DJ Finds His Forever Home & Best Friend

We have been cat owners since 2001.  Well, we have been “owned” by cats since 2001.  If you are a cat owner or if you know a cat owner…either way you would more likely agree the cat is the true owner. The most recent addition to our family is DJ. Just over a year ago, on September 25, 2018, he sauntered up to my Dad and seemed to have decided he had found his way to his forever home. 

The Story of DJ:

Dad says…I found him late at night on the sidewalk. He seemed nervous and upset.  I meowed at him (my Dad talks to all my cats) and he relaxed so I could pet him.  When I got ready to go home, he insisted on coming with me. As I walked, he kept getting between my legs all the way home. He would not come into the entryway to the front door…he had gone far enough on that first day. The following night, I found him sprawled out asleep on the sidewalk and he followed me home again.  He came on into the entryway where he enjoyed a snack.  Your sister said she had someone who would take him if we could catch him.  The third night, he was again on the sidewalk and he again followed me home.  We were able to get him to come into the house.  He was nervous but ate and drank warm milk.  Then he checked out the house by roaming around, even into dark rooms.  Afterwards, even though it was pouring rain, he wanted out.  We opened the door and he left. The next morning, we found him laying as close as he could get to the front door.   We coaxed him in with food and “entertained” him until your sister came to get him to take him to the vet.  

Over the next few days a neighbor friend of my parents fostered DJ. After receiving pictures and pictures of DJ from my sister (who lives near my parents) and told over and over “what a good cat he is” we decided he needed to be a member of our family.  It was difficult to resist DJ.  He is cute, well behaved, and has a soft “squeaky” voice.  Ten days later, October 5, 2018, DJ came to our house for a weekend visit and introduction to our cats. This was the day DJ found his forever home AND his best friend.

DJ sitting on my lap the first day.

We have often wondered about what life was like for DJ on the streets.  He seemed self-sufficient and was in good physical condition when he found Dad but life on the street is no way for a cat to live.  DJ was in search for his forever home.

As expected, DJ’s transition into our home, with our other cats, had a bit of a learning curve.  Initially, DJ and Chester were leery of each other and competed over their “ownership” of me.  With some planning and some patience from all of us after a couple of weeks it was amazing to see how close they were becoming.  Over the next several months they have formed a close bond and are often inseparable.  I have always thought cats were independent and solitary, but DJ and Chester have become pals.

DJ knew he was in a safe and loving place…being with us was the second chance he was looking for when he approached my Dad. I could talk a bit about the wellness benefits of rescuing an animal (for us and for DJ), but I think the poem below really tells the story.  DJ enriches our lives.  I am so glad we made room in our home and hearts for DJ. He is a great addition to our family.  

Tail tucked between your legs,  
Confusion in your eyes –  
I know it’s hard to understand
That someone heard your cries.  
When loneliness is all you know
And pain is all you feel
And no one can be trusted,
And hunger is all too real…
That’s the time the Lord sees you
And lets you know He’s there  
That’s when He sends His messengers
The hearts that love and car.  
Yes, rescuers are angels 
You cannot see their wings,
They keep them neatly folded
As they do their caring things.  
The medicine to make you well
Good food to make you strong.  
And finally to help you learn
That hugs are never wrong.  
The perfect place then must be found   
The home where you can live
Secure and safe and happy
With joy to get and give.  
When you reach your Forever Home,
Your place to feel whole,
The Angels smile, and off they go
To save another soul.  
author unknown

Sharing Stories, Sharing Life

“Because stories are forgotten if left untold.” unknown

Chasing white squirrels because Dad said if we caught one, we could keep it.

Providing numerous opportunities to gain an appreciation for yardwork.

The brownie scout experience.

Bike ride in Texas…we said turn LEFT!!

In my blog Keepsakes & Memories I stated…Keepsakes of your life are objects that mean something to you; symbolizing a snapshot of life that has personal meaning & enhances a sense of wellbeing.  Our keepsakes are our personal history and act as memory triggers.  My blog last week, Storytelling and Education, I stated that storytelling is about sharing experiences and ideas with others in an interactive engagement.  

The opening lines above are from memory books my sister and I made for our parents for their 60th birthdays.  We made a memory book with 60 memories for mom and one for dad.  The stories within the memory book is family history…the inside scoop/private jokes that only we know.  

There is also a story within the stories of the memory book.  While compiling the list of memories for the books I recall my sister and I would often have the same memories. The more interesting aspect of creating the list for the books was when our perspective of these same memories would differ. The resulting conversation generated more stories and memories.  Also, as we “gathered” our memories we would say to each other “I don’t remember that” which led to another story.  The stories for the books became more robust as details of our shared experiences unfolded.

Ronquillo (2018) states, “each moment in life, however mundane, can be a story worth telling, because sharing stories isn’t just about relaying information. It’s about sharing life with others…”  She continues, “the continuous telling and retelling of stories keeps bonds strong and memories alive in ways that even photographs or records can’t, because when we tell them, they grow with us.”

The memory book is a keepsake…we could forget the stories behind these lines if we leave them untold. A great family story probably does not have just one point; there are multiple layers to the meaning of each story.  Listening to and telling stories share a common history with family and friends. The outcome of sharing stories improves quality of life.  Stories are powerful tools to stimulate the mind and the body.  Sharing, reminiscing, and reflecting on the stories of your life is a collection worth exploring.

Barnier & Van Bergen (2014) state, “our memories provide a database of evidence for events we have experienced and what they mean to us.”

Here is one example of an organization helping families tell their story.

FamilySearch is a nonprofit family history organization dedicated to connecting families across generations. Their #52Stories blog includes articles such as:

Preserving Family Memories: Real Life Success Stories 

How Family Stories Shape Our Identities

Keeping the Stories of Family Heirlooms Alive

In 2016 FamilySearch provided resources with their #52 Stories project to inspire telling your story.  I share this information with my readers to show an example of how to tell your story.  

So, what’s your story????

Storytelling and Education: Tell Me, Show Me, Involve Me

What do you think of when you hear the word storytelling?
How do you think storytelling contributes to adult learning?

When I think of storytelling I think about sharing experiences and ideas with others in an interactive engagement.  The National Storytelling Network views storytelling as an art and states:

Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.

The mission of the National Storytelling Network (NSN) is to “advance all forms of storytelling within the community through promotion, advocacy and education.” The NSN vision expands on the mission by stating, “all people value the power of storytelling and its ability to connect, inspire, and instill respect within our hearts and communities.”

NOTE: The National Storytelling Network blog has some great articles.

Storytelling is old news.

We all enjoy a good story, and 27,000-year-old cave paintings indicate that this has probably always been the case. Oral storytelling can be traced back almost 200,000 years. Historically, stories have been used to inform, teach, entertain, form friendships, and pass down family beliefs and values. Storytelling has always been a powerful method of communication. This could be because of the brain’s knack for finding patterns.

A basic dictionary definition of learning is “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.”  The dictionary definition does not describe “how” or by what “method” is best to acquire knowledge.  How each of us learn the best differs and I believe depending on the content the best learning style could change.  The 3 learning styles are:

Type of LearnersDescription
Visual LearnersStudents learn best when they can see/visualize the concepts. 
Auditory LearnersStudents learn best when they can hear an explanation of the concepts
Kinesthetic LearnersStudents learn best when they can actively engage with hand/bodies to experience the concept.
Individual Learning styles

Associated with the learning styles above there learning theories to consider. Keep in mind, that there is no one size fits all adult learning theory but several prevalent theories that could describe how adults learn best.  

Adult Learning TheoryDescription
AndragogyAdults use experiences to guide learning
TransformationalInspirational aha moments; thoughts and perspectives trigger learning
ExperientialAdults learn by doing

Constructivist Knowledge builds from putting meaning to experiences
Learning styles combined with use of storytelling & learning theory

Learning through storytelling actively engages adult learners in the process of knowledge acquisition.  Learning occurs by connecting meaning to the content presented. A few examples of story-based teaching techniques include case studies, role playing and autobiographical writing. Think back to teachers you’ve had in the past. Teachers who stood out as the “best” were intuitively using storytelling methods as educational tools.  I published a blog on July 22 about my first mentor Miss B.  She was a storyteller.  Learning was transformative, experiential, and what we learned built on our active participation through reading, listening and movement.

Research Supporting Storytelling 

Yackley (2007) research titled Storytelling: A Key to Adult Learning concludes that storytelling situates learners in a transformative learning experience. Using stories to improve learning costs nothing, yet it returns bountiful benefits. Adult learners remember more and what they learn becomes a part of them as they become a part of the lesson. Stories engage the mind of the learner.

Findings from the study Effectiveness of Storytelling on Adult Learning by Caminotti & Gray (2012) confirm that storytelling is effective as an adult teaching strategy.

Smith (2012) Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire discusses how storytelling is effective because it works for all types of learners.  Storytelling provides for visual learning (mental pictures), auditory learning (focus on words and voice), and kinesthetic learning (emotional connections and feelings).

D’Abate & Alpert (2017) examine storytelling as a mentoring tool in their study titled, Storytelling in Mentoring: An Exploratory, Qualitative Study of Facilitating Learning in Developmental Interactions.  The focus was on how stories can convey meaning, inspire listeners, and transmit wisdom to help students grow, learn, and develop. They conclude that storytelling is a powerful tool.

Finally, for those interested in more research, a corporate training site discusses 3 ways to use the power of storytelling along with a summary of supporting research. 

Boris (2017) article titled, What Makes Storytelling So Effective for Learning highlights and confirms the points from the prior research. The use of storytelling:

**creates a sense of connection
**builds familiarity and trust
**allows the listener to enter the story where they are
**makes students more open to learning
**enhances level of engagement
**conveys complex ideas in a simplified way

Malamed (2011) article provides a good summary of the benefits of storytelling to the educational process.

**Stories are emotional glue connects audience to message
**Stories reshape knowledge into something meaningful
**Stories make people care
**Stories are more likely to be shared
**Stories give meaning to data

Next week the idea of storytelling will switch from education perspective to a more personal perspective and expand on a prior blog published on August 26, Keepsakes & Memories.

Sports: A Spectator’s and a Fan’s Perspective

A person who watches sports is a “spectator” and/or a “fan”. A spectator is an active observer of the event.  A fan is an admirer or aficionado of the sport and often links identity to a team. Both have emotional significance, value and connectedness derived from group membership.  When watching a sport, a spectator typically refers to “the team” while a fan uses the word “we” when referring to the team.  

I became a spectator and a fan of sports
during high school. 
I was an active observer and
an admirer of these guys!!

My perspective of “watching” sports during high school was narrower than it is today. At the time, I watched as a social event and to support my classmates who were playing.  It enhanced my psychological wellbeing through the social connection with others. Identity formed from talking about the games, sharing experiences and bonding with a group. The videos produced by the Power of Football share the broader perspective of “tradition; brotherhood; moments; community. Football’s positive impact transcends communities across the U.S. — both on and off the field.” 

“There’s something special about high school football.” 
Video (1:52)

There is much written about the value of sports from the players perspective.  The literature lacks content on how spectators and fans perceive sports. Brown (2017) wrote about the influence of identity development through any level of watching sports.  Those watching sport (in person or through the media) consistently mention sense of belonging and feeling part of a group as outcomes of the experience.  Camaraderie, upholding tradition, and community pride are results when friends, neighbors and other members of the community support a sport team.

Almendraia (2017), senior reporter for Huffington Post, interviewed sports psychology professor Daniel Wann of Murray State University. Wann is the author of the book Sport Fans: The Psychology And Social Impact Of Spectators. He explains that there are two routes to feeling good through watching sports.

“One would be following a successful team, and the second would simply be identifying with them. You can get well-being benefits even if your team doesn’t succeed.  It all comes down to how community lifts our spirits and the sense of belonging-ness that increases with a group of like-minded individuals.”

Gau & James (2013) share a value-type framework associated with spectator sports. The goal of the study was to fill the gap in the literature since prior research focused on the participant rather than the spectator. In addition, the literature review found that much of the prior research investigated motivation for watching rather than personal values.

A summary of how the study participants describe
values of spectatorship

EnjoymentExperience success & failure, relaxing, distraction for daily routine, drama of unpredictability
SociabilityInteraction focused on a common goal with friends and strangers
IdentityTeam and player identification, nationalism, parental and peer pride, and hero admiration
StatusSport is important to society so being knowledgeable and able to discuss sports improves self esteem
SpiritualFulfilling, self-satisfying, self-acceptance, vicarious sense of achievement, quest for perfection
MoralSense of fairness and integrity, empathy, discipline, courage
CognitiveStrategies, techniques, tactics, statistics and records, team history
AestheticBeauty and grace of movement, sport is an art form
RitualCeremonial aspects of sport such as tailgating and booster events, observation of athlete rituals

“It is pure escape—it provides me something to just plain enjoy or get mad at, it connects me to my friends, my neighbors, and to random strangers who feel the same pull and passion of the game.”   Becky Simon-Burton

Becoming a spectator and a fan of sports started during high school.  Today I don’t follow high school sports as much as a fan but I do embrace high school sports as a spectator by “keeping up with” local school results.  

Now I’m an avid spectator and fan of college football.  The power of football for me is that my community is across the U.S.  whether I am directly in contact with others or not. The feeling of community exists (a sense of belonging with like-minded people).

I particularly enjoy rival games (Army-Navy, Ohio State-Michigan, Oklahoma-Texas, Alabama-Auburn…to name a few) because of the tradition and camaraderie shared by players on each team and by the spectators/fans in the stands.

The values of spectatorship listed above connect with me. In most every game I watch I can easily point out examples of each value. I’m definitely a college football fan and spend a lot of time watching games…this enthusiasm to “watch” sports began in high school watching MY team play the game.  When I think back on those years…”There is no other place I’d rather be.”

I hope you enjoy the video below.

No Other Place I’d Rather Be  
(Video 2:47)

Social-Psychological Aspects of Sports Officiating

School is back in session.  After-school activities and recreation leagues are forming. Often officials for these programs are young adults, at times peers to those playing. They are transitioning from taking part in the sport as a player to serving the sport as an official.This transition can be challenging.  League and program administrators, parents and coaches contribute to the development of the officials. I have experience both as an official (basketball, volleyball, and softball) and as a trainer of officials. During my time in both roles I discovered the importance of a expanding knowledge and skills beyond rules and mechanics.  

Competitive sports events usually bring three groups of participants together, two teams and a crew of officials.  The relationship between the teams and officials have a considerable influence not only the perceived success of the event but also on the personal development of the participants.  Good officiating helps produce a healthy, educational, and sportsmanlike environment associated with the fair determination of a winner.  Competent officials are the principle requirement of a successful program.

I consider aptitude as well as attitude essential elements of successful officiating. Because officiating is a personal challenge, and each official brings to the program many different qualities, training programs should include social-psychological (the area of sport psychology and the area of sociology of sport) aspects. Officiating, to a great extent, is more the product of several interrelated human factors than a knowledge of rules and adherence to a series of mechanical procedures.  

Guillen and Feltz (2011) discuss self-efficacy as a conceptual model for sports officiating. Young adults serving as officials take on a position of power which includes peer pressure, authority, decision-making, problem solving, and management of aggression.  These young officials should be in a state of psychological readiness to contend with such factors.  Bond, 2013; Dovidio, 2006; & Rauthmann 2017 support the long-accepted view in psychology that behavior results from contributing factors within the situation (environment) and within the individual. 

One of the earliest experimental issues pursued in in social psychology was the impact of social presence.  Arousal level increases significantly by the mere presence of others.  Carron, 1984; Mullen et al., 1997; & Ukezono, 2015 describe the response is it relates to the quality of performance. Under the increased arousal, dominant, well-learned responses improve, but poorly learned, more tentative responses diminish.  Therefore, the level of distraction, stress, or anxiety is inversely proportional to the level of officiating.

Jarvis, 2005; Kraut, 2003; & Rosenberg, 2009 explain that evaluation apprehension is the expectation that the people who are present will form a judgement about the quality of the performance often causes the increased arousal.  Anxiety about evaluation contributes to an increase in arousal level which influences the effectiveness of performance.  In addition, the characteristics of those present, for example spectators, influences motivation and performance.

Those responsible for training of young adult officials should be aware of the social-psychological influences that could affect performance.  “Knowledge is power” and “practice makes perfect” are two specific teaching techniques to include into the training program.  Besides the cognitive training aspects, which include rule interpretation and mechanics, a program could educate officials in the following areas:

  • Physiological reactions to stress
  • Relaxation techniques and attention to control strategies
  • Reaction time management (presence of an audience usually causes faster responses and often leads to increased errors)
  • Anxiety management when in the presence of a hostile/unsupportive audience
  • The greater the experience in actual situations the greater the acclimatization
  • Trainers should teach skills until they are overlearned
  • The more similar a practice drill or situation is to the real event the greater the benefit
  • Precondition officials to hostile settings. Ways to influence self-confidence include:

**Performance accomplishment
(personal experiences perceived as successfully)

**Vicarious experience
(seeing someone else perform in a difficult situation)

**Verbal persuasion
(communicating and reflecting on experiences with others)

A key tip mentioned in Harbourne’s (2017) interview with Brian Mills, the assistant director for recreation sports at University of Houston, is to “ditch the rulebook”.  

When training new officials, Mills suggests loosening up on the rules just a little. “When we bring in new officials, we don’t focus on 100 pages of rules anymore,” added Mills. “We focus on their development from a holistic approach. We dedicated time to discuss the benefits of becoming an official outside of money, we discuss how officiating can provide them the experiential opportunities to better themselves down the road, and we discuss the importance of soft skills like communication, management, emotional intelligence and teamwork. We expand on that with veterans and add new components like self-management, relationship building and relationship management as they develop skills to be aware of themselves and others.”

Wheeler (2014) wrote a two-part series on “What Does It Take To Be An Intramural Sports Official”.  In part 2 of her blog she shares insights from her student officials.  Overlap exist in the comments below are related to the social-psychological aspect of sports officiating discussed above. 

What would you say is the hardest part of being an intramural sports official?

“The hardest part is getting yelled at by disgruntled participants and trying to keep a level head.”

“The most difficult part about being an intramural official is being able to read people’s emotions and intentions. Often I make calls or choose to let a call go if I realize the person didn’t mean to commit the action or realizes wrong-doing.”

Were you intimidated when you first started working and did you have any previous sports officiating experience?

“I was a soccer referee before I worked for campus recreation, but I was still intimidated on my first day of work because I didn’t think I knew flag football (the first sport I worked) that well and I was nervous.”

“It was slightly intimidating my very first game, but before each season starts, we receive training that pertains to our specific sport so once the game starts rolling you just get into the mode and do what you’re supposed to; I did not have any previous experience.”

What do you think you’ve gained (as a person in general, not necessarily as a sports official) from your job here at campus rec? How is that valuable to you in your planned future pursuits?

“Being a sports official has definitely taught me better conflict management skills, communication skills, and how to be more vocal and proactive. I think those skills are valuable in almost every work environment.”

“I’ve gained the ability to be more assertive with large groups. Often people playing these sports look to you for guidance and you have to step up and give it to them or they won’t respect you.”

Many factors are contributors to the evolution of developing a competent sports official.  It is important to realize that officials become vulnerable when they perceive a doubt of others or when they have self-doubt. The responsibility of those training young adults to serve as an official is to develop a comprehensive training program.  The training must extend beyond rule interpretation & mechanics and include social-psychological aspects.

For those of you who are officiating sports consider the 3 questions Wheeler asked her students.  How would you respond?

For those of you who are training official consider the 3 questions Wheeler asked her students.  How would you hope your officials would respond?