Chronicles of Kyle

Humble Husband * Fond Father * Enthusiastic Educator * Lover of Life

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Enjoy the Little Moments

Enjoy the little moments

This Motivation Monday I come to you with the simple advice to ENJOY THE LITTLE MOMENTS.  

A little over two years ago, we moved to a different house for a couple of reasons.

  1. We had outgrown the starter home that we moved into when we first married.
  2. We wanted a place more off the main road, away from the busy highway. The traffic scared us since we had small children.

Each time we drive by our previous house, I find myself saying the same thing–we had so many good memories in that house, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. My wife, Leah, always makes a good point that we are also making memories in our new home, and we need to pay attention as those memories unfold daily.

Life Sometimes Blinds Us

Adulting is hard. Simple as that. Many days are just survival mode at best. Factor in kids and it adds another ripple of responsibility. Work life leaves us running on fumes. Mix in after school activities, homework, supper, baths. WOW! Our tanks are completely empty.

One day I had come to a point where I felt as if I had “too many irons in the fire” and the more I tried the harder things seemed. I had goals and ideas I wanted to accomplish, but it just seemed like there was not enough of me to go around. I exclaimed WHY IS LIFE SO HARD?!? Leah quickly responded with something that is so true…

“No one ever said it would be easy, but it is all worth it.”

Leah has always kept me focused at times when I become negative or just want to quit. No one ever said it would be easy, but it is all worth it! Yes!

Play “Bocks”

So many times we get caught up in trivial things. Today I share with you a story and one of those Aha! moments that puts things into full perspective.

It had been a long week. My wife and I are both school teachers, and the day had been exhausting. We also have three daughters. Dori is 9. Holly is 5, and Kylea is 2. With us going to work and the kids going to school and daycare, dirty clothes accumulate more than we like for them to. People have died on Mount Everest, and Leah was pretty certain that this week, with a mountain of clothes about the same size, her life might be claimed as well. Leah’s goal for the weekend was to strictly focus on laundry.

As she folded load of laundry after load of laundry, there was a little voice in the living room floor that made Leah hesitate as she was folding yet another pair of jeans. Below I share with you Leah’s account of it, as she shared it on Facebook…

“Last night when we got home I immediately started working on the laundry.

While Kylea’s sisters were downstairs watching a movie with Daddy, she asked me to ‘play bocks.’

I got the blocks out, and as we were going over to play, I grabbed some clothes out of the dryer that I was going to fold as she was building. As a working mom of 3, I am always double tasking.

‘No mommy, don’t fold the clothes. Play bocks.’

This my friends stopped me in my tracks. Those clothes folded just fine this morning.”

Here is the video of that special moment that we captured.

Are our priorities truly in the order they should be? I certainly know at times I get mine mixed up. The scary thing is that if we are not careful the little things that truly matter will have passed us by and we will be saying to ourselves…

Man, we had so many good memories. I just didn’t realize it at the time.


I leave you with this poem that is thought provoking when thinking about this topic. Simple, yet so true…

Dust we are and to dust we shall return. What we decide to do with our time in between makes all the difference in the world.

SaleHoo Review 2019: Read This Before Buying

Salehoo Emblem

Today I come to you with my Salehoo review 2019 to hopefully help you make an informed buying decision. I want to start with where my passion for online business originated. Many of you all have your own stories, but here is mine…


As a kid, I was raised on a farm. My grandparents and parents would harvest various crops. Potatoes, corn, peppers, tobacco, and beans. At a young age, I was mesmerized at how my family would take these goods to market and make money from them. Many of these crops yielded several “pickings”, which provided them with items/produce to sell throughout an entire season.

Salehoo 2019 Review Seller

As I grew older, I developed a passion for e-commerce. Finding items here and there at yard sales, consignment stores, auctions and thrift shops was easy but quickly became a daunting task. A few bucks here, a few bucks there from Amazon, Ebay, and yard sales of my own. What I quickly realized was that the ease of acquiring products became harder. Many of us want so badly to scale a side gig into a full blown business, yet sourcing product for a season or the entire year becomes an issue. I turned to Google to attain my sources, but I quickly found that the internet was full of scams and shiny objects with inflated promises that never materialized.

I had all but given up on the idea that an online presences would ever be a viable option for me; however, a mentor whom I have a great deal of respect for recommended that I try a service called SaleHoo. I was skeptical at first, but then I saw it was cheap ($67) and had a 60-day money back guarantee. The company has over 8,000 legitimate suppliers, a hot-trends research lab, a huge support network, and an active forum with over 100,000 members. So I thought – what do I have to lose? Since there were many positives with a huge supporting cast, I gave it a try. It did, indeed, help me find the very best suppliers of cheap, legitimate items! But there are some downsides, so I suggest you read my whole review before you consider purchasing.

Salehoo Review 2019: 8,000+ Vetted, Low-Cost Suppliers

A trustworthy working relationship between seller and product source is so important for long-term success in business. Whether a person is interested in well-known brands or is someone just looking to acquire a comparable product that is hot on the market, SaleHoo has you covered. That is why I loved SaleHoo. They have a guarantee that all of their suppliers are legitimate, real people selling items that are not fakes. I have seen it for myself; they are real and can be trusted. Best of all, they offer competitive prices, so that a that a healthy profit margin is attainable. I haven’t been able to find other suppliers that compare to the low prices that SaleHoo has. No matter which business model you prefer from wholesalers, to dropshippers, to direct-manufacturers, or to liquidators, SaleHoo has sources for everyone. Because of this, the database of sources provides a business owner with endless possibilities. One may stumble upon a winning source for products, but this service makes the process much more efficient. CLICK HERE TO BUY

SaleHoo Review 2019: Amazing Support and an Active Forum

SaleHoo 2019 Review Suport

If you need some extra help or have some questions to ask, the SaleHoo staff are responsive to email inquiries and questions. As an example, I have emailed the staff if I had a certain product or niche in mind, and they have sent me a lengthy email with possible dropshippers who offer that specific product. In some ways, if feels like there is built-in coaching for any step along the way. The responses are always prompt. Someone typically replies within 24 hours (during the business week) with a list of fantastic suppliers and recommendations. The other notable companies for product sourcing don’t seem to be as generous with mentoring their clients like Salehoo.

We have all heard the expression that “it takes a village”. As such, the company has a forum of active members, all looking to help one another. Boasting one of the biggest forums on the internet, questions are oftentimes answered within minutes by a kind and courteous audience of like-minded individuals. Moderators also ensure that the experience is optimal for all users. CLICK HERE TO BUY

SaleHoo Review 2019: Innovative Research Lab

SaleHoo 2019 Review Research

This is something really amazing –they have a great feature called the Research Lab. Trending items that are hot sellers on Ebay are listed and updated frequently. This means that an online business owner can basically experience guaranteed success by only cherry picking items that sell well! It also includes other important information like the best time to start and finish auctions for particular items. The Research Lab offers time efficiency so that the anyone running an e-commerce store or selling within a marketplace can sink money into winning products, taking away the gamble and guess work! The product labs offer idea generation and tried and true producst that people are in the market for. This lone feature makes the Salehoo a viable option. CLICK HERE TO BUY

SaleHoo Does Require Some Prior Knowledge

SaleHoo 2019 Review Prior Knowledge

One con with SaleHoo is that it doesn’t include absolutely everything you need to get started in selling items on eBay if you are beginning. This type of training and knowledge will have to be acquired elsewhere through trial and error. SaleHoo won’t teach the art of persuasion and sales copy, or the secret sauce to become a power seller and make six figures per year. For that, I recommend Online Selling Tactics. I took the course, and learned a lot – and was very impressed. If physical products don’t seem appealing and service or digital products are more your style, check out this opportunity by CLICKING HERE

SaleHoo Sources Occasionally Require a Tax ID number

SaleHoo 2019 Review Tax ID #

Another con for some is the intimidation factor of getting a tax ID number, but this opens up many possibilities. Sometimes to deal with quality sources a seller must have a Tax ID number when he/she wants to scale a business to a high level. While a tax ID varies from state to state, the gist of it is one must apply with the state’s revenue service and then the person will be issued a number unique to them. It usually consists of filling out an application and the process usually takes a few days at most. While Salehoo offers product sources that do not require a Tax ID number, one should seriously follow through with applying for the tax ID number in order to use the full spectrum of options that SaleHoo has to offer.

Conclusion – Should You Buy, or Not?

In this SaleHoo Review 2019, I hope that I have presented some of the pro and cons to this . Should you buy SaleHoo? The answer, in my experience, is a resounding YES! It has over 8,000 suppliers (wholesalers, dropshippers, manufacturers and liquidators). They are legitimate and the lowest price that I could find. Their support staff is the best in the industry and they even tell you which products are the best to sell and which ones aren’t selling, saving you money. To buy it, go here and take a look for yourself:


Feel free to leave comment or email me about what is your biggest obstacle with an online business. We can put together some bonuses to bridge the gap and as always I offer free one-on-one help anytime.

Behold the Helpers

Today I come to you with a quick blog post. Each day, on Facebook, I check my memories on this day, from years and years ago, and one memory came up that I had forgotten about, yet it still holds so much truth. The gist of the memory was to behold the helpers.

Every day, through social media and day-to-day life, our world is filled with the “bad” because the media, and people in general, sadly thrive on controversy. What controversies am I referring to? Well take your pick….political bickering, religious bickering, fist fights, school shootings, child neglect, child abduction, child abuse, addictions overtaking people’s lives, acts of violence from terrorist shootings and bombings…you name it. Anything is a possibility these days.

I have come to a point in my life that if something political, controversial, or downright terrible pops up in my newsfeed, I simply hide it. My heart has trouble handling it. It drains my joy and evokes emotions and thoughts that distance me from the inner peace I want in my life. I am as guilty as anyone to reading or looking at such things, and in extreme cases, responding to them. The garbage steals our precious time, especially the more we give in to it.

The truly unfortunate thing is that we cannot always hit a hide button to escape the bad things. Sometimes these things happen in life and we must face them head-on. Attacks on us or our nation cannot be ignored. We must keep ourselves safe and be willing to help others. Good will should resonate in everything we say and do. That can directly and indirectly change the evil. Simple as that.

In conclusion, we need to remember this: society loves drama and a good debate, BUT that cannot be had when something as simple and objective as “goodness” and “happiness” come into play.

I wrote this Facebook status on April 15th, 2013. Definitely something to consider when bad things strike…

Such an unfortunate series of events unfolded today in Boston. I am just left shaking my head, wondering why people people resort to such acts of violence. As I watched the horror replayed over and over today, I looked a little closer and many people were taking the initiative to help in some way, and that reminded me that there is still a lot of good in the world.

The late Fred Rogers said the following and it is so appropriate today, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”

Behold the helpers in the midst of the bad! Be a helper!

Online Teaching Background Ideas

Visually appealing online teaching background ideas are important to consider and an integral part of keeping students’ attention during the lessons. If a teacher were to have a white wall in the background, the learning environment would be lacking. Students might be less engaged. At the start, I had no idea how this online teaching journey would work out for me. During the interview process, I was not sure if I would even be hired. I did not want to invest a lot in my background if I could keep from it. Read on to see my before and after backgrounds. To apply for Qkids, follow the link by clicking right here.

Note: I would like to preface this post by saying that I am no expert on what an optimal online classroom background looks like. However, I will say that what I had in the beginning was good enough to receive the starter bonus that the Qkids company gives to teachers who have an attractive online classroom.

Online Teaching Background Before

Online Teaching Background Before

The supplies that I used to make up my background consisted of a very short list. A Disney alphabet picture was my focal point. It was something my mom bought for me from the thrift store–totally free. Christmas lights were used to outline the picture. These were also free. When we moved into our current house, the previous owners had left the lights in a box of Christmas decorations in the storage closet. I made a name tag using printer paper and markers. To finish off the background, I put a stuffed 3′ Minnie and Mickey Mouse on each side of the alphabet picture. I also laid some stuffed animals on the desk directly behind me and placed an easel to the side in case I needed it.

As I previously mentioned, this gave me the background bonus of $8 from Qkids which was a relief to me. This background cost a few dollars at most, and the supplies were all purchased from thrift shops. My point I want to make is that it takes next to nothing to create a background that is kid-friendly and appealing to the eye. Don’t let this part deter you from applying.

Even though my background sufficed, I felt like everything that I had put on the wall was the same color. The background seemed too washed out. I later printed off the main characters–Koby and Momo and also placed them on the wall. I just felt like my background was a hodge podge of “stuff”. After several months with the company and seeing that this was something I truly enjoyed, I invested more in an attractive background.

Online Teaching Background After

Teaching Background After

The supplies for my second background consisted of a higher price tag but still fairly cheap, nonetheless. I bought a trifold board which adds plenty of brightness to the area. Tie dye decorative duct tape was used as the border around the trifold board. I bought string lights, and they seemed to be easier to work with than the bigger and bulkier Christmas lights. I bought some sticker letters that I purchased from the craft section at Walmart. On one side of the board I put my nickname “Mr. Blue” and on the other side I spelled “Qkids”. I also took the character pictures and put them on the board as well.

Lastly, I still placed the Minnie and Mickey Mouse on each side of the board. All of these supplies ended up costing around $40 dollars give or take. I make that back during one day of teaching. I also removed the easel to reduce the cluttered look.

By placing everything on the trifold board, it created two benefits to my overall background.

  1. It makes my background portable, so that I can take it with me if I am out of town or on vacation.
  2. My background is more of a cohesive whole, and it just feels like my background has more purpose.

Final Thoughts

A teaching space and a quality background do not have to be expensive, and it does not require an entire office space. My work area is in the corner of my ustairs bedroom. I know other teachers who use laundry rooms and other small areas with limited space. Some teachers have used shower curtains and tensions rods as their background, and these work just fine. There is honestly no right or wrong as long as the space is neat and pleasing to a child’s eye. If you typically wear light colors, go with a darker backround or vice versa. Hopefully this gives you some ideas and eases your mind when thinking about what truly determines a desired online teaching background. A little imagination and creativity go a long way! Have fun! To apply for Qkids, follow the link by clicking right here.

How Much Does Qkids Pay?

“How much does Qkids pay?”

Qkids Logo

Many new Qkids applicants ask this question. Today I hope to answer that question and also expand on the details of what a Qkids teacher makes and the various ways teachers can earn with the company. There are three factors that go into Qkids pay rate. For those looking to go ahead and apply, CLICK HERE.

Qkids Base Pay

The base pay for teaching classes is 8 dollars per class. The classes last anywhere from 24-28 minutes, depending on the type of class the teacher is assigned to teach, plus the mandatory report at the very end. Teachers can teach 2 classes per hour. This equates to $16 per hour. This rate sounds much different to the 20 dollars that is often advertised on other sites. However, other aspects are factored in for additional money. Read on to find out other areas in which a teacher is paid.

Qkids Attendance Pay

A teacher is awarded for attendance. If teachers work a minimum of 15 classes per week, they are eligible for a $1 dollar bonus for each class worked. A 12-class minimum is required to hold a teaching position, but 15 classes are required to receive the attendance bonus.

Qkids Performance Pay

Teachers are rated based on a list of criteria by parents and class coordination. If a teacher is rated high, then a dollar bonus is given for each successful class. If for whatever reason a teacher is rated lower than the standard, his/her pay will exclude the dollar bonus. Potential teachers should not let this part deter them is they wish to apply. In my experience with the company, there have only been a few instances in which I have not received an attendance bonus for a class. I have used the feedback as a growth opportunity and have never taken it personally.

Base pay, attendance pay, and performance pay add up to the $10 per class and the $20 dollars per hour.

Standby Pay

Occasionally, teachers will be placed on the schedule as standby teachers. During these instances, teachers are there in case the primary teacher for the class has tech issues or becomes sick and is not able to take the class. In this case, the standby teacher fills in for the primary teachers. When a teacher’s standby is filled, he/she makes the usual $10 per class rate. If the standby teachers do not have to cover the class, they will be paid $4. Teachers must wait 3-4 minutes after the class has started to make sure they are not needed. The system will notify the teacher with a “ding” sound if they need to cover a class. In my experience, when I am on standby, 98% of the time I get a notification to cover a class.

Vacant Classes Pay

In the event that students are absent, The teacher still gets paid the full rate. A teacher must wait 10 minutes into the start of class to make sure that the student does not show up. In certain cases, I have had kids arrive at the 9-minute mark. We are still required to teach the class, but oftentimes, I let class coordination know, and they usually tell me to end at the regular time so that I am able to make my following class.

Money Earning Proof

How Does Qkids Pay You?

The final question others might ask is once you accumulate the money, how does Qkids pay you? The company pays teachers through direct deposit. One must provide a routing number, etc. While some may be leery of this, they have paid me on time for the past several months with 0 shady business. I leisurely work from the comforts of my home, and the money is deposited. Qkids’ pay schedule is usually the 10th of the month, give or take a few days. Above I have provided the payments I have received as proof. As you can see, it is a great secondary income and the easiest part-time job I have ever had.

In conclusion, I wanted to answer this question to clarify all of the various ways teachers get paid. I hope this helps those who are still thinking about applying. Qkids continues to look for new aspiring teachers. CLICK HERE to apply.

I am here to help each step of the way.

Persevere Throughout the Year

Our Peace May Cease

Over the last few weeks, I have discussed my classroom expectations–peace, participation, punctuality, preparation, and productivity.  However, I have adapted them to fit all ages in our professional, physical, and personal lives. In these three categories, the expectations sometimes take on more of a figurative rather than a literal meaning. Regardless, there must be a balance of all three in order to achieve a positive life. BUT you may say “life happens”.

Peace might be the last thing happening in our lives. Some days I don’t even like myself, let alone do I expect anyone else to like me. Work might come unraveled. Stress inhabits all corners of our lives. Things do not go as planned. We miss deadlines or maybe we just need  a break. We may have all of this pent up stress with colleagues or our work requirements seem to become more and more.

Not having inner peace with oneself and work stress might make a person come home and take things out on important people like our families, spouses, and children. We are letting them down as well.

The vicious cycle does not stop there. Our emotional peace is so draining that we do not have physical peace either.  We don’t take time to exercise and move. We binge eat junk food because we think that it comforts us. Some nights we just want to come home and go to bed. Yesterday, I came home and was so exhausted that I collapsed in the recliner and could not keep my eyes open.  When I do this I am short-changing the important people in my lives.

The Urge to Participate May Dissipate

Other Days we just want to rest. We want to sit back and just take a deep breath. Participation just seems like too much effort. Sometimes it feels like a daunting task to even murmur a word that is constructive. Our work flow may be overwhelming us and we just want to put it all to the side and just have a moment where we say that we have done all that is in our power and within our realm of effort, so we are not going to “bring it” on a particular day.

Because of that overwhelming feeling, it also zaps our energy in our personal lives, and that couch looks so enticing. We just want to fall deep into the cushions and not lift a finger the rest of the night. However, our spouses and children need the help and attention, but we just don’t have the gumption.

And forget about our physical lives and raising our heart rate for the betterment of our health and longevity. Maybe a nap would help us better on a certain day than that exercise which depletes our bodies of any energy we have left.

Punctuality May Not Be Reality

Some days we arrive at work on two wheels. We speed walk to our workplaces unsure of the direction we want the day to go. We are in survival mode and we are just thankful if we can make it to part of our duties. Forget about having anything together for the rest of the day.

Because of this rat race and being behind, we are also not on time with our compliments and kind words to others. We have our pedal to the floor and our head down, and we are looking to just make the day better for ourselves and who cares so much about what is going on in other people’s lives? We think they surely notice the train wreck we are living today, so why even acknowledge them?

Once we are late with everything else, physical activity also eludes us. We forget how exercise can sometimes be the best therapy we can experience. We just cannot deal with the thought of coupling physical exertion with such a mentally draining day of not being on time with anything.

Preparation May Cause Perspiration

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we feel like we are behind the eight ball and that we are not prepared. We plan, plan, plan, but things do not work out. This is probably one of my biggest frustrations–the way it is supposed to look in my mind vs. the way it turns out.

Again, this spirals down to a person’s personal life. It hardens us and makes us say things or do things that will place us further away from the way we are suppose to live. It makes our moral compass point in the wrong direction.

If too many of these types of days accumulate, we soon are out of shape and to a point in which we physically feel hopeless. Our weight has become unmanageable, we are out of breath just walking a short distance, our blood pressure and/or cholesterol is at a point that we are having the discussion of medicine or physical exercise to combat the problem.  Consistent neglect equals poorly preparing with regard to our physical lives.

Productivity May Limit Activity

This one is simple. We don’t get our list of important things finished while at work. We have not prioritized our time like we should. Now we have the stress of coming back to work the following day with yesterday’s work plus the present day’s work. Ugh the stress of 0 productivity.

Then we take the work home in hopes of catching up, but we do not have a productive time with our kids. We may even be irritable because we feel guilty for not spending enough time with the people who really matter.

Finally, when we think that we have caught up, it is time to make supper, bathe the kids, and do homework, so there is no way to make productive use of our physical time. We say we will work out harder the next opportunity we have to go or make some other excuse.

In conclusion, all of the above scenarios probably stressed you out just reading them. Many of us can probably relate. On paper, this whole set of principles looks great. But make no mistake, we ALL fall short. However, have peace in knowing that it is okay. This leads us to our final “P” which is PERSERVERENCE. It is ok to briefly feel sorry for yourself and be a realist and understand that not every day will be hunky-dory. The beauty is that nothing is perfect, yet we can still persevere with the right mindset.  So bare down, smile, and realize that tomorrow can always be better. Be intentional with the daily principles we have mentioned to have a more positive and fulfilling life. It is ultimately our choice in how we approach each day.



Kyle 1, Punxsutawney Phil 0

Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE critters that do not belong inside or around my house. Snakes, mice, coons, groundhogs, you name it, I hate it! On this day, I went to the garage to get something, and much to my surprise, this varmint was at the foot of the garage doorway. At first, there was no urgency, as I thought the house cat was just trying to get back in the house. However, it didn’t take long to realize that with those bucked teeth and flat tail that it was not Charlie Snow. It was, in fact, Punxsutawney Phil.

With today being Groundhog Day, Phil probably won’t exit his hole. He won’t try to assess the weather to see if he can see his shadow or not. He doesn’t want to encounter another Chuck Norris-like human again. So ol’ Phil will be taking a sabbatical from his duties until further notice, not because he saw his shadow but because he encountered Kyle Ballou. 😉

Kyle went to the garage and nearly stepped on a groundhog that was standing at our door from the house to the garage. The following is what ensued…for your viewing entertainment…😂😂😂

Posted by Leah Critz Ballou on Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Make Productivity a Priority

When introducing productivity to students, I always use an example of a factory worker. Each day workers are required to meet a production number. I ask students what happens if the worker doesn’t productivity a priority the first time.

Usually it is a warning.

On the second offense it usually means a sit-down meeting to form a plan to address and fix the problem.

The third offense means the person is usually searching for another job.

Students usually understand the importance of productivity for class, but there are always a few who still roll the dice and procrastinate.

Productivity doesn’t have an age limit. As we get older, it just just becomes a more dynamic term from a professional, personal, and physical standpoint.

Professional Productivity

From a professional stand point, three simple expressions have always gotten me through when I feel overwhelmed and have lacked a productivity mindset…

This is the first phrase I say to myself when I have the urge to become whiny.

productivity, get to work, make it happen

There is nothing wrong with briefly whining to people we trust about not feeling great about a task that we are asked to do. However, there is a danger in staying in that negative place. Have a 10-minute pity party but move on to the next point which is…


This expression comes from my boss, and while it is simplistic, it has always provided me with more focus.

For the sake of a G-rated audience, I will just call it Get-Shhtuff-Done. 🙂 Divide and conquer.

This leads to the final step…

Prioritize and be deliberate.

Map out in your mind what must be done, and then write it down for the month and/or specific day. It isn’t enough to just make a mental note. Life happens, and without a detailed guide of what all we have going on, we forget some things or we devote too much time to things that do not matter or too little time to things that do.

Google Keep helps me keep my sanity for the day. It is super simple and I am able to keep up with a hectic schedule using this app. Everyone has their own approach to keeping track of a busy schedule, but whatever your approach, prioritize it and be deliberate in achieving each task.

Personal Life

Productivity in our personal lives takes an entirely different form. My priority people in my life, in no particular order, are family, parents, siblings, wife, and kids. When we leave our professional lives for the day, we must be productive with our priority people. They are the people who motivate us to go to our professional lives each day. So, why do we sometimes let our professional lives affect our productivity with our priority people when we go home?

Converse with priority people who don’t live in the same household, whether it be through a call or text. Touch base with those people to make sure they are okay. Never lose touch with the people who have always been there for you, even in your worst times.

Continue dating your spouse. That sounds a little silly, but it is OH. SO. POWERFUL. Ask how his/her day was. Go out alone together for dinner. Exercise together. Watch a movie together. Whatever it is, never give up what ignited the flame in the first place.

We are our kids’ worlds. We! Not a screen! Netflix is not the nanny! We must put our devices to the side and play with our own toys instead of allowing our kids to watch other kids play with toys on YouTube. Make up a scavenger hunt and go outside and search for things to get some fresh air. Go on a fishing trip. Kayaking is great exploration. Get involved in sports. Socialize with others at church or recreation centers. Wean the screen for what should truly be seen!

Be productive with your priority people.

Physical Productivity

Physical productivity or being a cheat all comes down to whether we move and how we eat. I will be the first to admit that I fall short often.

My shortcomings are due to the fact that I let distractions get in my way. Some days I don’t even go to the gym. Allotting one hour a day for physical productivity should be imperative. If we don’t, then we are only being selfish to ourselves, and we are shortening our lives for the people I mentioned earlier who truly care about us.

We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones.

Fitness should be deemed a power hour and not a social hour. Once we finally push ourselves to go to the gym, we need to be productive with that time, since it is limited.

Go hard. Go fast. Be strong. Remember the reason we attend the gym is to increase our heart rate, shock our muscles, and burn calories. It does not mean to talk for an hour. We should be so busy catching our breath that we don’t have the hot air to expend by talking.

Enter the gym with focus and priority.

be productive in the gym

Power Hour: What is your plan?

The same can be said for physical productivity as much as professional productivity in regard to writing down the workout we intend to follow during that hour segment. My go-to has always been compound exercises that cause improved aerobic activity within the body. The majority of my workouts incorporate mostly body weight exercises. I am able to get a nice pump and my joints feel much better than when I push and pull extremely heavy weight. Others may like a heavier workout, and that is perfectly fine. Find what appeals and do it.

As mentioned in prior posts, if weightlifting is not your forte, get on a treadmill. Go for a walk and admire the outdoors. Swim some laps. But always, always, stay away from the couch.

In regard to diet, I love the moderation approach and a gradual release mentality into an eventual full-blown change of lifestyle as referenced in the article entitled No S Diet Results.

The Magic Pill Thrill

Make no mistake, there is no magic pill or new groundbreaking protocol.

Improved diet is a no-frills change of lifestyle that should happen a little over time.

I highly suggest a journal or have a way of keeping up with what you are taking in on a regular basis. The No S Diet I speak of is simply a mnemonic that keeps people in line and is so simplistic that it is sustainable for a longer period of time versus a restrictive fad diet. There are some phrases to focus on when we make diet a priority: More moderation. Calories in vs. Calories out. Food group balance. Again, this is not reinventing the wheel, but instead, it’s being very deliberate in your chosen approach and making it a priority.

In conclusion, none of what I share on this blog is new information, but I treat it as a revival of sorts, to keep myself focused, and it serves as something that I can look back on as a friendly reminder to myself. Let’s be the best versions of ourselves today.

How Do We Want to Be Remembered?

How do we want to be remembered?

This is one of the questions that we ponder throughout our lives–HOW DO WE WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?

One of my memories from 7 years ago, January 21, 2012…

I sometimes worry that the rat race of life will overshadow the things that really matter. And then at the end of my life, I will be like where has it all gone? 🙁

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things.”


Seven years have gone by since I wrote this, and this is still by far my biggest fear. Am I letting life alter my life? I have great intentions to get up and enjoy my family, etc. However, sometimes the stress of the day puts blinders on me. As I trot through life’s many obstacles, I miss important things right beside me.

Remembered for Loving

Remembered for love

Hollis Antle: My grandfather, a man I had great respect for, was in his final moments of life, and some of his last words will always stay with me: It has all gone by so fast.

This guy was a family man and had such a big heart for others. I never once looked at him and thought he had taken anything for granted during his time on earth. Yet, he still yearned for more time.

I am not even close to the man he was, but I would love to one day have his gentle demeanor, and when my time is coming to an end, it is my hope that people would think the same about me. I feel like that final moment would be easier to handle, knowing that the ones I love feel that I always gave them my all.

That I shed my blinders and looked at them straight in the eyes and listened attentively to the minor and major things they had to say.

That I showed and told them how I truly felt. I said it and didn’t just think it.

The Alternative

Remembered for work

On the other side of the spectrum is the individual who holds back. Someone who is uncomfortable with expression or just doesn’t take the time for it. This person lets work and trivial things yank him from priorities.

I sometimes feel I am this individual. I want to provide my family financial security, but during the process, I am missing out.

The regret, I would imagine, is unfathomable for this type of person who never makes adjustments to live the right way, to live for the parts of life that truly matter.

I am a work in progress but it is my hope to be the former person rather than the latter.

In the end, when we yearn for more time, is it because life has been such a beautiful ride or is it because we have urgency to make things right?

Ties That Are Never Broken

“Ties that are never broken…”

Ties That Are Never Broken

A few years ago, after class, a male student approached me and quietly said…

“Mr. Ballou, I am escorting a girl in homecoming tonight, and I don’t have anyone at home who can tie my tie. Would you care to show me how?”

I was more than happy to assist him. I made sure the length was right, and I showed him step by step how to do it. Later in the week he showed me pictures. He was wearing his tie and was sharply dressed. It looked like he had a great night.

Lately educators have come under fire. People outside of education devalue teachers and their responsibilities.

We are selfish for wanting security for retirement.

Teachers get summers off, so we are not underpaid.

We are lazy or ineffective because test scores fall into a category (insert acronym) that has been deemed unacceptable.

We have even been called “thugs”. The only part of that word that is true is that I have been known to give hugs.

You name it… I have heard it since I have been teaching.

Many haters are of this mentality :

“Those who can’t do, teach.”

This is my least favorite quote because the ones who say these types of things are the people who would never attempt to do what we do on a daily basis.

I don’t do what I do for the pay.

Teachers don’t go to work thinking about their retirements and benefits that we have been promised, yet are becoming more questionable with each passing year.

I don’t go to work to just to teach a subject.

While I appreciate the opportunity for each of these, I do what I do to form relationships, and, in the process, I integrate English class. 🙂

My mission? I care for kids, emotionally and intellectually. That is all.

That same boy who needed help tying his tie came back to me recently just to chat. He told me that the tie I helped him with still hung on his mirror and that it was still tied for the next special occasion, and in the meantime, it serves as a reminder to him of how I helped him when no one else was there.

Folks, statements like his are why I am still in the teaching profession. Kind words like his are a realization that I am making an impact and that all of my efforts are not in vain.

Education gives me the opportunity to form ties that are never broken, both literally and figuratively.

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