Theresa F Koch

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What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

General About Me

Rev Dr Theresa F. Koch holds her Masters in the Science of Parapsychic Science and has worked in the paranormal field for over three decades. She is a Certified Meditation Teacher, medium, freelance photographer and writer whose uninhibited work inspires people in all walks of life, including other photographers and artists, several of whom have publicly praised her work. Many of Theresa's poems have been published. Her poetry is admired for its spiritual beauty and its truthful expression of the poet's love for the Creation in northern Alaska. Theresa holds the title of Rev Dr. through World Christianship Ministries where she was given Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity Feb 1st 2001.

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"Broom Lore and Old Wives Tales"
Posted by Theresa F Koch on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 3:39:28 PM

The lowly broom has been around our civilization for centuries. It is said that Benjamin Franklin introduced broomcorn to the United States in 1725. He is said to have picked a single broomcorn seed of a Philadelphia lady, planted it and grew the first broom corn in the United States.

Folklore and Old Wives tales include traditional beliefs, customs, songs, and sayings about the broom. Included are beliefs about marriage, childbearing, festivals, warfare, hunting, and farming. The old myths are passed along in cultures all over the world. Folklore comes from everywhere on the planet, current and extinct. The following are only a few of the more prominent beliefs concerning the broom:

Do not lean a broom against a bed. The evil spirits in the broom will cast a spell on the bed.

If you sweep trash out the door after dark, it will bring a stranger to visit.

If someone is sweeping the floor and sweeps over your feet, you’ll never get married.

Never take a broom along when you move. Throw it out and buy a new one.

To prevent an unwelcome guest from returning, sweep out the room they stayed in immediately after they leave.

While you are sweeping near your front door, if the broom drops, be expecting company before the day is through.

If you find a broom lying on the ground or floor, pick it up for good luck.

When you are sweeping up dirt by your back door, be sure to sweep it out the back door instead of inward or you will be sweeping away the friendship of your best friend.

Do not sweep at all using a broom on New Year’s Day or bad luck will follow you all year long.

Any trash that you decide to sweep up on New Years Day, be sure to burn it so you will have money all year long.

When you are carrying a broom, carry it under your arm for good luck, if you carry it over your shoulder, you are sure to have bad luck.

Do not get mad and hit someone with a broom; if you do, you will find yourself in jail before the week is up.

Never sweep dirt out of your home before the sun comes up or you will be calling for bad luck to enter.

If the broom you are using happens to fall, it will bring you bad luck.

If you wish for someone that just entered your home to go away, all you have to do is sweep in front of them. This is a sign that you do not want them in your home.

If you are visiting someone and you have to step over a broom in her home, or outside the home, this means that she is not a good housekeeper.

Never hand someone a broom through an open window, it can bring you bad luck.

It is bad luck to loan your broom to anyone, even a good friend.

Stand a broom upside down and you will marry soon.

If a wife sweeps a circle around her husband, it will keep him eternally true to her.

There is a ceremony dating back to the 1600s which derived from Africa. Dating back to slave days, jumping the broom together has been part of weddings for couples who want to honor that tradition. The “Jumping the Broom” is a ceremony in which the bride and groom, either at the ceremony or at the reception, signify their entrance into a new life and their creation of a new family by symbolically “sweeping away” their former single lives, former problems and concerns, and jumping over the broom to enter upon a new adventure as husband and wife.

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This is a non-obnoxious way to follow up on a cold email
Posted by Theresa F Koch on Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 10:18:19 AM

Image result for mean email

“Just following up.”

“Did you see my email? [Insert cute GIF here]”

“I just want to make sure you’re not DEAD!”

We’ve all been the recipient of cold-email follow-ups like these. But, if we’re honest (and I grew up in New Jersey, so I try), we’ve also been the sender of these emails.

One of the great parts of living in #2019 is that it’s possible to reach (almost) anyone. Thanks to the wonders of email and DM, even massive celebrities and moguls are just a few well-crafted lines of text away.

However, once you’ve crafted that initial message, the seemingly existential, anxiety-inducing question becomes: How often do you follow up?

The answer, I think, is surprisingly straightforward.

Networking vs. sales

There is plenty of research on sales emails. There the question is not necessarily etiquette (but you still have to be mindful), but rather effectiveness. According to a report by sales development consultancy Topo, the average number of emails and calls per prospect is 16.

While that can work to close a sale, if you’re simply trying to encourage someone to help you, plastering their inbox with requests is a great way to put them off (and maybe even block you).

For clarity, I am talking about the cold networking email. These are the emails you send to people you want to work with, befriend, be mentored by, and so on. There’s a different set of rules for this type of networking. It starts with how you send the email.

Remember, you are not owed a reply

Spend enough time on LinkedIn, and you’ll see people posting about how it’s “rude” that people don’t reply to their unrequested missives.

While everyone (including the cold sender) is human and worthy of respect, whenever you contact someone without permission, you are owed nothing.

Imagine this, if you received telemarketing phone calls and voicemails asking you to call them back. Would you have a responsibility to return the call? No.

Not only is this idea of being owed a reply wrong, but it can also give the sender an excuse to make the cold email mediocre.

If you want to get a reply, you have to start by assuming you aren’t owed one. Instead, by crafting a great email, your effort is rewarded with a reply.

Four keys to writing a great cold email (or letter or fax if you’re a Luddite/hipster)

First, it should be relatable. Did you go to the same college? Mention it. Love the same favorite classic rock album? Tell them. Both Armenian? Be sure to say. Research shows that people feel an immediate affinity for people who share identities with them.

Second, make a clear ask. Note, that was singular, as in one solo ask. You’re already interrupting someone. Don’t ask them for 17 things. Also, make sure it is clear. Asking someone if you can “pick their brain” is terrible, asking someone to “talk about your career options” is clear and good.

Third, be yourself. Those two words look good on a Successories motivational poster, but they’re also essential to getting a reply. I’ve seen too many otherwise solid emails, thwarted by a bad case of formalitis. That’s the medical term for turning into a robot when emailing like this: “Dear Mr. Gannett, If I can have a moment of your time . . . etc.” Remember, you are emailing a human and humans like to interact with people who bring them joy. Signaling that you take yourself too seriously is a great way to lose someone’s interest.

Fourth: Make it short. Like really short. Like this paragraph short (not really, but you get the point).

Okay, so you now have a well-crafted, thoughtful, and short email. How often do you follow up?

Use the 3×3 rule

You’re sitting on your laptop, in some coffee shop that thankfully has Wi-Fi, and you hit send. Your cold email is off into the nether spots of the internet.

But, now you look at the clock. A minute passes. Then 20 minutes. Then an hour.

When should you follow up?

When it comes to a cold email, my advice is to follow the 3×3 rule. This means following up a maximum of three times, with at least three business days apart. I’ve found this to be the ideal balance between persistent and annoying.

Also, I think it’s okay if your follow-ups are short, but try to avoid any clichés. For example, sending a follow-up asking if the recipient “was offended” in hopes of provoking a reply. Or, another classic, “You haven’t responded. Have you been kidnapped?”

Not only are these cheesy, but they’re emotionally manipulative. Your follow-ups should be pleasant and direct, such as “I wanted to bump this to the top of your inbox.” I believe in your third (and last) email that it’s helpful to say something like, “I wanted to try one last time” as it is direct and not manipulative, but otherwise avoid playing games.

The result? You’re pleasantly persistent. You are pushing on the universe and trying to make things happen, but you’re not shaking the universe so hard that Neptune gets mad at you.

I support cold emails. They work and represent the newer, flatter way that we live. I’ve sent cold emails that have led to everything from deep friendships to opportunities that I never could’ve imagined. Now, I’ve also made mistakes and definitely been unpleasantly persistent.

But you don’t have to remake my mistakes. Follow the 3×3 rule, send thoughtful emails, and be rewarded by having doors open—really wide.

About the author

Allen Gannett is the author of The Creative Curve. Previously, he was the CEO of TrackMaven, which merged with Skyword to form the leading content marketing platform

 

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Pocket Worthy · Stories to fuel your mind. I Slept Outside for a Week and It Changed My Life (Really)
Posted by Theresa F Koch on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 2:29:41 PM

Photo: Christopher D. Thompson

I live in explicit defiance of the rules of good sleep hygiene. Rule one: Don’t expose yourself to the blue light that’s emitted from phones and computers before bed. (When else am I going to catch up on the day’s hot takes?) Rule two: Sleep in a darkened bedroom. (I had’t considered this when buying my gauzy curtains, which are sufficient to keep my neighbors from peeping but definitely not to block out their overactive security floodlights.) Rule three: No afternoon coffee. (Ha!)

Since middle school over a decade ago, my terrible sleeping habits have manifested in various literal failures to launch: waking up for an early-morning run is a laughable concept. I hit the snooze button, on average, four times every morning. My record is eleven. Lately, my energy's been peaking later and later—I do my best thinking and running starting around 4:30 p.m. In my one attempt to have a consistent sleep schedule after college, I tried to be in bed by 10 p.m. But I often ended up just staring at my ceiling for hours, wondering who the hell is able to fall asleep in 10 to 20 minutes, which is evidently the average.

Maybe that’s why the headline stood out to me: “Want to fix your sleep schedule? Go camping this weekend,” which appeared in Popular Science in early February. A 2017 Current Biology study, which the article cites, focuses on that most mysterious indicator of sleep habits: the circadian rhythm. Put simply, your body should want to be asleep when it’s dark and awake when it’s light. Apparently, this well-tuned internal clock is as easy to achieve as it is lacking in most adults with a job and a smartphone. Just two days spent entirely outdoors can move a person’s internal clock 2.5 hours closer to being in sync with our natural sleep-wake cycle, the researchers found, following an earlier study showing that a week spent outdoors adjusted some subjects’ clocks by a whopping four hours. This is because constant exposure to natural light (and, crucially, darkness) seems to encourage the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates circadian rhythm. “When your melatonin begins to rise, that tells us the start of the internal biological night is beginning,” says Kenneth Wright, professor at the University of Colorado’s Department of Integrative Physiology and a lead researcher on the study.

Maybe all this was a sign: I could hit reset on my deeply broken internal clock and indulge in some good old-fashioned stunt journalism. Surely, sleeping outside for seven days straight, even if I still had to go to work and couldn't spend all my waking hours in nature, would get my melatonin spiking at the right times. And if it didn’t, so what—winter had just ended and I really missed camping. My only rule was that I had to sleep in nature every single day. I could shower and answer e-mail and even have 2 p.m. coffee in civilization, but I couldn’t sleep in my own bed even if I was cold, miserable, or fearful of serial killers who hike.

My experiment started in early April, and a friend joined me for my inaugural night out at a car-camping site about 20 minutes from my Santa Fe home, staking out a spot for my just-big-enough-for-two tent. We sat at the campfire for a few hours, then it died, we got cold, and we made for our sleeping bags. Must be something like 11 p.m., I thought, but it was only 9:15. We laughed about it—then fell asleep about 15 minutes later. I awoke only when my alarm rang and hit the snooze button just twice.

Both of these victories were possibly a result of being lulled to sleep by, and waking up to, disorienting new surroundings. I kept my hopes low for the second night, when I’d be a little more used to the pattern and I’d be camping alone. I thought I might lie awake thinking about The Blair Witch Project. Nope. This time I was out in five minutes, barely surfaced from my deep sleep when I heard (I hope) deer circling my tent in the middle of the night, and hit my snooze button just once the next morning. After the third restful night, I abandoned my sleep anxieties and started evangelizing: “My sleep has been amazing,” I told anyone unfortunate enough to ask how the experiment was going. “I think my circadian rhythm is already changing. You can just feel it, you know?”

Having drank the melatonin-spiked Kool-Aid, I unzipped my sleeping bag on day four feeling like a whole new, clearheaded woman. I could probably go without my morning coffee, I told myself while drinking my morning coffee. But I did drop the urge to have a cup at 2 p.m.—in fact, I genuinely felt chipper all day. I was becoming the type of functional person who I always thought just lied about their caffeine habits. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, to start craving a nap, but that was the weirdest part: I never felt sleepy until the moment my head hit the pillow, and shortly after I was out cold. It was like my body knew to be awake until I lay down, and then it said, “Aha! I’m going to sleep now!”

I know that what I experienced isn’t really how circadian rhythms work, but according to Wright, the University of Colorado researcher, it could be related. Cutting exposure to blue light and increasing morning sunlight in any amount can help max out your melatonin closer to nightfall. “When that melatonin rises, it tells the body to get ready for bedtime in a couple hours,” Wright said. “So when it’s time for you to try to go to sleep, you’re probably sleeping more in sync with your clock.”

My experiment was less than scientific, but I do feel like I gleaned some very real benefits simply by letting sunrise and sunset determine my waking hours: the forced bedtime helped me fall asleep sooner, and the 360 degrees of sunlight and the cawing of the ravens every morning were hard to ignore. By the end of the week, I felt consistently tired whenever I chose to go to bed, and consistently more awake when it was time to start the day, and coffee no longer felt like a mandate. (I still drink it—this isn’t magic.)

Why It Works

I learned a lot about sleep hygiene during my week of camping, including that a lot of the specific before-bedtime habits you’ve heard about really do work. But, in addition to changes in natural-light exposure, it was actually those aspects of camping that you’d think would diminish my quality of sleep that probably enhanced it. For instance, temperatures dipped from 70 degrees to the mid-thirties after sundown every night, and the oncoming chill probably signaled to my body that sleep was imminent. Having no cell service meant that I didn't check my phone before going to bed, which meant no blue light messing with my melatonin levels. I also slept in a mummy-style sleeping bag beneath a giant quilt, the weight of which forced me to sleep on my back, so I could breathe, and kept me from moving around. (In fact, research has shown that a weighted blanket can improve sleep for insomniacs.)

How to Making Camping Work for You

For a circadian revamp, Wright sensibly recommends a weekend camping trip, rather than a harebrained workweek of semi-camping. Think of it as a cheat that’ll make it easier for you to develop healthier sleep habits when you return home. “We can use camping to jump-start an earlier sleep schedule, then use good sleep habits to keep us there,” he says. Sleeping in the backyard is OK, too, if you’re not blessed with a state forest up the road, as I am. (I love you, Black Canyon Campground.) Just make sure you’re not too exposed to streetlights or other ambient sources of illumination, and maybe leave your phone inside to cut that temptation entirely.

And even though it’s not scientifically supported, I’ve concluded that camping on a school night should be a casual option, even a sort of monthly treat—like a sports massage or a personal-health day. (I’ve tried neither, but they sound relaxing!)

How to Get the Same Benefits at Home

You can make small changes every day to replicate some of the sleep-cycle benefits of camping. “If you start your day by being more exposed to natural sunlight, that by itself is going to have an impact,” Wright says. He also suggests exercising soon after waking. “That, in addition to turning the lights down in your house and dimming all your electronic devices, could probably help keep your clock timed earlier.”

For indoor nights, I’ve also made some changes to help replicate my outdoor bedroom. I bought a blackout curtain for the window that directly faces my neighbors’ security light. (I moved the gauzy one to the window facing the street, where it will still allow the morning light to shine in.) Every night, I put my phone in airplane mode and read a book instead. I keep my room as cold as I can, although I’m not sleeping in my mummy bag—yet. I try not to worry so much about exactly when I go to sleep and instead eliminate bad sleep hygiene before it catches up to me: goodbye, 11 p.m. e-mail checks; goodbye, afternoon coffee; goodbye, snooze button number four. To paraphrase my favorite dumpster graffiti, which I believe also paraphrases a Beatles song: Everybody has something to hide (about their sleep-hygiene sins) except for me and my tent.

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