Sunday, November 24, 2019

Mental health and suicide prevention

Recently, in a middle school -level health class that I assist in from time to time, two wonderful speakers from the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) branch in Waukesha (Wisconsin) presented on the topics of mental health and suicide prevention. They shared with the class a number of valuable resources that youth and teens can turn to for help or simply to get some questions answered.

I, in turn, am sharing those resources here. Feel free to bookmark this page and share it with others, and never be afraid to seek help. Know that you are never alone. A special thanks to NAMI Waukesha for sharing these resources.

UPDATE, January 24, 2022 - I've recently added a number of additional resources to this page. Please feel free to bookmark this page and share it with others.

If you or someone you know or have encountered may be in a crisis:
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, or text 839863
  • The Center for Suicide Awareness: Text "HOPELINE" to 741741
  • Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888, or text "info" to 233733

Web sites:
  • The Virtual Hopebox
  • Headspace
  • Calm
  • My3

Bullying and Cyberbullying

What Should You do if Your Child is a Bully? - a comprehensive resource covering all aspects of bullying, from the blog at

Top Tips for Preventing Cyberbullying - a complete guide to cyberbullying presented by Sunshine Behavioral Health
Building Resiliency
From Brittanica Digital Learning comes this free, downloadable e-book, Raising Resilient Kids: Promoting Mental Health Through Social and Emotional Learning
Human Trafficking Clues
  • Accompanied by a controlling person or boss
  • Not speaking on her own behalf, avoids eye contact
  • Has a much older or old "boyfriend"
  • Shows signs of physical abuse, fear, overly submissive
  • Not free to come and go as she/he wishes
  • Sudden increase of expensive stuff
  • Carries multiple phones
  • Constantly late or absent from school
  • Ran away from home
Human Trafficking - Questions you can ask to help identify a victim
  • Can you come and go or leave [your job] if you want to?
  • Have you or your family been threatened?
  • Where do you sleep or eat?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat/sleep/go to the bathroom?
  • Are there locks on the doors/windows so you cannot get out?
  • Has your identification or documentation been taken from you?

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Being an entrepreneur in high school

Entrepreneurship for high school students

Recently, in a high school business course I assist in called Employability, I had the wonderful opportunity to offer some advice to a student on the subject of entrepreneurship. It developed into an engaging, fruitful conversation with him and a couple of his classmates sitting at his table.

This student loves rollerskating. Not rollerblading; not ice skating; but classic, old-school rollerskating. And I could see and hear the passion and excitement in his eyes and in his voice when talking about it. He loves meeting up with friends at the local skating rinks and giving them lessons and pointers.

Now, here's where I interjected with the topic of entrepreneurship. He was explaining to a couple of other young men at his table that his dream job right now would be to work at a rink as one of the people that get to skate all the time in those black-and-white striped referee shirts. I recommended to him that he instead consider starting his own business giving rollerskating lessons. If his rollerskating skills are as solid as he says they are, and if he genuinely loves the sport and teaching others how to roller skate, then he may as well go into business for himself. It's easy to create a Web site these days. Social media has made advertising and marketing affordable (virtually free), easy, and fun to do. And he can use the power of networking to find clients and others who can help him grow his business.

Additionally, because he would be owning and running his own business, he can set his own work schedule and decide for himself how much he wants to charge his clients for lessons. If he works for a business owned and manged by someone else (like one of the rinks in the area), he'll have to work when they want him to work, do what they want him to do, and he'll only earn whatever they think he should be paid. This can potentially be a far lower amount of money than he could make by being in business for himself.

I'm sharing this with all of you to get you thinking about possibilities - exciting opportunities - that perhaps you haven't thought of yet or given much consideration to. If there's something that you're really good at and genuinely love to do, then perhaps going into business for yourself, rather than performing all the work for someone else's benefit, is right for you. Just a thought.  

Now, it won't always be fun and easy. It's important that you understand that. Let's be realistic. It will take a lot of dedication and, at least for a while, putting in long and maybe odd hours. There will be stretches where there isn't any money coming in. There could be competition out there, and you'll have to find creative and innovative ways to stand out from that competition. But the many potential rewards sure make it all worth doing.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Money tips from Mark Cuban and Kevin O'Leary

Came across these two videos on YouTube this morning while browsing for retirement and financial literacy resources for high school and college students.

Here are some excellent money tips and life advice offered by Mark Cuban and Kevin O'Leary, both of Shark Tank fame.

Unsubscribing to marketing lists

Save money by unsubscribing to marketing e-mails and texts

It's hard not to be tempted by marketing e-mails and text messages. After all, they're designed for one purpose and one purpose alone - convincing you to buy whatever it is a company is selling. Unfortunately, the more you give in to temptation, the more likely it is that you'll be short when it comes time to pay for necessities like food and rent.

So, what is the easiest way to stop yourself from being tempted by marketing e-mails and texts? Simply unsubscribe to them. While the process may be lengthy if you're currently on several mailing lists, unsubscribing should help you save money if you're the kind of person who's easily tempted.

How to unsubscribe will depend on the particular set of e-mails or text messages you are receiving. Most marketing e-mails include an unsubscribe link somewhere near the bottom of the message, which, upon clicking, will remove you from the mailing list. Unsubscribing from marketing texts, on the other hand, is generally done by replying to the text with the word STOP.

Be aware that certain companies send personalized offers and coupon codes in their marketing e-mails and texts. If you rely on such offers or codes to save money, then you may wish to continue receiving marketing communications from those companies. If you are unsure about unsubscribing from a particular company, carefully examine their past communications so you can determine just how beneficial their marketing e-mails or texts actually are.

How to save money while dining out

If you're on a tight budget, you may try to save money by avoiding certain activities like eating out. While eating out is generally more expensive than dining at home, there are ways to spend less while enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant. If you'd like to save a little money while dining out, consider making these money-saving changes.

1. Go for lunch.

Many restaurants have separate menus for lunch and dinner. While the portion sizes are generally reduced at lunchtime, so are the prices. By choosing to go out for lunch instead of dinner, you can save money.

2. Stick to water.

Beverages can add a substantial cost to your overall bill, whether it be soda, coffee, or especially any alcoholic beverage. You can save quite a bit of money while dining out by forgoing pricier drinks and sticking to water.

3. Skip dessert.

A round of desserts won't be cheap when eating out, so keep down your costs by skipping dessert. If you really can't go without dessert, then stop by the grocery store on the way home. You'll likely find several dessert options at a fraction of the cost.

4. Utilize coupons and discounts.

Keep an eye out for restaurant coupons when going through your mail. Also, inquire with your server about any available discounts for students, veterans, seniors, etc. that you or anyone else in your party may qualify for. By utilizing coupons and discounts, you can further reduce your bill.

Teenage weight and adult heart disease

Teenage weight linked to heart disease in adults

A study led by Amir Tirosh of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston has found a possible link between teenage weight and heart disease in adults.

The study looked at the medical history of 37,000 people and determined that the more a person weighed at the age of 17, the more likely they were to develop heart disease in their 30s and 40s - regardless of whether or not the participants grew up to be overweight.

This is clearly a cause for alarm, as researchers had previously thought that adopting a better lifestyle later in life would reduce the risks of heart disease substantially. This appears to not be the case, however. As this study implies, cardiovascular disease may be more closely linked to a person's weight during their critical teenage years than it is later on in adulthood.

On the flip side, the study also showed that a person's weight during their teenage years had little to do with developing diabetes later in life. It was only the people who failed to lose their extra teenage pounds upon reaching adulthood who had a greater risk of developing diabetes.

The study looked at a person's body mass index (BMI) compared to the risk of heart disease, which was defined as the, "narrowing of at least 50 percent in one major artery supplying blood to the heart". Using this data, the study determined that each point above a BMI of 20.7 resulted in an increased risk of 12 percent for heart disease and 10 percent for diabetes.

Collecting freelance payments while studying abroad

Seven ways freelancers can collect client payments while studying abroad

Freelancing is often a perfect fit for those studying abroad. After all, if you're willing to embrace the freelance mentality and you can conduct your business either online or over the phone, then you can keep earning money, no matter how far from home your adventures happen to take you. So, without further ado, here are seven options for freelancers looking to collect client payments while studying abroad.

1. PayPal (

PayPal is one of the world's most well-known and popular online payment processers. Its secure services provide instant invoicing and reliable payment options for many freelancers and their clients.

2. Escrow (

Another popular service used by freelancers is Escrow. Escrow helps remove the risk of online transactions by holding payment until agreed-upon conditions are met by both parties. This can be especially useful when dealing with larger projects and new clients.

3. Google Wallet (

Though Google Wallet can only be used to transfer funds within the United States or the United Kingdom, it can be a good option for freelancers studying in either of these countries due to its lack of fees. The service, which can be used to send funds at no cost between family and friends, is also free to use for sole proprietorship businesses.

4. Square (

Square card readers can be used to accept in-person and over-the-phone debit and credit card payments in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Upon acceptance to the service, freelancers are given a free card reader that can be used to securely collect client payments.

5. Western Union (

Western Union helps facilitate client payments by processing transactions either online, by phone, or in person at a branch office, ATM, or kiosk. Western Union currently operates in over 200 countries and has more than 500,000 agent locations.

6. MoneyGram (

Like Western Union, MoneyGram operates both online and through branch offices in over 200 countries around the world. MoneyGram, however, has fewer branch offices, ATMs, and kiosks than Western Union.

7. Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

Another popular option used by freelancers is Electronic Funds Transfer. To accept payment by EFT, you simply need to provide the necessary banking information to your client, who can then direct their payment to your selected account.

Please note that in many cases, payment processors charge one or both parties a fee for handling the transaction. As such fees are not standard from one company to the next, it can be worth shopping around before deciding on which payment option will be right for you and your clients. If you and your clients are comfortable sending and receiving payments through one of the cheaper options, you could end up saving a lot of money in the long run.

Freelancing is a great way to earn money while studying abroad. Thankfully, no matter which type of freelancing work you specialize in, there are several reliable ways you can be paid for your services. With so many payment options available, freelancers should have no trouble collecting client payments while studying abroad.

Start thinking about retirement now

At this stage in your life, being in either high school or college, you're probably (hopefully) spending a lot of time and focus on what you'd like to do for a career, and rightfully so. You're asking, then, "Mr. Robertson, why are you suggesting we start thinking about retirement already, when we haven't even started our careers yet?" Well, at your age, your primary focus should, in fact, be on launching your career. After all, it's your career that's going to help fund your retirement, right? You can't enjoy retirement if you're unable to earn, save, or invest much during your prime working years.

With that being said, though, it's to your advantage to begin devoting at least a little thought and action to your retirement now, because you have the one asset at your disposal that is arguably the greatest, most valuable asset around - time. You have time on your side.

Even Gordon Gekko, the fictional corrupt billionaire investor so artfully portrayed by Michael Douglas in the Wall Street movies, eventually figured out the value of time:

You may not have a lot of money to save or invest right now, but with time on your side, along with a little discipline and research, you can grow very small amounts of money into a much larger pool of money in the end. Time is on your side. Don't squander this incredible asset - this incredible opportunity - that you have right now. Too many people, unfortunately, figure this out way too late.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

In this post, we discuss a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, also styled as seasonal affective disorder and known as SAD for short.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons - SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer."  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "Younger adults have a higher risk of SAD than older adults. SAD has been reported even in children and teens." 

Four Ways to Prevent or Minimize the Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder, sometimes referred to as the winter blues or summertime sadness, is a mood disorder that is closely linked to variations in light. For this reason, it is most prevalent in populations who live far from the equator, where seasonal light fluctuations are more severe. Though seasonal affective disorder is most frequently experienced during the winter months when daylight hours decrease, around ten percent of cases do present during the summer.

It's these summer cases that have medical professionals on the fence about the possible evolutionary causes of the disorder. While several theories have been proposed, two popular theories have risen above the others. One theory recounts the need for mankind's early ancestors to lower their caloric intake during the winter months when food would have likely been scarce, while the other likens the disorder to winter hibernation in animals. While both ideas do have merit, neither of these explanations account for the cases where onset occurs during the summer months.

Evolutionary background aside, a growing awareness of seasonal affective disorder is sparking new research among medical professionals. Word of this new research has many sufferers excited that real solutions may be just around the corner. While it's true that meaningful progress could happen quickly, the reality is that research into the disorder is still in its infancy. Due to this, definitive answers gained from the research—including the disorder's exact causes and most effective treatment options—remain relatively undocumented.

While definitive answers aren't yet available regarding the prevention and treatment of seasonal affective disorder, several suggestions have been put forth that may help prevent the disorder's onset, or at the very least, shorten its duration or minimize the severity of its symptoms. Here are four such suggestions that may prevent or minimize the effects of seasonal affective disorder.

1. Be more physically active.

Endorphins, a natural chemical released by the brain during physical activity, are known to cause feelings of euphoria and empowerment. They are also thought to reduce stress, while increasing overall sleep quality. For these reasons, endorphins can be a great tool in battling the unwanted feelings of depression caused by seasonal affective disorder. For times when physical activity isn't possible, try finding the humor in life because genuine laughter can also cause a release of endorphins.

2. Take a vacation during your problematic season.

Exposing yourself to weather conditions reminiscent of those experienced during a non-afflicted season may help you to keep the disorder at bay. If you suffer from winter seasonal affective disorder, then visit somewhere warm and sunny during the winter to help mitigate the disorder's effects. If you suffer from summer seasonal affective disorder, then plan a summer trip to a destination that resembles a typical winter in your area.

3. Spend more time outdoors.

Because traveling to far off lands isn't always an option, it is also recommended that sufferers try spending more time outdoors. Spending an hour or two in the midday sun can be especially effective for those suffering from winter seasonal affective disorder, as exposure to the sun acts as a form of light therapy. Time outdoors can also be helpful in some cases of summer seasonal affective disorder, because a simple change in pace can sometimes be enough to ward off an episode of depression caused by the disorder.

4. Consume a diet rich in fish.

Certain studies have found that while seasonal affective disorder is known to be more prevalent in areas far from the equator, there are areas in non-equatorial regions, like Iceland and Japan, with lower than average levels of the disorder. One commonality among these regions is increased fish consumption. This finding has led to some speculation that consuming a diet rich in fish may help limit the severity of seasonal affective disorder or prevent its onset altogether.

Though there's no known way to fully eliminate your chances of developing seasonal affective disorder, there are several potential ways to help prevent its onset, or at the very least, limit its duration or minimize the severity of its symptoms. By being more physically active, taking well-scheduled vacations, spending more time outdoors, and increasing your intake of fish, you will have a better chance of warding off any future bouts of seasonal affective disorder.

Cultivating many options

In life and career, it's critical that you always have multiple options available to you at any given time. In other words, you want to have a viable backup plan in place. But, I would contend, you don't want just one backup plan. You want at least a couple. Maybe even a few. And you want them always ready to go, at a moment's notice.

Case in point: as you may know from reading prior posts here at this blog, I have always worked in what I generically call the business world - a collection of different private sector roles over the years. It wasn't until only a year and a half ago or so that I started to explore possibilities in K-12 education, specifically high school -level education. One of these days, I would really love to teach at the college level. That's the ultimate end goal for me. But even though I'm passionate about, and excited to be a part of, the world of education, I continue to keep my eyes, ears, and mind open for new opportunities in business and industry. I continue to network and maintain my relationships with an extensive variety of business professionals and subject matter experts, and I keep my resume updated and ready to go if needed. I seek out opportunities to learn new skills and to strengthen skills I already have. Furthermore, I maintain a small amount of freelance marketing work in addition to my full-time work in education. I can always ramp up this freelance work if I want or need to.

Likewise, the same goes with my investing and retirement planning. It's important to cultivate multiple streams of income - multiple strategies and a diverse variety of solid investments - so that if one or more begin to falter, others can pick up the slack.

So that's what I mean when I talk about cultivating multiple options. You never know when you may need to turn to them, or shift them from playing a secondary role in your life or career to a primary role, or vice-versa. It's always wise to have a few viable backup plans ready to go at a moment's notice.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Exploring your local library

Are book stores making you poor? Borrow from your local library instead

With the price of many books being quite expensive, it’s no surprise that heavy readers are looking for cheaper alternatives to support their hobby. If you happen to find yourself spending way too much on books (many of which you only end up reading once), then it’s time to check out your local library to see what they have in stock. You’ll still find plenty to read, but you’ll no longer have to worry about the price on the back cover.

Regardless if you are looking to read a book from one of today’s hottest authors or a series that has received very little press, there’s a good chance that you will be able to find what you are looking for at your local library. By borrowing books whenever you can and only buying books as a last resort, you can save a great deal of money.

If you are the kind of person who likes to be right up to date with the latest book crazes, you’ll be happy to know that many of the larger libraries order in several copies of their most popular books. This is a common practice for new releases, the latest installment of a series, or books that have been made into popular movies.

Even so, without knowing a few tricks, some of the most popular books can be hard to get a hold of. If you are having trouble borrowing a particular book because it is always checked out, don’t wait around for it to be put back on the shelf. Chances are the book has a waiting list that your name should probably be put on. Library staff can let you know how to go about adding your name to the list.

If you are unable to check out a certain book right away, there is no reason to become discouraged. Take the opportunity to read another book while you are waiting. Remember, it doesn’t cost you anything to borrow a book, so you’ve got nothing to lose even if the book you decide on isn’t quite your cup of tea. Simply return the book and borrow another one instead.

There will be times when you have a specific book in mind that you’d like to read, only to learn that the library doesn’t own a copy of the book. To help combat this problem, many libraries offer what is known as an interlibrary loan (ILL). By using the interlibrary loan service, your library can help you to borrow your desired book from another participating library that has an available copy.

The one thing that you must remember to do is return the books on time. You’ll never save any money if you return the books past their due dates because you’ll end up having to pay late fees. Granted, these fines aren’t all that expensive, but they can certainly add up if you continue to keep books past your allotted time. Be sure to inquire about the cost of fines when opening a new library account, so you know what to expect if you do end up with an overdue book.

If you’ve been spending more money on books than you’d like and are looking for a way to save some money, then it’s time to stop buying your books and start borrowing them from your local library instead. If you choose to make the library your main source of reading material instead of your local book store, then you will be able to save a lot of money while still reading to your heart’s content.

A lot more than just books...

But beyond just books, libraries offer so much more to help us learn, grow, and discover. This statement rings especially true in today's highly-digitized world, where smart devices and plenty of other forms of technology have made it a lot easier to take in new knowledge and insights. Libraries, like the rest of the world, have had to modernize their offerings and services by keeping pace with the rapidly-changing technology scene in order to remain relevant and competitive.

For example, many libraries now offer portable Wi-Fi hotspots that you can borrow if you don't have regular Internet access at home. Many libraries also now loan out video games and game devices, as well as offer access to subscription streaming services that allow you to view movies and other digital content. For children and youth, specifically, makerspaces have become really popular.

All of this is above and beyond the usual collections of DVDs, CDs, news and article databases, desktop computer stations, and e-books and e-book devices. And the cost to you to be able to access all of this great stuff? All free with your library card. All of it. So what are you waiting for? Go to your local library and start exploring. If you haven't been to your library in quite a while, get reacquainted. You won't be disappointed!