504. How to Create and Use a Medical Resume


I just got a text from my dear childhood friend and college roomate, S, whose baby sister had brain surgery for a tumor several years ago and who is being advised by her medical team to get another surgery done by EOY.  She has an active tumor and symptoms (particularly eyesight) have been aggravated lately.

She was looking for someone to ask a second opinion so of course I was like, I LOVE my neuro.  Go see her.  And then I cried my eyes out.  I still am.  But then I figured I’d publish this post bc this method has been very helpful to me especially as I’ve met new docs and sought their advice concerning specific issues or procedures.

Update:  No labral tear hip surgery for me, at least right now.  Coach R’s “Physical Therapy” is working.  He’s an Athletic Trainer/medical professional and all and knows what he’s doing (it helps that he’s got almost 3 years of data on my gait and is also a Strength Coach) but I maintain that he’s totally just making this up in his head.  Which is okay (I just like to say sassy things) since it’s totally working.  Sometimes I’m like, Owww!  and he just looks at me with the slit eyes like, We should do this anyway.  And one day my right leg FREAKED OUT so he just held the patella in place or something and made me finish the set.

If you’re wondering how Trainer D and Smurfette are doing, they are fine and dandy.  Except Animal Muppet yelled at me for a WHOLE HOUR a couple weeks ago bc he found out I had stopped eating food again.  :/  Quote from yesterday:  How are your neurotransmitters?   Seriously, D – I am so embarrassed for you right now.  Who asks that sort of thing?  I don’t even know what that means.

Meanwhile, I’m much more interested in the fact that Smurfette is rocking a new long bob after donating her curls to Locks of Love.  High 5,  Smurfette!!

I’m also starting a podcast.  I will launch formally when I send my next email update.  But check it out on iTunes.


Back to the Medical Resume thing:  Mine has become much shorter  over the years.  Assume the doc will only glance at it briefly.  What do you want them to know, and what do YOU want to know?  Go in there with a goal (e.g. Information on Pros and Cons of X, Images and Tests, advice on how to approach a problem) and signal intent to pursue this seriously by managing your own time and the doctor’s schedule by accomplishing your agenda and getting what you need with a minimum of fuss.  If you lay it out on paper they know you mean business and can serve you better and faster.  Also, bring a friend or family member so you can compare notes later.

This image is an example – it’s what I used for my Ortho Surgeon.

I know, I know – the majority of the population will not need a Medical Resume.  But there are some of us who are so EXCRUCIATINGLY COOL that we will have a template we customize for each new doctor.  This is a tool you can use to help yourself get the level of care you want.  It’s also a great idea for a family member of friend to do for a loved one who is not able to create one for him/herself, and also for people facing a new diagnosis.  It keeps everyone on track at the appointment, especially if you’re new at this and nervous, or an old hand…frankly, I’m ALWAYS nervous.

Note to D:  This is YOUR body and your decision.  The best thing you can do is get insight from professionals.  It’s scary and it stinks, but be guided by their expertise even if it’s not what you want to hear.  You want the best outcome for the long term.  I’m sorry.  SNIFF.  Big Hugs and lots of prayers for you and your whole family, xoxo ning.

409. How To Change Channels Mentally

Watching TV w Kpop on my first day home, 6.23.11.  I couldn't eat the popcorn in the cup so I just held it to keep her company.

Watching TV w Kpop on my first day home, 6.23.11. I couldn’t eat the popcorn in the cup so I just held it to keep her company.

There is a huge TV screen in front of the AlterG at The Running Gym. Actually, there are screens all over the place. I learn a lot about what’s going on in the world from my time there. Sadly, though, my sessions often intersect with a time when a certain show comes on that I don’t like. “R, will you please make that lady go away? She makes me nervous,” I’ll ask Coach R to change the channel for me.

Today a nice girl helped me and was zipping me in and messing with the remote. Coach R came over. “She really loves the [Talk] show,” he offered helpfully. Side note: thanks for forwarding my interests, Coach R. I default to watching sports since it’s pretty benign except for the time they were showing crashes from the Tour de France. “Do you know what channel ESPN is on?” my helper queried. “Do I know what channel ESPN is on,” Coach R echoed scornfully.

And then I happily enjoyed my solitude for half an hour. Fun times were had by all. By “all” I mean myself and Michael Phelps since there is an autographed Sports Illustrated cover parked in front of the Alter G and most of the time it’s often easier for me to train my eyes on the gold medals instead of the TV screen above. Coach R mostly gives me a wide perimeter and observes from a distance so it’s usually me and Michael time.

In the early days at RIO (3rd Hospital) I preferred to think everything was a dream instead of grappling with the idea that this bad thing had actually happened to me. One day at lunch I asked Mommy for permission to “change the channel” in my head (I posited that we were stuck in a really bad reality TV show). “I don’t understand,” poor Mommy said. “I don’t need you to understand, I just need you to say ‘yes’.” “Yes,” Mommy immediately said bc she is nice like that.

My attempt to mentally change channels failed but it’s still a useful analogy. I listened to a message by Chip Ingram yesterday and remembered how good he is at breaking things down so I can understand them. Re. how to face the future in times of doubt one of the steps he offered was to itemize the things God has done for you and then then this list will lend itself to meditating on the kind of Person God is to have planned and executed them. You’re moving from His acts ==> His ways.  Great tip, CI – Thanks!

268.  Prayer Detox for Beginners

268. Prayer Detox for Beginners

I have really enjoyed using my AlterG or home cardio time to Prayer Detox. But I’ve felt greater anxiety about the future lately and it really helped me to make a list of blessings and then think about the character of God based on that list. First on the list: meeting M at RIO. Seriously? WHAT was that about? As Timmy said when I told him she found me bc her neighbors are my friends from my OR church, “There’s a ‘small world’ and then there’s Ning’s world.” (Ann vs. Ning FAQ) Remember that note I wrote myself?

368.  Commiserating

368. Commiserating

…[He has] sown seeds for your encouragement along the way. As these seeds grow and come into bloom you’ll be surprised and delighted that the details of your New Life have been so carefully and lovingly planned. Remember to thank Him that you can trust Him with your happiness.

359.  Running With Myself

359. Running With Myself

Sometimes I forget. But I love that getting back on track is an attainable exercise that doesn’t wear out with use.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

170. How to Interview Well

This was my after my undergraduate ceremony at Georgetown (COL '02)  V's parents brought us all leis from California.

This was after my undergraduate ceremony at Georgetown (COL ’02). V’s parents brought us all leis from California.

A friend of mine is preparing for her first Business School interview next week. We discussed it in my old life when she first started researching the B-School option, and now she’s going for an interview – yay! So I’ve been thinking about the interview process and things to pay attention to because your interviewer will likely take note of these things. I used to interview for the support staff at my first job (Side note – I loved being part of and working with the support staff at my first job. E.g. Ice cream bars on the roof at 3pm!! Be there or be square…we really did work, too, I promise. Breaks were good for our productivity.), as well as for Georgetown MSB Admissions (MSB = McDonough School of Business). So these tips are pretty universal, whether you’re interviewing for graduate school or a job.

Tips for Interview Success:


  • Wardrobe and Grooming: Dress appropriately – a dark colored suit (a skirt-suit is safest for women depending on how conservative the environment is, but I have never looked askance at a smart-looking pant suit), good shoes (closed-toe for women is safest, please wear neutral hose – going bare-legged, although culturally acceptable, is still a little risky in my mind for interviews), clean hair, teeth, nails – ALL of your body parts should be clean.
  • Breath Courtesy: Eat a breath mint before you go into the interview, but don’t chew gum since it’s likely you’ll forget to spit it out or will have no way to gracefully do so before the interview, and of course, chewing gum during an interview = bad manners.
  • Preparedness: Bring an extra resume. The interviewer will likely have a copy of your resume (s)he is working from, but in case it has been misplaced, it looks good to be prepared as you whip a fresh, crisp, copy out of your portfolio. As you sit down you could even ask if you could give your interviewer a copy of your resume – again, preparedness looks good, and bringing a resume copy signals that you are ready for this – you have done your homework and intend to knock their socks off.
  • First Impression: As you meet and greet for the first time, do so with confidence – look them squarely in the eye and give them a firm handshake. (Not too firm – be conscious of any rings that could cause pain.) Smiling is good – just be confident and friendly – no grinning like a Cheshire cat.
  • Perspective – You’re probably nervous. If you aren’t, you might think that this interview is just for “practice” until you get the interview you really want. But take it seriously anyway. You want to be offered the position even if you don’t ultimately intend to take it. It is immensely confidence-building to have the power of refusal, and you’re not going to capitalize on this “practice” opportunity unless you bring your A-game. That said, if you’re super-nervous, don’t be. You could be interviewed by an HR person, the hiring manager, an Admissions officer, or a potential peer. None of these scenarios should intimidate you. No matter who shows up to interview you remember that they’re just doing their job or trying to help their school while they prepare for their next class, so your best bet for interview success is to make this a pleasant and painless experience for all parties involved. Yes, your interviewer is often the Gatekeeper who must pass you to the next round – but your interviewer is also a person with a multitude of home/work stressors you are not privy to. So if you get the vibe that today is a harried day, don’t sweat it and don’t take it personally – just be the professional, winning, hassle-free person you are and see what happens.

The Interview Itself

  • The Story Package: I almost always led with the question, “Why Georgetown, Why now?” It was the shortest way to ask, Why do you want to do this? Why is this the right time? And why would this school be the right place? If the person could not answer this question there was little hope for the rest of the interview. There are lots of lists you will find online for interviews questions, but if you’re pressed for time – concentrate on the story package. Think of it as a “package” – it’s your story, so you know it well enough to package and present it verbally in a concise (try 2 minutes and under) and attractive way. Short and punchy is good – because you want to make it easy for your interviewer to remember key words and ask follow-up questions. Also, if your story is too long and wandering, you don’t know your story and your interviewer cannot possibly be interested in it, sorry. So brush up on the story package, seriously.
  • Examples of how Amazing You Are: You could be asked a more traditional interview question like, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or you could be posed with a behavioral-interview question like, “Tell me about a time when….” Be prepared for both options – know one-word answers to questions like the strengths/weaknesses classic, but file example stories showcasing how amazing you are in your brain to be brought out at the appropriate moment. Topics include, goal setting, how you met the goal, how you lead/follow, how you handled a tough situation at work in the past etc. The interviewer wants to know how you think and handle situations, and the stories give you credibility. Prepare these stories beforehand, and draw the conclusions clearly, e.g. I showed perseverance, discretion, leadership in this situation when…, since you want to make it easy for your interviewer to take away the point you want them to glean from your story. Don’t leave them to their own devices.
  • Thank You: If you’ve prepared for your interview, shined your shoes and reformatted your resume so it’s fabulous, sit back and relax. Once you’ve done the interview there’s little to do but send a thank you note. And yes, please do send a thank you note. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think this is a good practice. Nice stationery (e.g. thick card stock, monogram optional) is another way to make a good impression, but I’ve written email thank-yous in more casual settings, and the most important thing is to write some sort of thank you. I’ve received thank you cards on the same day sometimes, which could only mean that the person had stashed some stationery in his/her portfolio and wrote/delivered the card before leaving the building. Preparedness points!

If there is another reason for you to follow up with your interviewer, definitely do so – you want to show that you remembered and are conscientious about these things. Otherwise, leave it alone for a while – you don’t want to appear too antsy or be a nag.

Before you leave the interview, graciously inquire as to when a decision might be made, and say, “I’ll follow up with you [time frame].” This puts the ball in your court so you don’t feel nervous about calling later, (like you’re nagging), and it also gives the interviewer the option to say, Oh, no – don’t worry about it. We’ll call you by XYZ. Either way you’ve done your duty.

In the event that you do not get the job or the admissions slot, it’s okay. Rejection happens. I know it well. And you know what? When you get rejected you focus on the next position on your list and go for it. As my Daddy told me many moons ago when I tried peddling my purses around town (this was before Etsy), but no one wanted any, “Tomorrow, the sun also rises.”

Also of interest:

233. How to Prepare your Child for Kindergarten

How to Prepare your Child for Kindergarten | Ann Ning Learning How

Isn’t it hysterical that I’m writing a post that answers the question, “How do I prepare my child for Kindergarten?”  I should have posted this earlier – the beginning of the summer, perhaps.  But, as you know, I’ve had a rather rough time pulling it together lately.  So if you’re scrambling to buy crayons, paste and safety scissors, take heart!  I’m running behind, too – and if you haven’t been able to do all these things for the past several months, there’s no time like the present for establishing some good habits.

159.  Teacher

159. Teacher

Seeing that I have no biological children (when I refer to “my children” I actually mean my nephews and nieces, or my friends little ones), I needed to access the experts in my network to write this post.  (If you can’t BE the Ninja, KNOW the Ninja(s).) Happily, I was able to consult two of my favorite educators, F (“That’s good remembering.”) and K (my ESL co-teacher).    They both specialize in Kindergarten and the list of preparatory activities is almost verbatim from them.  Thank you so much xoxoxo!!  (Side note – Ooh! I should have consulted Mrs. B, but I forget what grade she teaches.  Grr.)

Before I write the list down I just have to tell you one story:  I showed up at F’s school a couple of times with my visiting basket in tow.  While the kids were working at their seats she’d roll around on a little wheeled stool like PTs use in the gym.  And then it was circle time!  One day F was trying to help the kids remember the letter “S” since they had been focusing on this part of the alphabet lately.

How to Pack a Visiting Basket || Ann Ning Learning How

F:  “Who can tell me a word that starts with ‘S’?”

An adorable little guy with a round face and tiny glasses raised his hand, “Oooh, oooh, oooh!”  (He was so excited.)  F called on him.

Marshmallow!” he announced.

Oooh!  So close!”  F encouraged him, (and then listed some other words actually beginning with “S”).

I, for one, did not see the proximity of “marshmallow” and “words beginning with ‘s’,” but F later explained to me that they had done an activity with marshmallows earlier and had focused on the “sh” sound.  Okay, I thought, I’ll give him that – although it helped that the kid was super cute.  I love that story for several reasons – but it’s also a good reminder for me re. what to pray for in a teacher for my children – you want an educator who will build them up and also teach accurately so the students aren’t afraid to raise their hands and you’re confident they’re actually learning things.

As we gear up for the new school year I’m sending a big hug to all my teacher friends!  And to my parent friends who are sending their children to kindergarten for the first time, xoxoxo!  Be strong – you and your kid can do this!  And to all the kids in my life who are making sure their lunchboxes and backpacks are ready, have a great year!

How to prepare your child for Kindergarten

  1. Don’t rush it.  Age is not the only consideration for starting school.  And your child will be in school for 13 plus years.  You want them to love it not dread it.
  2. Pray for the right placement and teacher for your particular child.  There are lots of options for the “school” experience.
  3. Remember your child is not perfect – hold them accountable for actions and reactions and resist the temptation to make excuses or bail them out.  Just lend support and encourage facing issues head on.
  4. Encourage friendships and play dates with 2-4 children.  Sharing is vital – it is a 2-way street as is handling conflict.  Give opportunities for other adults to be authority figures besides mom and dad on occasion.
  5. Read, read, read from early days right up thru the years of school.  Read to your child and encourage them to read to you (even if it is rote memory!!).  Enjoy pictures and words and play games with new and interesting words (rhyming, beginning and end sounds, synonyms and antonyms). 
  6. Practice “Lap Time” – This goes with number 5.  Do lots of activities that involve your little one sitting on your lap.  Reading is wonderful, making up stories from your imagination, just talking – focusing your attention on your child will help his/her speech patterns develop.
  7. Encourage kids to tell you stories – you write and they illustrate.  They can even begin to fill in some words as they learn to write.
  8. If you are working with them on letter sounds give them opportunity to see in print and identify sounds.  An alphabet book is fun – cutting out letters and pictures that start with that sound (magazines, newspapers, hand-drawn and printed)
  9. If the child demonstrates interest in writing letters encourage proper formation – consider the style that will be taught in your school so it doesn’t have to be relearned.  Lower case letters are more important than caps because that is what we read the most of. Check out “Spalding” – a see, hear, say and write method.
  10. Count everything you come in contact with and play with numbers.  Learn to recognize 1-10 and understand the value of each.  Higher math will come later but story problems of everyday things are fun to intro addition and subtraction concepts plus basic problem solving.  Encourage your child to think about the process not just memorize facts.  Play table game that encourage counting and color recognition.
  11. Do lots of painting and coloring (crayons, markers and colored pencils).  Encourage freehand drawings. Experiment with mixing colors.
  12. Teach how to hold scissors, cut straight lines and curves.
  13. Teach them to tie shoes and be responsible for a coat and backpack.
  14. Have routines for clean-up and helping times – small tasks to larger ones give a sense of belonging and responsibility.  Develop a team mentality.
  15. When classroom time comes do volunteer in the class on a regular basis.  Be sensitive to teacher suggestions of what type of schedule or tasks will be helpful and not interfere with your child’s adjustment to classroom routines.

P.S. Go watch this video on the Discovery School in Burundi (click on the image).  I had several dreams about the D School while I was in the ICU.  I was trying to figure out a spreadsheet issue in my dream since that’s what I was doing when I was actually there.  I recently found this video and I emailed JCJ saying I really don’t know how everyone ISN’T interested in this.  The value proposition is clear – they are able to offer a very high level of schooling to people at a very low price.  Essentially they are making dynamic, multi-lingual education available to a population that grew up with the “chalk and talk” method and  for whom the education system was simply absent from the cultural landscape during the war.

Discovery School| Burundi | Ann Ning Learning How


329. Operation Clean

Operation Clean |Ann Ning Learning How

A couple of weeks ago DGI spoke on Sunday night and I laughed inwardly when he said how he likes to make graphs and charts etc. We appear to be cut from the same cloth. I understand a concept better if I can summarize it visually in a PowerPoint slide. Examples:

128.  Parking 101

128. Parking 101

204.  Food for Thought when Launching A Business part 2:  Competitors and your Product's Supriority

204. Food for Thought when Launching A Business part 2: Competitors and your Product’s Superiority

122.  All Abord the Dizzy Train!

122. All Abord the Dizzy Train!

Today I’m sharing my new favorite pursuit, attractively summarized in an easy to share digital square: Operation Clean. As indicated in Operation Hospitality

219.  Operation Hospitality

219. Operation Hospitality

I am building a skillset aimed at independent living. In addition to being able to cook I need to be able to clean things. There are things I might always need help with, but some things I’ve progressed to be able to do on my own. YEAH!

The key to this is preparation. I’ve read (in my old life, primarily) that if you’re dealing with some new circumstances, e.g. disability, you need to be more organized than ever. I’ve found this to be painfully true. It’s akin to my inability to tolerate “background” noise – my mind cannot process several sounds at once, or a loud sound unrelated to my current task. It’s excruciating – partly because I get jumpier when things are noisy, and also because I get frustrated because if I’m trying to do XYZ the noise level is one of several circumstances that must fall into alignment to ensure proper execution. Or any execution, really. I like to get things DONE, so when this doesn’t pan out (for a reason that was a non-issue in my Old Life) my insides go Grrrr.

Anyway, I’ve recognized simple cleaning tasks as life skills crucial (like cooking) to Recovery. I never used to plan out daily tasks in my old life. I just earned a living, enjoyed life, and cleaned things when they needed to be cleaned. The problem with this philosophy now is that by the time something needs to be cleaned it’s often too late – the chances of all necessary circumstances (e.g . are my supplies gathered, does my back hurt) falling into place are minimal. So I settled on a schedule with Fun Alliteration! I think I had Laura Ingalls Wilder in the back of my mind when I settled on this. Except wash day was Monday at the Little House if I recall correctly.

FYI, this system has been working well for me (as long as I take appropriate breaks) as I’ve pursued it over the past month+. One additional thing I’ve learned is that in the same way that I have a lower tolerance level for sound I have a lower tolerance level for things. The fewer things I can live with on my bathroom vanity the fewer things I have to lift up when I clean it. It also really helps me carry things if I have a clear space to set things/my hand on so I can adjust my balance and travel a longer distance. It has taken me a couple of years to be able to do things like de-clutter my desk. Prior to this point I just lived with whatever was on it because it takes a certain amount of skill to pick even small things up and put them in different places. You could be limited by the inability to stretch and reach safely – I’m learning how to carry things under the supervision of professionals and feel confident enough to do it at home, too. If you’re concerned about throwing your back out or breaking something while you’re trying to put things away please don’t risk it – ask for help.

When I woke up and started to think the situation might be real I apologized profusely to Mommy because my suitcase was still on the floor of my bedroom and my guest room was a raging mess because it was full of boxes etc. I had received from Amazon (I ❤ Prime) in preparation for Africa. Mommy said not to worry about it, of course, and that my sister Boo Boo had rectified the situation speedily when she came to visit and slept in my guest room. Apparently I had a much higher clutter-threshold then :).

PS. re. Tuesday on the schedule above: I’ll elaborate on my interpretation of “Green Clean” next week.

326. Intentional Visiting

Intentional Visiting | Visiting 101 part 3| Ann Ning Learning How

I so enjoyed going to the Rise Up Conference. I heard many edifying messages, but I was particularly blessed by Mr. T’s talk on “Visitation” – I’m referring to it here as “visiting” since “visitation” might be a culture-specific term not immediately understandable to everyone. I wrote a two-part series on How to Visit a while ago (linked images below), so let’s say this is Part III.

161.  Visiting 101 - part I

161. Visiting 101 – part I

166.  Visiting 101 - part II

166. Visiting 101 – part II

The Visitation seminar “worked” because Mr. T has major street cred in this department. His recommendations were born from vast experience. He and MMN were the ones who showed up super early at the hospital when H and J had their tonsils out. I was also privileged to receive a visit from Mr. T the first time I was hospitalized as an adult.

I caught pneumonia as a freshman at Georgetown and when I went for an x-ray they saw that my lungs were cloudy. So off I went to The Place’s main hospital and stayed for a week. There was no manual extraction of fluid, so my job was to just hang around, eat things, and get better. I called Mrs. R. from my hospital bed – “Hey, Mrs. R – guess where I am,” I rasped cheekily. Mr. T was in our area that weekend so he came with a bunch of my friends for a brief visit.

The most important notion I gleaned from his seminar was the idea of intentionality in visiting. I’ve thought about it more, and one of the biggest challenges of visiting is knowing what to say.

When I first got sick my friends consulted each other regarding what to write in the cards they were sending me. Sorry, I’m tired and don’t want to think of a euphemism: My brain had just bled and they didn’t know if I’d live or die. Writing a card was the only thing many of them could do (although later, some of them actually flew out to OR to see me – thanks, guys!). I often have trouble wording a birthday or thank you card – so this must have been a real challenge. Just remember, one friend said, you don’t know when the card will get there. Another friend asked Magic B what to write and he just said, Oh, I already wrote mine – I told her she has NO CHOICE but to get better.

Okay, that’s one way to address the situation. I remember poor Magic B was quite broken up the time I caught pneumonia so my brain bleed must have really upset the apple cart. That’s why I told him, Don’t be sad, k? the first time I saw him at church a few days after I flew home.

Anyway, back to visiting…a huge hurdle is “What do I say?” Mr. T recommended that you prepare something to share and be ready to pray together. He also emphasized the importance of being mindful of the time – for someone who’se really sick you could call ahead to see if they’re receiving visitors and reassure the family, I’ll be there for X minutes. That way you won’t overtax the person who’s ill, you’ve set the family at ease by managing their expectations, and you must decide what you want to say in that X minutes. (PS. Visit length is guided by the context and your sensitive evaluation of what the visitee can handle.) IMHO if you’ve got a serious time constraint you’d better not fiddle around – just go straight to the Word bc that’s what they need.

The assumption here is a basic proficiency level in scriptural encouragement. To be able to share something from the Word you have to be in the Word yourself. Ideally, you’d have a variety of things ready to share as the occasion requires. But don’t be intimidated. This is like learning a foreign tongue so you can travel abroad. Impeccable grammar and a broad command of illustrative language are not requirements here – important ideas are often communicated in monosyllables. I’ve advocated being ready to share or read, but I haven’t thought about intentionality until Mr. T mentioned it. I will add, though, that it’s crucial to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. You don’t prepare something and then insist on sharing it regardless of the circumstances (nor was he suggesting that – I’m just spelling it out).

Automatically adapting your own experience and/or what you’ve prepared to share to someone’s situation could be dangerous. Even if you’ve undergone a very similar trial it’s safest to understand that it is not identical and you cannot know what it’s like to be in their shoes at this moment. If your experience really is relevant and you do share, I’d recommend some verbal hedging that acknowledges that your situations aren’t the same – there are likely transferrable concepts but hedging will increase your credibility and the likelihood that your statements will be favorably received.

I hope these posts demystify visiting and help you get started before it becomes a lost art. It’s not scary, I promise! The real starting point is to make friends. That way, if someone’s in a position to be visited you won’t feel weird about it since they’re your friend.

Before I woke up R used to visit me and she’d sit by my bed and whisper, “Don’t be scared, Ning.” (Sniff.) When I started to come around I recognized her from my Monday Bible Study and it didn’t occur to me that this new context was very strange indeed. I forget if I told her this, or if it was just mental, but during all those visits I remember thinking, “I’m glad it was you.”

309. How to Teach Stewardship

How to Teach Stewardship | Ann Ning Learning How

A couple of weeks ago we were so pleased to visit with J&R and their new baby, A. This was our first time meeting A so we were tickled pink. It was also just nice to chat with my friends since I don’t get to see them regularly. Somehow the conversation turned to John D. Rockefeller and I remembered one of my favorite letters ever – it’s from John Jr. to John III. I got a book several years ago from Costco – an anthology of letters from great Americans to their children on varying subjects ranging from I miss you (e.g. from a General to his son during wartime) to You had better pull it together right quick and study harder at school or ELSE. That book is in storage in Oregon now but the particular Rockefeller letter was easily found (thanks, Google!) on the Smithsonian website. It is from 1920 and details the terms on which John III (the 14-year old son) will receive an allowance from his dad (46-year old John Jr.).

Let’s just set the stage here and say that the Rockefeller family was not strapped for cash. If anything, the children might have been at risk for not understanding the value of money since their environment must have been characterized by abundance. John Jr., however, set about cultivating a stewardship-mindset in John III (who grew up to be the chairman of the board of the Rockefeller Foundation), as outlined in this letter. I love that John Jr. emphasizes accountability (proper records were always to be kept), neatness/clarity (good penmanship and figuring were required), giving, and saving. The gist is that there would always be “enough” – e.g. if John III wished to make a special purchase there was a pre-decided manner in which to make the request – however, it was made abundantly clear that he would have to give an account for every penny that passed through his hands.

May 1, 1920

Memorandum between PAPA and JOHN. Regarding an Allowance.

1. Beginning with May 1st, John’s allowance is to be at the rate of One dollar and fifty cents ($1.50) per week.

2. At the end of each week during which John has kept his accounts accurately and to Papa’s satisfaction, the allowance for the succeeding week will be increased ten cents (10¢) over the week just ended, up to but not beyond a total per week of two dollars ($2.00).

3. At the end of each week during which John has not kept his accounts accurately and to Papa’s satisfaction, the allowance for the succeeding week shall be reduced ten cents (10¢) from the week just ended.

4. During any week when there have been no receipts or expenditures to record the allowance shall continue at the same rate as in the preceding week.

5. During any week when the account has been correctly kept but the writing and figuring are not satisfactory the allowance shall continue at the same rate as in the preceding week.

6. Papa shall be the sole judge as to whether an increase or a decrease is to be made.

7. It is understood that at least Twenty Per cent (20%) of the allowance shall be used for benevolences.

8. It is understood that at least Twenty Per cent (20%) of the allowance shall be saved.

9. It is understood that every purchase or expenditure made is to be put down definitely and clearly.

10. It is understood that John will make no purchases, charging the same to Mama or Papa, without the special consent of Mama, Papa or Miss Scales [a family governess].

11. It is understood that when John desires to make any purchases which the allowance does not cover, he will first gain the consent of either Mama, Papa, or Miss Scales, who will give him sufficient money with which to pay for the specific purchases, the change from which, together with a memorandum showing what items have been bought and at what cost and what amount is returned, is to be given to the person advancing the money, before night of the day on which the purchases are made.

12. It is understood that no governess, companion or other person in the household is to be asked by John to pay for any items for him, other than carfare.

13. To any savings from the date in this account which John may from time to time deposit in his bank account, in excess of the twenty per cent (20%) referred to in Item No. 8, Papa will add an equal sum for deposit.

14. The allowance above set forth and the agreement under which it shall be arrived at are to continue in force until changed by mutual consent.

The above agreement approved and entered into by

John D. Rockefeller Jr.
John D. Rockefeller III

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Who_Wants_to_Be_a_Billionaire.html#ixzz2ngnlDZlh

This is another favorite letter of mine: a real winner from Clementine Churchill to Winston C. Churchill during WWII

94.  Olympic Calm

94. Olympic Calm

303. Why No ‘Poo Didn’t Work for Me

My Attempt at No 'Poo | Ann Ning Learning How

“No ‘Poo” refers to the “No Shampoo” hair washing method. You use baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) instead, or only conditioner, or just water. My hair wasn’t washed for a month+ when I got sick. Thankfully I lacked the sensory awareness to know this frightful fact. My mother, however, watched my face as time wore on and said to herself, “That girl will NOT be pleased when she wakes up and sees the state of her eyebrows.” (Side note: I wasn’t. My issues make getting them tended to difficult, so F, maybe you could bring a pair of tweezers and help a sister out on Sun? Xxoo) This would have been the perfect time for me to try the No ‘Poo method since my hair “transitioned” while I was asleep, but it took another 6 months for me to learn to wash my own hair again and another couple of years for me to actually try baking soda and ACV.

So why go No ‘Poo?

  • Many people report their hair is AMAZING after saying goodbye to shampoo. It feels better and moves better, and the quality of hair health declines noticeably if (gasp!) you try conventional shampoo again.
  • It’s cheap – you don’t have to buy extra products at the store.
  • You wash your hair less often. If you try to go No ‘Poo, there is often a transition phase that reportedly lasts anywhere from a week to months. During Transition your hair is recovering from being constantly stripped by the sulfates etc. in normal shampoo, and your hair is learning to regulate the amount of oil it produces. You’re supposed to go as long as possible between washes (this was an idea I struggled with), so that when you’re fully transitioned your hair only wants to be washed every few days. I’ve read about people going for weeks, too. (No, thanks. I’d want to wash it anyway.)

I wanted this to work. I really did. But I’m dealing with a special set of circumstances here (motor skill deficit and a piece of missing skull) and Mommy made me start using regular shampoo again. But if you’re able bodied and interested in this method I’d recommend it. This is what I did:

  • July: Found out I was allergic to MCI, a chemical commonly used in soaps/shampoos. Discarded everything, started using an MCI and sulfate-free shampoo. Suffered with tacky-feeling hair for a month, although it didn’t look bad, it just felt bad. I’m not allergic to sulfates, but I figured I might as well not put that sort of thing on my head, plus I heard that sometimes sulfates can aggravate eczema so I tried sulfate-free shampoo since I was very itchy at the time. Note re. How to Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo: Sulftate-free shampoos do not lather. You need to shampoo twice. Just use a little the first time, scrub your scalp gently, rinse lazily, and then give it a good rub the second time around, during which you’ll get a little lather. I found this method during my desperate online research phase, and it helped, but I was never fully satisfied with my sulfate-free shampoo experience, even when I tried it again after my transition.
  • September: Started using baking soda/ACV with fabulous results until I realized that the lack of lather and my left-handed motor skill deficit prevented me from getting the left side of my head sufficiently clean. I tried being really careful and using my right hand to reach my left side but it was still hit or miss. I needed a stronger solution than most, so I used 3 Tb soda: 1 c water + a splash of tea tree oil for washing, and then a 1 Tb ACV: 1 c water conditioning rinse.
  • October-Nov: Decided that I need lather so I started using a pure castile liquid soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s). I diluted it so it was about ¼ c soap and ¾ water. The lather was fantastic and I loved that I could use one bottle for hair, face, and body. I did, however, stop using the peppermint flavor on my face. It was too “exciting” for my skin. After my soapy wash I’d use an ACV rinse.I’ve read things about how baking soda and castile soap are too harsh for your hair etc. but the alternatives, e.g. raw honey, coconut milk, weren’t options for me since I can’t be mixing and carrying things, and I don’t fancy the idea of using sweet food products in my shower.I started feeling flaky (blech – I was a serious devotee of Head and Shoulders in my old life, before I was allergic to it), but had good success with a tea-tree oil pre-treatment. About 30 minutes before I showered I’d combine a squirt of argan oil and a splash of tea tree oil and rub it all into my scalp. Daddy doesn’t like tea tree oil since it smells like kerosene to him and he’s afraid my head’s going to combust.
45.  Editing Reality

45. Editing Reality

When my castile soap routine was working well I got multiple compliments on my hair (people didn’t know I was doing anything different), and I was happy with the simplicity and results. After a month or two, though, my scalp got dry and itchy. Then CMD found a clump of dead skin cells near my scar. (Sorry, I know that’s gross.) So then I knew that I was unconsciously avoiding that part of my head even though I was trying really hard to remember to clean it. It still freaks me out – but it’s just like a baby’s soft spot. I just never touched it before I tried No ‘Poo. FYI they removed the piece of skull in case they had to go back in for more surgery, but they didn’t – Dr. Dogan got it all the first time – and then they didn’t need to put that piece back since the muscles are really strong and had already closed up. I didn’t need a plate or anything.

One night I started scratching that part of my head bc it felt like it was on fire, and I broke the skin. When I noticed blood on my fingertips I casually excused myself from my seat next to Tanpo (I was talking to him while he sat at the computer), and found Mommy in the kitchen. I asked her not to tell Tanpo (I guessed that he would have immediately shuttled me to the ER) and then she told me that she was displeased at the thought of blood coming out of my head, especially from that spot. So that’s when she told me to start using regular shampoo again. I got some with J a couple of weeks ago and my head feels good. I wish my foray into the No ‘Poo world had been more successful, but if you’re considering it, know that my experience is not representative and go for it.

Target Launch Tues Dec 10| Ann Ning Learning How

(209.) Food for Thought: When Launching a Business (Series Part 3) – Finances

Food For Thought (3) When Launching a Business - Finances | Ann Ning Learning How

Many people are artists, inventors, designers, visionaries and want to leave “bean-counting” to someone else with a fancy looking calculator and a pocket protector.  Incidentally, I endured much good-natured ribbing since I used to carry around my old high-school graphing calculator. My colleagues joked that it had nuclear code capability. I was attached to it, though, since I was used to the buttons and knew where they were without looking.  My other favorite device in B-school was my handy number pad (the USB kind you plug into your laptop).  I got made fun of for using that, too, but I stick by my assertion that it makes number entry SO much faster.

If you fall into the category of person who would be amused by my calculator and number pad the important thing for you to do in answering Question 3 (“How do I approach finances?”) is to start approaching finances somehow.  I’m not going to be picky here – just buckle down and start thinking about it.  Don’t be scared.  You HAVE to do this in order to sustain the creative activity you are made for, so just start and you’ll feel so much better – when you have addressed finances you’ll feel free to attend to your core business.

So these thoughts are just starting points to help you not feel overwhelmed if you’ve decided to get a grip on your business’s finances and are not sure where to start.  Let me break this into two goals:

  • Goal 1 (past-oriented records):  Keep your books clean so your accountant can work with them easily (I can’t help you here bc I always confuse debits and credits – accounting is not my forte).  Communicate with your accountant so you know what (s)he needs.  If you do not have a good accountant, make it a priority to get one – you need to be square with the government. Note:  If you cannot BE the ninja, KNOW the ninja.
  • Goal 2 (future-looking projections):  Get a good idea of your revenue and expenses so you know if you’re going to make money in the future or not, and what you have to do to turn a profit.
    • Expense Categories:  Decide on categories that encompass all of your expenses. This will allow you to track them accurately as you sort every dollar that goes out the door into piles, and then size the piles so you know how much it costs to keep your venture running.  Examples:  Travel & Entertainment, Continuing Education/Licensing, Materials, Office Space Rental, Office Supplies, etc.
    • Revenue Unit:  What is a good “unit” to work with?  Depending on the business it could be a burrito, a book, or the hourly rate for an evening of babysitting.
    • What are the costs attached to each unit?  What is your pricing scheme?  Per room, a % of costs, etc.?

 A note on Pricing:  Do your homework and know what the market value of your product/service.  What are your competitors charging?  If you charge above this you should be able to clearly point to the extra value your business provides – the surcharge is simply the monetization of that extra value.  If you are charging below market value you must make sure that a) this price cut is NOT perceived by your customers as a discount for a product or service of inferior quality, and b) you can make up the deficit by the increased volume of sales you’ll see because of your low price strategy.

The goal is not to break even – it’s to turn a profit.  But it might take a while for this to happen, and it would be good theoretically to know how many sales you must make to break even since it’s a good mental milestone.  You just want to make sure you’re not throwing money at a losing proposition for X years while your family goes hungry because you’re busy pursuing your dream but have counted the cost ineptly.  If your dependents are extremely supportive of your dream and are okay with making some sacrifices in order to see it become a reality, that’s wonderful – but you still want to have some sort of idea of how long they are going to have to tighten their belts so you can make an informed decision regarding whether or not to take the plunge.

49. Did she really just say that?

It’s time for me to self-illustrate, but I can’t this time because 100% of the profits from Learning How… (in any format or language) will go to a good cause.  I am not sure of the language to use – I mean to say that they will go to a government-recognized organization that is non-profit or not-for-profit.  The funds will not be going to the Charity of Me.  Although I’ve heard of many people who, when faced with unexpected illness, accept donations for their medical/living expenses – and this is a good thing since if you can’t work bc you’re injured/sick, where are you and your family supposed to get money from?  If I were in this kind of situation I’d tell you.  But I have been blessed to be in a situation that does not necessitate fundraising (at present). Instead, I’ll offer you a product (my “Memoirs”) in return for a price – it’s your decision whether or not to purchase.  As I’ve said before, there’s actually very little overlap between this blog and my “Memoirs” – I know, you’re like, Seriously?  What else could she possibly have to say?  Answer:  Many, many things.

To be clear, Ed Goes to D.C. and anything else I come up with are not part of my “Memoirs”  (right now I’ve got Volume 1 written, and am waiting for more stuff to happen so I can write Volume 2). All revenue will be categorized and recognized appropriately – don’t worry, Tanpo is going to help me.  One more thing – I mentioned different formats/languages in the paragraph above.  I have enlisted some multilingual friends who will graciously translate Learning How… into Mandarin and Spanish.  I also researched options for a low-tech audio book and figured it would be a good use for my voice if I did it myself, plus I’d love to offer an accessible option like this…but given my upcoming vocal cord intervention I’m having second thoughts.

Don’t you love how I’m referring to it as “intervention” and not “surgery”?  Aaah – the soothing use of euphemisms helps me face the reality that I’m going back to the hospital without really facing it.  But this is exactly what I’m telling you NOT to do – don’t practice avoidance like I do – just jump into the financial pool.  The shock of the water might take an adjustment but you’ll feel more comfortable once you just climb in.  Don’t just get your toes wet, either – do a cannonball.  Better you than me.  🙂




(204.) Food For Thought: When Launching a Business [Series part 2]

Launching a Business : (2) Competition & Positioning |  Ann Ning Learning How

Before you enter the field you want to know who’s already there and if your product/service is good enough to hold its own.  Do your homework!  The internet makes it easy to get a good start – Google, Amazon, etc. will give you an overview.  You should also go to some sites that people interested in your field congregate at and see what they’re talking about – e.g. is there a cool new product Moms are talking about on a popular Mommy blog?  Are tufted fabric headboards popular now, or do people like wooden ones?  How do men carry things when they travel without carrying a purse?  If the messenger bag is a popular solution, what kinds of options are already in the market?

If your offering is a product you could also go to the store and just look at what’s already on the shelves at local big box retailers.  Would yours be a compelling option to a consumer pushing a cart down that aisle?  (We’re suspending reality a moment and pretending you’re so amazingly fortunate as to have your product in a hard-to-break into distribution channel; seriously, though – if you can’t imagine your product being a fantastic option on that shelf you’ll have nothing to say to the stores’ merchandise buyers, so definitely ask yourself this question.

If your offering is a service make sure you know who your competitors are and why you can do the job better than they can.  There could be some debate on this point, but you probably don’t want to alienate your competitors by saying things like, “You are awful at what you do,” or telling prospective customers that everyone else is amazingly incompetent because it’s possible you could need their help in the future, or a collaboration might be in order on a project one day.  So play nice, but position yourself well so you can play hard.    You’re playing for keeps here – this is your livelihood we’re talking about, and you could have a family of people depending on you.

An easy way to visualize the playing field and your position on it is to draw a picture.  I think a concept exists for illustrating several attributes at once (a “spider chart”), but this is too intricate for me to dive into now.  For ease of use and clarity of thought, let’s look at a simple attribute chart.  Pick 2 attributes that are important and draw an x-y axis with negative space so you have quadrants.

To illustrate – let me refresh your memory on Parking 101.  This is not strictly an attribute map of a “playing field,” but I just want to show you what I mean by “negative space” and “quadrants” – sorry, I don’t know how to describe it.

Parking 101 | Ann Ning Learning How

Now put points on your attribute map representing the key players on the field and add one for yourself.  Are you alone?  Are people nearby?   Be able to explain why the attributes you’ve chosen are important, why it’s a good thing that you’re positioned where you are and why the proximity of your competitors is near or far.

Now it’s time for me to self-illustrate with Learning How...  I’m not going to use the names of any other books because I don’t want to pick on anyone and my visual issues have prevented me from doing the thorough reading/research you should do if you’re able – I’ve just skimmed the back of the books and tried to gather the information I could.  So here are my attributes:

I’m defining the field as the near-death/inspirational narrative book genre, and the two attributes I’m dealing with today are:

Attribute Map

1)  Readability:  Quality of the text is important because Learning How… is a book – people will experience it through reading.  There is a lot of good writing out there and a lot of bad writing.  Few people who have a real-life story they want to tell are equipped to write it themselves – many people often use a ghostwriter to help them tell their story since this action will result in a better quality product.  Good move, I think – it is a better decision to work with a professional who has a demonstrable command of the English language than to go it on your own and make your reader suffer through ill-thought out text.  Many people with a story to tell have amazing skills they have cultivated instead of writing, so it makes sense that they would enlist some professional help when the time came to write a book.

Have you ever read bad writing?  I have.  It’s like scraping fingernails on a chalkboard. You are bound to come up against it at work or school – the painfulness of these experiences are proof enough that you do not want to make your reader suffer.

Now I’m going to toot my own horn a bit for the purposes of this illustration:  I know how to write.  A bunch of MCPS Teachers and Professors at Georgetown (COL ’02) made sure of this and I hope that whatever I produce will be a credit to them in terms of the quality of writing.  My writing “voice” is what it sounds like if we were speaking face to face, at least that’s what I’m going for – this, plus occasional brain lapses that may or may not be related to the injury are my excuses for my grammatical errors and colloquialisms.  I told you I’d learn the grammar on Youtube on Monday before teaching it at ESL on Tuesday.  Overall, though, it’s a blessing that I can just talk/write and words come out because my impairments do not allow for a whole lot of revision.  Or any revision, really – so I’ve been told that the chapters of my “Memoirs” are kind of like blog posts.  I figure I’m okay with that since people have short attention spans and I can’t really weave together a cool structure at this point.  It is what it is.  And there’s also the problem of me being asleep for the first few chapters, so they’re necessarily short.  I have, however, addressed this issue by adding in some real-time updates written by Tanpo and Boo Boo (my sister, Ai Ai).

So there’s no ghostwriter here, and (I hope) no bad writing.  You’re getting this from the horse’s mouth.  (Not Ed, but me…it’s just an expression.)  There is no middleman – the thoughts are 100% raw from me to you.

2)  Palatability

By “palatability” I mean to what extent does a book appeal to general tastes.  The inspirational genre I’ve parked myself in often smiles on uplifting stories that make you feel good by illustrating the triumph of the human spirit.

I’m conflicted over this one.  In a way, Learning How… is extremely unpalatable – I mean how instead of sending me to the mission field God put me in a wheelchair.  (I usually do not verbalize this part of my medical history to providers since it’s rather a downer.)   But on the upside, being unpalatable puts Learning How… in a quadrant with few if any competitors.  This goes back to the “badness” concept.  In a certain way, I’m depending on people’s instinctive desire to rubberneck to drum up some interest.  So yeah – it looked really bad to me.  Before I woke up I mouthed the word “Why” a lot and for a few days I was thrashing about in my bed, clearly extremely agitated and kicking my legs since that was the only thing I could do.

That’s when Timmy told Ai Ai he thought she should go out to OR to be with me and support our parents, and she flew to PDX, expecting me to still be closed-eyed and upset.  But she was in for a SURPRISE!  Because I woke up the day before her arrival and when she walked in to my room at Vibra (2nd hospital) I was in the middle of PT and was able to give her a hug.  I was so loopy I thought I was dreaming so I just talked (very softly and laboriously) and laughed with her – business as usual!

So the part where I surprise my sister and we laugh like hyenas for 3 straight days is actually very palatable, but she had been steeling herself to be an emotional bolster for our family in a very unpalatable situation.

Upon reflection, my whole refusal to believe what happened is kind of sad (and unpalatable).  People told Mommy that they were deeply touched when Daddy wrote that email saying I had asked Mommy in the garden if we were dealing in reality and not a dream, and she told me it was for real.  In hindsight it is a little heartbreaking.  I honestly didn’t know and asked Mommy to tell me the truth.  I only half believed her, though – I decided later that if we were all in my dream of course she’d say this was reality.

So why read Learning How…?  Not to torture yourself because it’s like a wreck you can’t look away from.  Yes, this is one of those cases in which truth is stranger than fiction – but this really happened (wanna see Tanpo’s video montages?) and I’m just recording the events that unfolded.  So you’re in for the voyeurism/entertainment value occasioned by the severity of my illness and my refusal to believe what happened once I woke up and entered the Rehabilitation Process (and might have given a lot of people a (mildly) hard time).  Let me say again, this is not a feel-good story about the triumph of the human spirit.  It’s about how God took away my old life, eliminated the possibility of giving me the life I wanted, and how He gave me a heart transplant so I can look to the future with hope, not because of some promise of future good He communicated to me supernaturally before I woke up, but based on all of the publicly-available information I knew about in my old life and that was motivating me to go to Africa.

Pfewf – that was a long sentence, but I had to get that off my chest.  A few paragraphs ago I said I was “conflicted” over the attribute of “palatability.”  I’ve tried to explain above that Learning How… is, in a way, extremely unpalatable in that if you just look at what happened before Decision Day (when God answered all my questions on July 24, 2011), you’d have the script for a movie about why NOT to trust Him.  But if you follow the story a little longer you’ll understand why I think He was saying I did not forget you.  I did this on purpose.  You can trust Me. 

Still, the story is kind of…extreme.  I mean, if people read inspirational fare they want to feel good so they have more energy to face daily life– how will they relate to such a downer and such a statistically unlikely event? I’ll go into this more in a later post re. “Who are your customers?” but let me tell you why I’m taking this very unpalatable experience and saying it’s relatable: All the skills that help me cope in RecoveryLand I used daily to cope with school, work etc. in my old life.  There is no new knowledge here, nor was any “special” knowledge communicated to me in the Valley of the Shadow.  More to come!!

PS.  If you’re wondering when Learning How… will be publicly available, I’m aiming for Thanksgiving…(but that’s what I said last year, too)…I move kind of slowly now, but I’m trying, I really am.  xoxo

Part 1:  What is your elevator pitch?

Launching a Business : (1) Elevator Pitch |  Ann Ning Learning How