as to whether they are ready to take their rightful place in the college of their choice in one year’s time, or even longer.

For parents, they begin to panic early. For some reason around this time of year, many parents look at their child across the table and think: “Oh my, they are going to be a senior this coming year. We aren’t ready for this!”

Parents, don't panic! Here are some education tips you may want to discuss with your soon-to-be seniors before you totally panic. Plus, you parents who have students transitioning from 8th grade to 9th and those who are sophomores and juniors ought to listen up because it would be wise for you to begin thinking about these things now and begin working on them right away.

Scholarships/Financial Aid—Most, if not all, parents worry about financial aid because the cost of a college education increases every single year. Every college and university has financial aid available to their students. The key to success is starting out early to make sure you understand what this all entails. Begin by checking with your child’s high school counselor. Almost weekly, they receive scholarship updates from a plethora of sources, including colleges and universities. You may even want your child to check with the counselor on a weekly basis. Additionally, contact the various colleges your child is interested in. All colleges now have websites that focus on scholarships. Be acutely aware of the financial deadlines and meet them. There is nothing more depressing than missing a deadline for a scholarship that had your child’s name written all over it. Also, check around your community for scholarships your child might be eligible for. You might be surprised what your local credit union, bank, farmer’s organization, community foundations and clubs, employer, etc. have available for their local students. Check out websites like and sign up. Be proactive. If your child wants to go to college, then having the money to go is imperative. In my opinion, student loans are always the very last option!

Classes—Visit with the high school counselor to make sure your child has earned the appropriate credits for the classes he or she may have taken. Every state and almost every school have varying graduation requirements. If you have moved from one state to the next, checking with your local school is imperative. Additionally, if your child is taking dual-credit or dual-enrollment courses that earn him or her college credit, be sure they finish these courses and are transcripted. You will be amazed how much money you will save if your child does not have to take them in college. Encourage your child to do the best he or she can during the senior year--any year, for that matter--because it really does count in the long run.

ACT/SAT—By the beginning of a senior year, most high school juniors have already taken the ACT or SAT. If not, you will need to schedule one as soon as you can. Most high schools can do the scheduling for you. If a student feels he or she has not done the best, he or she can take it over again. Be sure, though, to review the scores of the last ACT/SAT test and study those areas in order to enhance the score. But if you miss the deadlines, many colleges have alternative assessments that your child can take to determine whether he or she is eligible to attend. Check with your college to determine what that assessment might be.

Four-year, two-year, or technical college—For some, choosing between a four-and a two-year college may not be an issue. For parents on a budget, the choice may be more acute. Four-year colleges and universities tend to cost more in the short and in the long run. Two-year colleges or community colleges are historically less expensive. Technical colleges have programs that are shorter and more specific to a trade or job and are often less expensive. Your financial aid package may determine which school to go to. Some parents may believe that community colleges are inferior to a four-year college. The good news is community college students do as well as or even better than their four-year counterparts at the four-year institution once they graduate. Do not rule out community colleges and technical colleges. But do make sure that you check out the financial aid packages and the transferability of the credits and certifications of all institutions. Bottom line, though, hinges on choosing the best college for your son or daughter.

Community service—This is a big one. Many scholarships—maybe even most of them—require students to participate in community service throughout their high school careers. Thankfully, community service is easy to achieve because there are numerous community and church organizations that need help from young people. The best thing to do is start in the 8th or 9th grade and develop a community service model for your child. Showing a long-term commitment to one or two organizations is a good thing. Obtaining two or three hours here and there demonstrates that the child is not too committed to doing consistent community services. Plus, when young people perform community services, they usually impress their supervisors of the directors of the project. In the long run, they will be able to solicit a letter of recommendation from these people when applying for scholarships or college admissions to the college of their choice. Maybe even more important, some of these volunteer opportunities may translate into future jobs, either during the summer months or even when the student graduates from college. The most important thing is that students choose community service opportunities for which they have interest.

Grades—The fact of the matter is this: grades are important, no matter what anyone says. If students do not do well in their classes, they may end up having to enroll in remedial course in college. These remedial courses still cost money; they do not apply toward graduation; and they may impede graduating on time. Students must always attempt to do well in their coursework. If they are struggling, parents, be sure to obtain a tutor or meet with the teacher to make sure your student is doing everything possible to earn good grades.

Internships—Even in high school, students can opt for internships, either paid or unpaid. In fact, more and more high schools are helping their students capture prime internships. Internships help students experience a potential career, develop real-life skills, learn how to work with others, demonstrate to the organization what skills they do have, and create future connections. Overall, internships in high school and college can only help students gain greater insight into themselves and what they might be good at doing.

College visits—It is always a good idea to know something about the college or university you are going to attend. Often, though, a college visit may not be feasible because of the distance from your home. Colleges know that. Thus, they have developed incredible virtual tours and information videos for students. Take advantage of them. Additionally, colleges and universities can schedule live chat sessions with counselors, students, and administrators. They will accommodate your schedules. Ultimately, students need to determine if they are going to be a good fit.

Overall, parents, it is not too late to begin the process. Try not to feel stressed or anxious. There are way too many avenues to obtain the information you need. You may want to start with your child’s high school counselor or a counselor or admissions representative at the local college or university. Do not be afraid to ask lots and lots of questions. If you do, you and your child will be prepared for the senior year and beyond.

If you need additional help, please contact me at I am available to help!

Monday, July 10, 2023

“Making a Difference: Sew-n-Sews help out one stitch at a time”

“Making a Difference: Sew-n-Sews Help Out One Stitch at a Time”
By Darrel L. Hammon

From an article published in the Provo Daily Herald, July 8, 2023. (

Doris Wattleworth was 87-years old when she asked Kathy Gover, a Pleasant Grove neighbor and former teacher, to help her learn to quilt. “I was amazed,” said Kathy, “that someone at that age wanted to learn how to quilt, and I decided to help.”

From left, the "Sew-n-Sews," Char Barker, Doris Wattleworth, Carol Morley,
Karen Sommer, Kathy Gover pose in this undated photo.

Together, they set up a piece of plywood on a bed in Doris’ house. Then, Doris purchased some basic quilting tools, material, and cutting mats. An old box springs stacked against one of the walls became the design wall. Doris’ sewing machine was an old one but was functional for what she wanted to do.

Carol Morley posing with one of her quilts in this undated photo

A short time later, Doris sold her house, and they moved the sewing equipment to Kathy’s house. Pretty soon, they had three sewing machines going. Kathy’s husband built a tall cutting table, and things started to roll.

They were having so much fun, Kathy decided to reach out to others who wanted to learn or enhance their sewing and quilting skills. Soon, one by one, the current group of six women joined the sewing and quilting group. Carol Morley joined the group after her husband passed away. Char Barker wanted to find a way to help children.

Debbie Weatherhead attended a women’s meeting at Church where Kathy was attending and noticed that Debbie had a quilted bag. “Oh, you quilt,” said Kathy. The conversation launched into quilting and sewing. Kathy’s parting words to Debbie were: “ Come on over and check us out.” She did and joined.

One day in 2017, they decided to name the group and toyed with a variety of names. They all liked the phrase “Sew-n-Sews” and began calling themselves the “Sew-n-Sews” group because they were going to sew this or sew that.

The Sew-n-Sews meet every Tuesday at Kathy’s, excluding holidays. They sew, piece together quilts, enhance their quilting skills, and have fun doing it. Lunch is always part of the gathering!

From left, the "Sew-n-Sews," Doris Wattleworth, Kathy Gover,
and Carol Morley 
 pose in this undated photo.

 All Sew-n-Sews are retired and felt a sense of loss after they left the workforce. They wanted to keep making a difference. Now, they are happy because making quilts allows them to be more creative, learn together, and use their talents. “Plus,” said Char. “It keeps our brains stay alive and active.”

From left, the "Sew-n-Sews," Carol Morley, Kathy Gover, Debbie Weatherhead,
and Char Barker, Char Barker, 
pose  with their "Monster" quilt in this undated photo.

“It’s really a learning experience,” explained Carol. “I had different sizes of material, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to use it. When I asked the others, they said, ‘why not do this or that’. That gave me confidence to continue with my project, and it turned out great.”

“For me,” said Kathy, “we have been learning a lot together. At the beginning, some of us weren’t totally skilled in piecing quilts, but each week, we learned how to iron the seams correctly, how to cut material in certain shapes, and create beautiful quilts. Also, Doris keeps us laughing and sings to us as we work!”

Kathy Gover poses with one of unfinished pillowcases.

They were sewing and making quilts for personal use when the Green House Center for Growth & Learning (The Green House Center) organization that works with children with emotional and educational challenges and people in crisis reached out and asked for their help.
Since becoming the Sew-n-Sews, they have worked mainly with the Green House Center. Later, they branched out to other organizations, including the Festival of Trees, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Helping Hands, and others in making and donating 40” x 60” lap quilts and pillowcases.

Unfinished quilt tops

 “When we have finished about 40 quilts, we take them to the Green House Center,” the Sew-n-Sews explained. “Usually, when we stop by with a wagon or two full of lap quilts and pillowcases, everyone stops to admire the them.”

Initially, the Sew-n-Sews purchased the material on their own. After a while, though, people began donating material and batting to help them with their hundreds of quilts.

The lap quilts require about four to five yards of fabric to make and are donated to the Green House Center. Eight-ten yards are required for the twin quilts and are donated to the Sleep in Heavenly Peace and other organizations. Over the last six years, they have created, sewn, and donated hundreds of lap quilts and pillowcases.

Boxes and tubs of material and quilting supplies

 The Sew-n-Sews expressed immense joy in making and donating lap quilts to different organizations. When asked about their work, they shared so many feelings about friendship, learning different skills, going beyond themselves, serving others, and accomplishing goals of making something for someone else.

“One of our biggest disappointments, though,” said Doris, “is knowing that we cannot do more.” On the other hand, Kathy feels a different type of disappointment. “We are all reluctantly realizing our limitations and have begun to slow down, but we keep doing what we can to help others.”

From left, Kathy Gover, Doris Wattleworth, Carol Morley,
Karen Sommer, and Char Barker
 pose in this undated photo.

 While sewing is losing its appeal, the Sew-n-Sews want the legacy of sewing and quilting to continue. Kathy’s plan is simple. “So, if I can teach people how to quilt and sew, then their children might learn.” Two of the Sew-n-Sews, Debbie and Karen, both from Provo, have begun teaching younger women how to sew.

Seldom if ever do the Sew-n-Sews meet the children and teenagers who receive the quilts, especially those donated to the Greenhouse Center. One woman who had several adopted grandchildren approached some of the Sew-n-Sews at a wedding reception and said that some of them had received quilts, cherished them, and wanted their picture taken with the women who made them.

More tubs and boxes of material and other quilting things

 “We realize that many of the children who receive our quilts have not ever received comfortable things in their lives,” offered Kathy. “We love helping children. It touches our hearts when we know they are going to children who need them. We believe these quilts give soft, loving comfort.”

But sometimes they do capture a glance. “One organization showed me a book with pictures of children who had received the quilts,” explained Char. “Three of them were mine. Tears flowed, and I rejoiced knowing that my quilts were helping people.”

Karen Sommer looking on as Carol Morley shows a quilt 

 Doris mentioned that so many people think that quilts just grow magically. “They don’t realize how much thought and consideration go into making quilts,” she said. “When we make a quilt, we are sharing feelings and telling them stories.”

Lots of pins are needed for quilting

 “We put so much love in every stitch!” declared Carol. “I think you could say that each quilt is stitched in love!”

“For me,” said Char, “I can’t die yet because I have too much fabric to sew.”

Lots of material for quilts organized by color

The Sew-n-Sews are extremely organized. In one room in Kathy’s sewing space, which encompasses almost her entire basement, are shelves and shelves, stacked against every inch of wall space and touching the ceiling, filled with carefully labeled boxes of materials by color, sizes of materials, and patterns.

For Karen Sommer, many tender mercies occur when planning out the quilts, even though initially she did not know who needed it.

Karen explains the closet full of quilting material

“I wanted to make a quilt, and Kathy gave me a pattern, and I began making one,” explained Karen. “It kept coming to me that someone needs this. When I asked Debbie about the quilt, she asked what I was going to do with it. The moment she asked that, I knew I needed to give it to a woman in my church congregation who was going through chemo. I felt really good about giving it to someone who needed it.”

Material organized by color

 “These quilts wrap people in love,” said Doris. Over the years, the Sew-n-Sews have wrapped thousands of children and others in beautiful quilts that tell stories in Utah, Ukraine, and other places.

The Sew-n-Sews make quilts and pillowcases but do not use social media to promote themselves, but they do know they are making a difference in many lives.

Displays for materials and quilting things

“My sewing buddies are my best friends,” declared Debbie. “Together, we make a difference and connections by creating something special to give to people. Everything we do is for service.”

The Sew-n-Sews are happy to receive donations of quilting materials and batting. If you are interested in starting a sewing or quilting group to help those most in need or have quilting materials to donate, please contact Kathy Gover at 801-636-1436 or via

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Making a Difference: The ten-year journey of Kate Bateman—human connection makes us want to change

Making a Difference: The ten-year journey of Kate Bateman—human connection makes us want to change
Darrel L. Hammon 

Kate and her family

In 2008, Kate Bateman, a young Canadian, went on vacation with her family to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. She loved the beauty of the island — the turquoise water, sandy beaches and the people. Her mood changed when she encountered young children working on the beach, begging and shining shoes. She wondered why they were not in school.

Soon, she learned a hard truth. These Haitian children living in the Dominican Republic did not go to school. Her vacation allure quickly dissipated into how she could help these children obtain their 
dream — or even instill in them a dream for something better.

Kate returned to Puerto Plata for a few years to check up on the young children she had met. Before she went, Kate gathered school supplies, clothing, and basic medical supplies to donate.

On each trip, she would gather more things to donate, only to discover that the children’s situations had not improved. She needed to do more than bring perishables to these children. Her epiphany came to her: They needed the education to climb out of the abyss of poverty.

After years of trips, a 21-year-old Kate Bateman formed Youth Upliftment International (In French: Amélioration Jeunesse Internationale), a nonprofit organization working on behalf of impoverished Haitian youth living in Puerto Plata.

According to Youth Upliftment International, the organization’s goal is “to provide students with a high-quality education, while also meeting their basic needs.”

The school is named Collège Amélioration Jeunesse — also fondly known as “Kate’s school” — and currently has students enrolled in pre-school to fundamental 6, which is the equivalent of 6th grade. The school is a simple one, snuggled between several buildings along a moderately busy street.

The typical student was born and raised in Haiti, or born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents, and comes from 11 different communities across the sprawling city. Kate beams when she says, “They are excited about learning and treat their teachers and peers with kindness.”

Most of the school’s teachers are Haitians. Some of the teachers have taught in Dominican schools but, according to Kate, “choose to work with us as they want to see children from their community educated. Our best teachers are those who are well-known members of the Haitian community, either as pastors or community leaders.”

Teacher and staff development is important to the school. At the start of every academic year, teachers attend a week-long staff development dedicated to teacher training. “We try and collaborate with other schools and charities for additional staff training and teacher development,” Kate said. “We are always looking for opportunities for our teachers to grow into better educators.”

Teaching a holistic curriculum is important to Kate. She said, “Our curriculum is a combined one. We use parts of the Haitian, Dominican, and Canadian (Quebec) curriculum so that our students are well rounded.”

For Kate, though, learning languages is key. In addition to Spanish, students are taught to read and write in French and Haitian Creole.

New Parent Group

“Many of our students and their families do end up back in Haiti. Sometimes this is due to deportation, other times on their own free will,” she said.

Kate hopes the Collège Amélioration Jeunesse one day becomes an accredited learning center (Centro Educativo) in the country.

While they move through the arduous process of becoming a learning center, their goal is to see every child who attends the school graduate. Upon graduation from the school, students have two options.

“They can attend public high school, or if their grades are very good ( 90-95% average) and they show leadership qualities, we fundraise to put them in a private high school where the quality of education is much better,” Kate explained.

Maintaining and growing a school is not a not easy task. Kate praises the community groups and churches for their additional efforts in making the educational dream a reality.

No matter how challenging it may be to educate these young Haitian students, Kate finds a way to be happy and positive: “For all of the hardships and challenges we encounter, there is always something positive happening.”

When Kate talks about her biggest accomplishment, she doesn’t hesitate. “We are so excited to be celebrating ten wonderful but challenging years,” she said. “I feel very proud that our school belongs to the Haitian community. It is a safe space where our students are celebrated for being who they are and what they are becoming.”

The future is wide open for the Collège Amélioration Jeunesse. Kate’s goal is to offer more educational programs, have students attend English classes every day and offer additional extracurricular activities during the weekend. But in order for Kate to accomplish these tasks, she needs financial help.

 “Many of our students come from homes where they do not have access to healthy balanced meals. The one nutritious meal they can look forward to in a day is at school. To feed all of our students each month the cost is $3,260 CND (approximately $2,400 US),” she said.

Two Canadian sisters, Sheila and Kathy, are co-directing a student sponsorship program for Kate’s students on behalf of the Dominican Starfish Foundation. The two recently attended the 10th-anniversary celebration at the school, saying, “Kate truly is a modern-day Mother Theresa, truly a selfless person. Her school is more than a school. It is a refuge from a difficult and cruel world.”

Karen, a supporter and advocate for the school, interviewed Kate for a research component in her Master of Leadership Program in Canada. She called Kate’s work “extremely humbling” and praised her efforts on the island.

Kate has a message for those who want to help: “Human connection is what motivated me to make a change,” offered Kate. “We could use your support and certainly appreciate it! Every person, every organization, can make a difference. Be curious, keep asking questions, and become involved. I also invite anyone interested in seeing what we are all about to come and see for themselves. We love and appreciate visitors!”

To contact Kate, you can go online to  or go to Facebook and Instagram: youth upliftment international.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

"Local Woman Helps Wedding Dreams Turn into Reality"

Tamara Ashworth Fackrell
 "Local Woman Helps Wedding Dreams Turn into Reality"
by Darrel L. Hammon

Published in the Daily Herald, "Local Woman Helps Wedding Dreams Turn into Reality," October 15, 2022, Our Towns: Making A Difference," pp. C1 (C4). Read it here:

Tamara Ashworth Fackrell is a renowned divorce and mediation attorney with a Ph.D. in Marriage, Family, and Human Development who speaks at a variety of international conferences, is a guest on podcasts, writes children’s books and music, and is a busy mother and spouse. What more can she do with her 24 hours?

Los Fackrell y Nancy

Somewhere, though, with her 24 hours and her busy life, she has dedicated time and space to help people in the Dominican Republic.

A few years ago, Tamara’s son Stirling returned home early from an LDS Mission in Philadelphia because of health reasons and COVID but still wanted to serve. Tamara was soon put in contact with Louise ZoBell, director of the Dominican Starfish Foundation, and the two discussed a potential service project for Stirling.

As Louise said, “We can create an adventure for him!” The adventure became a six-month home-building project in the Puerto Plata area with the Dominican Starfish Foundation. He thrived building houses for people in need. 

Stirling and Cara

One of Tamara’s other sons, Ashdon, and his wife Samantha, decided to accompany Stirling to the DR. They were going to drop him off and stay just a couple of weeks, but a project teaching English enticed them to stay. Plus, they thought they could improve their Spanish while teaching English and helping people find Christ.

While the trio were in Puerto Plata, they also worked with the missionaries and ultimately helped 14 people become members of the Church. One of the main challenges they found during their stay, from January-June 2021, was that the people who wanted to follow Christ were unmarried but not by choice. Because of the wedding costs, particularly the prohibitive cost of a marriage license, they couldn’t afford it.

 Ashdon commented that he “felt like his mom out there trying to get people married.” He asked his mom to host two weddings. In June 2021, the whole family flew to the Dominican Republic, hosted the weddings, and completed some other humanitarian projects. 

One of the recipient families 

Despite the high costs of supplies, Tamara said, “we hosted two beautiful weddings.”

Over the past several decades, Tamara had worked as a divorce lawyer and mediator for over 4,000 cases. Because she loves families, children, peace, and good marriage practices, including co-parenting, she decided that helping people with their weddings would become her passion project.

The biggest challenge with weddings in the DR is the cost. A simple wedding, with very few frills, costs around $150-$175, and a wedding license is around $125. The average monthly salary for a person working in the country is around $200.

After Tamara and her family had left the country, a local bride, Nancy, emailed Tamara with an idea to host weddings. Tamara thought it was a wonderful idea and agreed. She said, “I wanted to help the Dominican Starfish Foundation’s community center so they could host a level of a wedding we host in our backyard in Utah.” 

Nancy and her husband Roberto!

Over the next six months, she bought all of the items one would need for a wedding: curtains, chairs, chair covers, ribbons, tables, serving dishes, and more. They literally gave the Center a “wedding party in a box.”

According to Tamara, the “best gift you can give a host is a complete set of everything to host a wedding.”

Tamara bought and received donations for wedding dresses and tuxedos in a variety of sizes, flower girl dresses, flowers, inexpensive rings, cake stands, a demonstration cake made for photos, and other wedding must-haves. More creative wedding ideas emerged, and Nancy soon became the project’s volunteer director.

When Tamara talks about the wedding project and Stirling’s time building houses, she tearily proclaims, “It was a blessing for us to see all of the tender mercies that emerged.” 

Each wedding is unique. Because of this, every one led to its own challenges. Tamara talked about one wedding where the groom was so large that he couldn’t fit into any of the tuxedos. They rushed out and found a tailor who could create a tuxedo to fit him. Plus, the rings didn’t fit! So, they went to a jewelry store and had them make one to fit the man. Last but not least was, in Tamara’s words, “a humongous shirt.”

One of Tamara’s goals is to learn Spanish, using a language app and with the help of her husband, Jake, who is fluent in Spanish. She wants so desperately to be able to communicate with everyone in their language.

Tamara hit a linguistic milestone during her most recent trip to the DR in June 2022. She wrote and gave her first talk in Spanish. While she still needs the practice, Tamara is looking forward to fluency and more opportunities to help.

She said, “It is all about making a small difference. I love the idea of me helping other people and other people helping others and spreading the joy. Part of that joy is having each couple pay it forward.” 

The Fackrells and Nancy and Roberto, the newlyweds
On a return trip to the island, to see a finished home that Stirling helped build, he met a young woman named Cara who was part of an English language program that helped young Dominicans learn English. Stirling and Cara dated, decided to marry, and planned a wedding reception in the DR.

While Tamara and her husband celebrated their son, Nancy organized a surprise thank you reception for them with over 100 attendees. Nancy said, “35 of the couples who were married as part of the wedding project came to say thank you and then greeted Tamara and Jake with a kiss and a gift.”

Tamara said she cried her eyes out witnessing the gesture. “If you give your little portions, you get paid back with gratitude and through helping people in need.”

One of the keys to her success, Tamara revealed, is working with Louise ZoBell and the Dominican Starfish Foundation: “Because of the Dominican Starfish Foundation’s example and work, we decided to form our own foundation. It recently received 501 (c) 3 status required in the United States, and we are working on solidifying its status in the Dominican Republic, which is a process in and of itself.” Thus, the Change the World Foundation was born.

Currently, Nancy directs the Change the World Foundation’s wedding project and associated humanitarian projects. They contact donors who will donate the cost of a wedding, which hovers around $175. One year later, the Foundation has sponsored 69 marriages—with more on the way. 

Tamara and her Dominican amigas!

For those who want to be involved in a foundation or even create their own foundation, Tamara’s recommendation is clear and poignant. “You need to work inside your passion place,” she said. “When you give to people what is your passion, that’s where it pays you back….that’s what makes the difference and keeps you in the community long term.”

Tamara calls what she has done and is doing “my small, tiny, little drip.” Those who have witnessed what she is doing would say that her drip is a “mighty gushing of passion and compassion for those most in need.”

Interested people can contact Tamara Ashworth Fackrell by going online to or on Instagram @mindful_marriage.

Tamara's family

Monday, September 26, 2022

"A Crock Full of Green Sweet Pickles and Leadership Principles"

"A Crock Full of Green Sweet Pickles and Leadership Principles"
Darrel L. Hammon

I recently resurrected my mother’s famous green sweet pickle recipe and made some! Along the way, I realized that making these pickles is a lot like some principles of leadership. So I had to ask, “What does making a crock full of pickles have to do with leadership?”

It’s about change—I remembered how good those pickles were when I was a kid. When my mother passed away, the making of the pickles died with her. I decided I wanted pickles, so I had to change the “woe-is-me-my-mother-is-dead-and-no-one-can-make-her-green-sweet-pickles-ever-again” attitude. I just pivoted and decided to resurrect the making of her famous pickles. Change and pivoting happen all the time, and we must be prepared for it when it happens or when we strive to make it happen.

It’s about reading a recipe of time past and revising it to meet the needs of today—My mother loved to write in cursive as do I, but her cursive at the time she was writing was a bit hard to read. I spent some time trying to decipher what she meant. Yes, I had to go out for a “consult” with my sister to make sure I knew what her actual directions were. It’s not a terrible thing to reach out to others, particularly experts to help us along the way. The overall outcome was better than I thought it was going to be. I was prepared for disaster, and, thankfully, it didn’t happen.

 It’s about reading between the lines—My mother’s recipe has specific things that she used to do to make the pickles. But because she knew exactly what to do, she left out a few important steps that I had to improvise and review. Plus, I had to reach out to my sister for another “consult” to make sure I was on the right track. Many times, we know what needs to be done, but we also have to read between the lines to make sure we create a holistic process or view of what we ultimately want to happen.

It’s about patience—Washing, soaking, cutting, washing, soaking, and even more soaking for almost 30 days. More often than not, we have to have patience as we wait for something to mature or allow our creativity to take shape within our organization. Success doesn’t happen immediately. It takes time and lots of patience.

It’s about scraping off the mold—At one point in the pickle-making process, I had to scrape off a little mold that had begun to grow on top of the wooden lid into the water. While the mold looked yucky and terrifyingly gross, the mold didn’t affect the ultimate outcome. Rather, it made me trust the process my mother began almost 60 years ago and understand that scraping mold was just part of the process. Processes that don’t work sometimes surface and need to be scraped off, changed, revised, and even tossed for our successful movement forward to continue.

It’s about appreciating the past and working toward the future—I appreciated that my mother had introduced me to her famous pickles years ago. While her pickles went away when she died, that didn’t stop me from looking to the future and how I was going to make those same pickles again with maybe a bit of difference. I knew she could do it, and she taught me that I could do things, too. I guess the strategic planning formula of P + F = PR (Past + the Future = the Present) works to create success.

It’s about adding a bit of food coloring—My mother always added green food coloring to her famous green sweet pickles. I decided to do the same, only I didn’t add as much. Amazingly, they tasted the same, but they looked great in the bottles. Often, we have to insert a bit of coloring into the mix to make it look good and maybe a bit prettier, but this doesn’t change the overall outcome.

It’s about taking something from its natural state and creating something incredible—Many people don’t like cucumbers (a.k.a. “cukes”). I grew cukes, nurtured and harvested them, cut them up, let them soak for weeks in a brine mixture, and then made these delicious green sweet pickles with a tinge of tanginess. It was wonderful to watch the transformation of common cukes into something uncommon and delicious in its own way. Our organizations can grow the same way as we nurture them along and turn them into something that is possibly even better.

Next time you want to make pickles or anything, think about how it relates to your leadership and how you are transitioning, creating, and pivoting along the way.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Learn to Grow Where You Are Planted

I have lived in a few places in my life--Idaho, Chile, Montana, Wyoming, Dominican Republic, California, and Utah.

I have discovered that no matter where you are planted, you can grow and bloom!

It was tough to grow things in Montana and Wyoming. That wind in southeastern Wyoming is perfect for wind energy, but for growing tomatoes, raspberries, and corn, it was downright challenging. Thankfully, there were some farmers who had mastered the art of growing edible things in these parts of the world.

You just need to discover where the nutrients and resources are and then tap into them and learn how to use them albeit judiciously.

That means you have to get out of your comfort zone and determine where those resources are.

They may be your next-door neighbor--yes, you probably ought to knock on their door and introduce yourself. They could be at your new church congregation. They are probably definitely at your place of work, maybe in the next cubicle or on your next Zoom call. They may even be lurking at your local library.

Tapping resources reminds me of growing sunflowers. They grow almost anywhere. The amazing thing is that their beautiful heads follow the source--the resource, if you will--all day long. As you them during the day, their glorious heads follow the sun. I never tire of watching them grow and just become something magnificent.

Once you do that, you will be able to flourish even more! That's the beauty of it. So, learn to grow where you are planted.

#work #energy #beauty #art #leadership #understandingyourself #choicesmatter #becoming #lifecoaching

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Pivoting to a New View and Perspective

Pivoting to a New View and Perspective"
Darrel L. Hammon
July 2022

The word pivot can be both a noun and a verb. When I was growing up in Idaho, home to probably the best potatoes on the planet, many potato farmers began to expand their farms and convert large chunks of land into huge potato fields as well as a host of other crops. They needed a way to control water irrigation of these large tracts. Thus, the “pivot” was invented to create a mechanized way to manage a consistent irrigation pattern that could irrigate hundreds of acres at a time, thus increasing their production to feed the growing number of people in the world.

This “pivot” monumentally changed the way farmers irrigated potatoes and other crops in their ever-growing production chain. Now, instead of scratching their heads and fretting about consistent irrigation methods, they could irrigate thousands of acres of crops by installing massive pivots throughout their farms and grow enormous amounts of hay, grain, potatoes, beans, corn, and a host of other crops that feed the world. They did all this by planting pivots and learning to pivot in a variety of ways.

In my younger days, I loved to play basketball. I learned the hard way that you cannot hold the ball and move both feet around. It’s called “traveling,” and you have to give up the ball to the other team, thus losing possession of the ball. To be able to move around while holding the ball, you must keep one foot—the pivot foot—planted on the floor while you moved the other foot, which can pivot around in any direction.

In our lives, we experience some of these same challenges, perhaps more similar than we can imagine. We, too, stare out into our fields of dreams and wonder how we are going to make our dreams grow and come to great and life-changing fruition. Repeatedly, then, we need to plant a pivot in our lives so we can pivot to make the changes, hopefully in a direction that we need to so we can improve and enhance our lives.

So, how do we pivot in life? Let’s discuss six principles of pivoting.

Pivoting is merely learning how to make changes in our life.

Often, we suffer from the paralysis of doing something different. We feel comfortable in what we are doing, but we don’t like what we are doing. We feel stagnant in our jobs and/or our lives. But the thought of change frightens us. What we must understand is that pivoting simply means that we make incremental changes. Changes don’t have to be giant steps to one side or the other. Rather, they just need to be big enough to move us in a different direction. Thus, we pivot to a new direction, a new view.

Pivoting does not mean you are quitting.

Frequently, when we find ourselves in a situation that we need to change, we believe we have to quit our job, whatever we are doing at the moment, or the direction we are going. Sometimes we do have to stop what we are doing and contemplate our next move. More often than not, it is merely pivoting in a different direction. We don’t necessarily have to quit, just pivot.

Pivoting requires foresight mixed with hindsight.

One of the equations in strategic planning is F +P = PR (Future + Past = Present). We need to know where we have been, know where we want to go, and that decision becomes our present. Once we know where we are going, pivoting comes into play, so, we pivot to where we want to go. The amazing part of pivoting is that even a slight pivot can change our direction and give us a new perspective and view because we see things differently, thus helping us see the future more clearly.

Pivoting is a natural way of changing directions.

Throughout our lives, we have always had to pivot in some way. I started first grade in the same house and lived there until I was 19 years old. For the first three grades, I went to one school. For 4th through 6th, I went to another school and a brand-new school for the later part of 6th grade; for 7th-8th grade, I traveled seven miles to another school; for 9th grade, I attended a different school; and then for 10th through my senior year, I traveled seven miles in a different direction—all the time living in the same house. I had to pivot every school year. Granted, many of the same students did the same thing. Sometimes, we went to a different city, and students from other communities joined us. Environments changed; some friends changed. Pivoting happened almost daily. Then, when I was 19, I served a mission for my Church in southern Chile, thousands of miles from my home in Menan, Idaho. Population 596. Talk about a major pivot for two years—a new language, new culture, new country, new friends, new food, and big black boots for the rain. Pivoting is what we all have done throughout our lives. It’s just what we do.

Pivoting allows you to see life in 360-degree mode.

The best part of pivoting is that we can ultimately see ourselves and the world in 360-degree mode if we choose. Seeing our lives in 360-degree mode may be highly influencing, enlightening, and refreshing. Seeing the 360-degree mode allows us to become more holistic so we can see and feel the whole view, not the narrow focus that disallows us to be in tune with everything around us. We must see all to be able to see ourselves in the true light, our own best selves.

Pivoting can be pivotal in your life.

Pivoting periodically in our lives can produce the results we have always desired. It is essential that we pivot. If we are not progressing and growing, we are retrogressing. There really isn’t such a thing as stagnation. Each pivot can be a pivotal step in our lives. Even members of our team can pivot and help us see differently and gain a new perspective. Together, we can learn to change. We can change to become what we desire to become. Pivoting will change our lives and our organizations for the best if we choose well and positively change our future.

Sometimes you have to pivot to capture a better view and position yourself for the success you want and deserve. Don’t hesitate. Begin pivoting now!