Non-Violent Communication (NVC)

Non-Violent CommunicationI’ve been hearing about NVC for over a year now from a number of sources, mostly word-of-mouth.  At first I dismissed it, after all, I’m not really a violent person so why would I need to learn how to communicate non-violently? After hearing about it yet another time and then accidentally seeing the book by the same title at the library, I decided it was time to look into it.

Since reading the book, I have been thinking about how these are skills they should teach in school. Real world skills on how to effectively communicate in a way that gets your needs met as well as the person with whom you are communicating. I have to admit, putting the skills to use isn’t always easy in the moment during a heated discussion, but as the author says, you don’t need to suppress your anger or disappointment. As a matter of fact, you can even yell how angry you are. I truly believe in not suppressing emotions, as that seems to lead to so many problems – physical ailments, anxiety, depression, and other mental illness; and the book encourages you to emote your true feelings openly.

I have noticed more and more lately that when somebody starts a heated discussion with me, they are often looking for empathy. I recently received an email from a close friend who was very upset at what somebody else had done to them and threatened that I should take their side, or else. What I read between the lines was that this person was really needing empathy from me, which i provided. This seemed to immediately work like magic and turned the whole situation around.

Also, I am getting better at talking about my own needs in a way that is not threatening to the other person. This makes it much more likely that I will get what I am asking for.

Books, self-development, and other stuff

I’ve been reading a lot, and also learning Swedish. Between those two new things I’ve beenSiddhartha by Hermann Hesse book cover keeping pretty busy. I recently finished the book Siddhartha by  Hermann Hesse. I think the interesting thing about the book is that it was written in 1922 by a German man whose father was a missionary in India, and his mother’s parents were missionaries as well.  He grew up in a very Christian family in a Christian area and time, so it seems unusual that this person would choose to highlight Buddhist ideals. At the same time, it makes sense. When we’re pushed toward a certain religion, that often fails. I read somewhere that he has written another book about Christian missionaries who go to India only to find that their opinion was that there is a superior religion already there.

In the book, the main character is Siddhartha, but he is not the original Buddha we always hear about named Siddhartha. Why the author chose the exact same name, I do not know. Siddhartha spends his life trying to attain enlightenment, and goes through a series of events that lead him through a winding path of living very minimally, to living as a rich and indulgent man, and back again. In the end, he finds that everything is one – the earth, the people, the river.

I decided to read the book because I had read reviews that referred to it as “life-changing”. I do believe it was a worthy read, and would not consider it a waste of time at all. I’m not sure if I would call it life-changing, but it does get you thinking. I would recommend it over all.

Besides that, I’m also reading The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris. I don’t think I have a huge confidence problem, but I am certainly not perfect. We all suffer from confidence issues from time to time, and these little things can eventually add up to big things – missed opportunities mainly. The book highlights the ACT method, which I’m just learning about. ACT is an acronym (I can’t remember exactly what for right now) and it is basically a strategy for working through your fears in order to become more confident and live a fuller life. I’m a little addicted to self-help, so I’ll consume just about any book out there on the topic. I feel like even if you don’t need a great deal of help in any certain area, it doesn’t hurt to strengthen all parts of your life, and you will always find something of value. I have to say, although I do believe working through your fears is important in order to gain confidence, I feel like the book may be missing a piece of the puzzle. I’m not sure how to explain it yet, but if I decide to continue with the book, I may describe my feelings in more detail later.

Make goals that align with your values and desired emotions

Last week I came up with a list of my top 10 values after spending some time evaluating what they might be. Some of them were freedom, abundance, fun and excitement, serenity, education, fitness, caring for others etc. Today I also came up with my top desired emotions. These are the emotions I most want to feel, and that I want to cultivate more of in my life. A lot of them lined up well with my values and included fun, friendship, adventure, optimism, and so on.

I also made a list of my top goals today as well. When you make a list of your goals, make them really specific. What do they entail exactly, when will you achieve them… Also, make your goals big, huge, compelling. This way, you will never tire of them. Instead, your life will be driven by them. Every morning will be a new day in which you come one step closer. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be realistic, however. Remember, though, that you are capable of much more than you have given yourself credit for in the past.

Be sure that your goals are in alignment with other goals. If your goal is to work really hard, long hours to make a lot of money so that you can retire and spend time with your family, maybe you just need to reset your goal to spending more time with your family and don’t worry about the working long, hard hours. It’s not in alignment with spending time with your family, which is what you ultimately wanted.

After I made my very specific, detailed list of goals, I checked to make sure they made sense and worked well with my desired emotions and values. It was funny because I wrote down four big goals, and those four pretty much fulfilled every single one of my values and desired emotions in one way or another. I guess my subconscious knows what it is that I truly want. It’s great to make it clear to yourself, though. Write it down, figure it out as if this were a puzzle; because the next step will be the hardest part. Implementing it all. Working hard every day to achieve your goals. Making every microdecision throughout your day work in tandem to get you one step closer to your dream. What  can I do today to be one step closer to my goals? Visualize your goals deeply, every day. If you’re not doing so, they are really just vague desires, and that’s not what you want or need to achieve these big dreams that you are making a reality.

Now go out there and make your dreams come true!

The Paradox of Choice

choiceLast night I watched the TED Talk by Barry Schwartz called The Paradox of Choice. In it, he talks about how in western industrial societies, we have a plethora of choice when it comes to so many things due to modern progress. In our culture, we assume that having a lot of choice allows us to have better things, which in turn will make us happier. But Schwartz challenges that assumption.

In the talk,  we are given the example of shopping for a pair of jeans, and how not too long ago you would go to a department store to buy jeans in the one style that was available. Now when you go shopping you’ll find boot cut, skinny, baggy, tapered, high waist, low waist, etc. All in all, if you go to a store today to buy a pair of jeans, you will probably find ones that fit you better than you could have found 20 or 30 years ago. However, the consumer usually leaves the store wondering if they could have made a better choice had they bought a different type of jeans, as if there were some opportunity cost they had to pay by walking away with the jeans they did, even if their decision was a perfectly good one.

He also makes examples of decisions we must make in life that don’t involve purchases, but that are important life decisions. We are often left on our own to make decisions, without any preformed ideas of what is the best course of action. This leaves people confused, depressed, feeling as if the decisions they have made in the past were all wrong. They have chosen a wrong identity, are unclear about questions about family and career. We constantly have to make decisions and become consumed by them. We are always connected and wondering if we should answer a call, write an email, do some work, and are not present in the activities in which we are involved in that moment.

So in the end Barry Schwartz says that some choice is good, but all this choice we have now creates paralysis rather than liberation. People find it difficult to choose at all when given too many choices. People are more depressed than when there were less choices.

As I continue my self development process, I’m trying to consider how this has affected my own life. I’ve found myself questioning decisions, even when they were minor ones. I’ll give an example. I’ve been on a skin care kick lately after running into a website dedicated to it. I decided I want to look radiant, too, and realized after reading people’s posts that it’s not necessarily the most expensive products that work the best. I thought that sounded great, and rather than trying by trial and error a hundred products over time, I can read their posts. It became obvious which products were the most recommended and the price was right, so I bought them. Within a few days, I already felt like my skin looked so spectacular. Yet, I still find myself visiting the site to see what other products people are recommending, just in case I didn’t buy the best of the bunch. Why would I do that when the price was right and the results have been great? It only consumes my time, my energy, and takes me away from being present with whatever else I’m doing.

I guess the lesson here for me comes back to the meditative mindset. I need to remain more present and enjoy or be focused on what it is I am doing. I can stop being consumed by things and wondering if there was a better deal, because it’s only giving me paralysis. In some cases I am so paralyzed by thought I can’t make a decision, and so a decision is never made.  It’s the micro-decisions in life that lead to wonderful things, and I don’t want to pass those up because I was like a deer in headlights, caught in a cycle of fear about making the wrong choice.

How to create forms in Rails 4

First create models for the resources that you want and make sure to run your migration.

Then, you will need to create your corresponding controller. Say for example this is a resource :students , as will be defined in your routes.rb file.

Your controller will look something like this:

In your views, create a students folder and a file called new.html.erb and create a form:

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Adaptive Design

adaptiveSince I’m writing a lot about responsive sites, it may be good to write a post about adaptive design. It’s a little different than just a fluid design, because with adaptive design, you are literally creating different markup for various sizes of media devices. You’ll make use of break points and media queries. Adaptive design is responsive design, but not all responsive design is adaptive.

Breakpoints are the points at which your design breaks down. That just means if the user’s screen size is below a defined dimension, their device will be directed to the correct CSS rules accordingly, so they will receive a totally different layout. For example, an iphone has a resolution of 480 x 320 px. Adaptive design is how you get websites that look more like mobile apps. If you have built your design with a fluid layout (in em’s and %), then you can set your media query for mobile to a max-width of 480px because we know when we turn the iphone to portrait mode, the design will adapt because it’s fluid. Media query was developed with in CSS3 and it tells the browser which rules to use based on the screen size. I talk about this is a different blog post.

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Make Use of em and % for Responsive Sites

fluidlayoutI’m on a responsive grid kick lately. From using Bootstrap to to creating your own grid. Your users will be using a variety of devices to access the sites you develop, and so your design will need to respond accordingly. It all comes down to using the em and %. Em’s and percentages make scalable stylesheets. It’s so awesome. So a percentage is a value based on its parent element and an em is just a way of  calculating pixels. Say, for example, you have a container div set to the width of 90%, which may look like about 940px on a computer screen. Inside of that you have a header and a body div. Now, you can set the width of those to 100%, which would be 940 pixels, but scalable on smaller devices. The same works for fonts. If your body font is set to 16 pixels (the default for most browsers), then you can set your h1 to 18 pixels by declaring your h1 text as a size of 1.5em.

Here is a handy little tool to help you figure out the percentage of your divs.

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Is designing in Photoshop a thing of the past?

Just a few years ago, it was pretty commonplace to sketch out a wireframe on a piece of paper, then design your site in Photoshop, and then slice your images and make it into an HTML/CSS document. I feel like we’re sort of getting away from that, and I think there are some good reasons why.


Nowadays when you design, you have to keep a fluid concept in mind because you’re probably designing for computer screens, tablets, and mobile devices. You may have three separate CSS files, or you may have a completely fluid grid that changes constantly as the screen is resized. With that in mind, it doesn’t really make sense to make all of your designs in Photoshop. It makes much more sense to have a general wireframe in mind, perhaps draw that out in black and white on a piece of paper, of you could do that in Photoshop, but it wouldn’t be the exact design. Then, start doing the actual design work in your text editor/browser. Then you can see any quirks in the design as it shifts and design accordingly.

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Responsive Grids Using Bootstrap

Bootstrap is the most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile-first projects on the web. Mobile-first means that the websites are designed for mobile in mind first, and then respond to larger screens as needed, with minimal development complication. There are a few things to keep in mind when building a bootstrap site.

In the head section of your website, you  will need to include all of these:

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Installing jQuery – Best Practice

If you choose to use jQuery in a project, you will need the jQuery .min file, found here: I definitely recommend using the production version, and it is compressed and will make the download time much faster. As a matter of fact, the fastest way for a user’s computer to download the jQuery file you need so that the site can perform the jQuery functions you are calling, is to use the Google CDN, because their servers are probably going to provide the information faster than yours is, plus if their computer already has that version cached from another site, it will recognize it and load very fast. (Side note – make sure to add the http: to the CDN link). You may also want to include a copy on your server as well, however, in case you or somebody else loads the page and is using it later without an internet connection. The best way to tell the browser to download the Google CDN first, and if that doesn’t work to use the local copy is to use this code in your file before your body closing tag:

That’s it! It’s very simple to do this best practice.