Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Facebook Profile Badge

Attached at the bottom of this entry, is my Facebook Profile Badge. The profile badge is different from the Photo Badge in one way--the profile badge is exactly the same as my profile photograph on my Facebook page. The photo badge is any photo that I choose to represent myself on the badge.


Ellen Wass Beckerman

Ellen Beckerman

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Creating a Facebook Badge

Hello Everyone!
This entry is to practice entering a Facebook badge. Thanks for your patience.

Ellen Beckerman | Create Your Badge

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Harmony of Family

I am listening to classical music of the Baroque period this morning as I write this entry. When I was growing up, our house was filled with music. Both of my parents played musical instruments, my Dad, the violin and my Mom, the piano. We spent time listening to classical music on the record player. Ultimately, each of my sisters and myself learned to play an instrument and to sing.

Singing After Supper
It was my Mom who thought of the idea of singing while we cleaned up the kitchen after supper. (No automatic dishwasher at that time. Washing and drying dishes was a chore no one liked.) It started with a simple round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” There is a 9 year age range from my oldest sister to my youngest. I’m number four of five daughters. I remember being taught by my Mom and my older sisters how to sing the melody and learn the trick of singing in a Round.

A Round
A Round is a song, usually with a simple melody, where one person starts singing and after one phrase the next person starts at the beginning and the first person continues with the next phrase. The melodies become harmonies as each person sings her part of the song in combination with the others. The song ends just as it began with each person stopping until the last person finishes the the last phrase alone.

Depending upon the song, the harmonies become quite beautiful; especially as more people join the round. We sang “London’s Burning,” and “Tender Shepherd.”

Lessons Learned
It was an excellent lesson in self-confidence and team work, because each person had to sing her own part as well as listen to the others. It is also my idea of family.

As adults, my sisters and I are independently living our lives, some of us with children and grandchildren, others with careers—we still come together as a family and like most families in our modern era, we have to go our separate ways again because we all live in different cities now.

Happy Mother's Day!
I wish a Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom and my sisters, whether or not all of us have children—each of us has that nurturing spirit! I am so glad that we are entwined in the harmonies of our lives.

With Love,

Friday, April 4, 2008

There Can Be Joy Again

Two years ago today, my husband Bill died of a heart attack.

He was 56 years old. He was the best friend a person could have—kind, generous and always willing to go the extra mile. I cannot begin to tell you how much I miss him.

The day after he died, I began a journey to pick up the pieces, to figure out what was broken, and what was still whole. My first reaction was to try to fix what was broken. I’ve since come to realize that it’s okay to leave some things broken, they are reminder of what has been lost.

But I also have come to realize that even though I can’t have what I had with Bill, there can be joy again.

Oddly enough, there is almost nothing that is the same in my life now as it was when Bill was alive.

I have been sorting through an enormous amount of possessions that had been stored in green bins. (I have an assortment of “bin” jokes: 1-If you have been to storage and carried back a carload of bins, you have “bin there and done that.”; 2-If you are carrying a bin full of heavy stuff, you are “Bin Laden.”; to name a just a few.

When I stop thinking about the overwhelming task of sorting 5 storage spaces full of STUFF, it has had it’s fun moments. I have managed to give just about every one of my neighbors something that they could use, almost exactly when they needed it. (In fact, I have used one set of wine glasses at my neighbor Jan’s more than I used it when I owned it!)

My greatest joy has been teaching basic computer skills for Mitchell Community College at the Skills Center in Statesville, NC. I teach two nights a week and I supervise/assist people at the public internet access period two nights a week. Teaching in the evenings is not something I would have considered while Bill was alive—we enjoyed each other’s company and spent most of our time together, both at work and at home.

Last night my fifth ten-week session graduated. (I’ve been teaching for one year.)

We have helped each other in our struggles. On the first day, most of my students had not ever used a computer. Twelve out of fifteen registered students graduated. (Nine of them had perfect attendance.) All of them learned how to type and doubled or tripled their typing speed.

We have cheered each other on, in our searches for work. They have been amazed at the number of part-time jobs I have put together to earn my living and the concept of being self-employed. Thankfully, my smaller jobs seem to be leading to the possibility of more hours.

Last night we took the time to celebrate our successes big and small. Everyone brought something to eat. We made room in our lives for ceremony. I called each person’s name and he or she came up to the podium to accept his or her certificate. We gave each person the opportunity to speak to the group, to tell them what they learned or what they liked best about the class. Suzanne Wallace, my supervisor from Mitchell was there and she congratulated each person individually.

Even my shyest students were able to speak to the group. I was so proud of the changes I could see in all of them. It was wonderful to be a part of it.

What I have learned in the past two years is to chip away at huge tasks a small portion at a time. When it seems as if nothing is changing—don’t quit, keep going. In a “marathon” type project, resting occasionally is essential, but stopping completely is not an option.

To all of you who know me, I am a self-employed, self-starter and probable overachiever. (Okay, definite overachiever.) I have had a career of making things happen.

Unfortunately, life can hand you something where you can’t simply “make it happen.” I often tell my students: “I need to have more faith in God and you need to have more faith in yourselves.”

Good things can happen in our lives, with patience and with the ability to change our perception from what we want (or had) to what is happening now.

At the top of this blog is a photograph of my class. Top row from left to right: Ellen Beckerman (me), Dan Ervin, Zendarsky Mattison, Daisy Stokes, Anita Gray, William Johnson, Tyna Redmond, Aishus Watts, Jr., Suzanne Wallace. Second row: Angela Bruce, Patricia Corpening, Cynthia Smith, Dondi Smith.

I extend my congratulations to each one of them and to any one who reads this entry who is continuing in life-long learning.

Thanks for sharing a few moments with me.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Today is ¡Hola! Day

October 1, 2007 is the first time we celebrate ¡Hola! day. It fosters a greater understanding and appreciation for the Spanish language in the USA. It also salutes all Americans who choose to learn Spanish as a second (or third or fourth) language. It’s the brainchild of Myelita Melton, a Spanish language teacher, author and keynote speaker from Mooresville, North Carolina. See www.officialholaday.com for more details.

Growing Controversy
I’ve been reading and watching with concern, the growing controversy about illegal immigration. It always seems to be about our border with Mexico—when was the last time you heard someone worried about the French Canadians from Quebec sneaking into our country, “taking our jobs,” and refusing to speak English?

I’ll Be Nice To You, But Only If You’re Exactly Like Me
It’s human nature to settle into communities of like-minded people with similar backgrounds. It’s much more comfortable to be able to immediately communicate with each other because we can assume we speak the same language and have the same ideals.

Many of us are forgetting the courage it took our parents, grandparents or great grandparents to leave familiar surroundings and emmigrate to the United States of America—we forget that it took them years to learn English and that some of them only learned enough to be able to do their shopping (and that sometimes even that was too much for them—so they only shopped at places where they spoke the same language and felt welcome). It was their children and grandchildren that truly became a part of our country.

Education Not Confrontation
Fear of the unknown is the basic element of most confrontational situations. Fear that somehow each of our lives will be less if we let someone different into our community. Remember that your fear of the unknown is equally matched by a person who doesn’t speak English no matter what country they come from. Many immigrants have daily bad experiences instead of welcoming ones.

Visiting Germany In 1987
I met a German exchange student and he invited me to visit his country over the Christmas holiday. I spent the 3 months before my trip learning as much German as I could. My teacher thought I would be able to have a limited conversation in a shop, know how much things cost and be able to know if I received the correct change.

In the German educational system of that time, all students spent approximately 10 years learning English as part of their standard curriculum. (I thought I would be fine with my limited German, because most everyone would know English!)

Few If Any Of His Friends Would Speak English With Me
Even though they knew I understood only about one-third or less of what they were saying to me in German—They were afraid of making an embarrassing mistake, so they wouldn’t try at all.

I Have Never Felt So Alone
When my friend got tired of translating, I couldn’t communicate with anyone. The few conversations I did have—like what do you do for a living—most Germans didn’t believe my answer! (I was a computer consultant.) At that time, it was unbelievable for a woman to run her own business or compete in highly technical fields. Although I was college educated with a bachelor’s degree and and master’s degree, I felt like an idiot. Thankfully, my friend’s family was warm and welcoming. Between their English and my German, we could and did communicate. I will remember their kindness all of my life.

Meet Each Other Halfway
Making the effort to learn a few words of a foreign language like ¡Hola! (which means Hello! in Spanish) is a great way of getting to know someone new. You can be the person who is remembered for being open and welcoming. Taking the first step makes it easier for the other person to learn English because they have a friend in you.

Be Brave—You Can Do It!
Today as you go about your daily activities, make a new friend, add to the richness of your life: Just Say ¡Hola!

Thanks for sharing a few minutes with me.

Ellen Wass Beckerman is a student of Spanish, a Macintosh computer consultant, professional photographer and a graphic designer. She is proud to design the Official ¡Hola! Day website and other graphics for Myelita Melton President of SpeakEasy Communications, Inc. You can see other examples of Ellen's work at www.gardentextures.com.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life Long Learning

On September 6th, the students from the Internet and the Job Search class at the South Statesville Skills Center graduated. This was the second of two classes teaching computer skills for employment.

I know the individuals in this class are extraordinary. Each of them made a commitment to be in class, twice a week for 10 weeks—BUT to be in my second class, they had already been through 10 weeks of my first introductory class! I’d been teaching them since last March.

As a computer professional, there are so many skills that I use every day that I take for granted. Touch typing, email, and using a search engine to look up web sites on topics that interest me. Sharing the magic of technology with my class and then watching them make it their own was a joy.

Each student used the information learned in a different way on projects that held importance for him or her. Whether it was looking for mustard greens and kale seeds to plant this Fall or gathering more information on a potential employer, each project was new and interesting for me—but more importantly, a pathway to additional learning for the student.

From left to right in the photograph above:
Ellen Wass Beckerman (Instructor—me), Seifullah El-Amin, Darlene E. Moore, William M. Jones, Jr., Susan M. Pinkerton, Amonda Daniels, Betty Christie, Jerry W. Settlemyre, William H. Maxwell.

I commend each and every one of you for your commitment to learning and to improving your skills. Congratulations!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Ellen Wass Beckerman
Writer/Photographer/Graphic Designer
Photography portfolio: www.istockphoto.com/zmacgal

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Five Tips For Great Resumes

1) Your resume should read and work like it is an "invitation to an interview." Make sure there is something interesting and inviting about your resume in the top 1/3 of the page. Most employers will not read beyond that if nothing matches their needs or curiosity.

2) Make two resumes. The first resume you make should include everything about you. It's your "laundry list" of job experience, education—include all certificates, seminars and training, and your skills—list all of your strengths. (This is the resume you keep. This resume will help you prepare for a job interview and you can bring it with you to refer to, so you don't have to worry about remembering all of the details.)

The second resume is the one you tailor to the jobs that you are applying for. Use only the best parts of your "laundry list" resume. Ideally, this resume should be one page long depending upon your job experience. (Two pages are okay if you're older and have more job experience. Three pages are even okay if you have more than 15 years job experience.)

Do not be tempted to make your text smaller to fit more on the page. The font size should be 12. Most resumes are faxed. Type/font sizes smaller than 12 are not readable. Unreadable resumes are thrown away immediately upon receipt.

3) Use bullets to emphasize a list of attributes such as things you did on a job to increase sales. Make your points short and easy to read. Use "white space." (White space means you should have at least one line of space between paragraphs. More space actually means it's easier and faster to read.)

4) Use your cover letter to emphasize why you are qualified for the job—don't put lengthy explanations on your resume. Although you use the cover letter to introduce yourself, explain why you are qualified for the job (often called a position), and ask them to reply/contact you—you need to keep the cover letter short and to the point as well. Three paragraphs is ideal.

5) Proofreading your cover letter and resume is essential! One of the best methods of proofreading is to read your cover letter and resume out loud. If you have trouble saying it, it probably needs rewriting to make the sentences less awkward.

Double check all of your dates by reading your resume from the back to the front. When you read from front to back, sometimes your mind will automatically put in words that are missing because you know what you meant to say.

When you think you are completely finished, then ask a friend or someone at the job center to read/review your resume. Don't be surprised if they find a typo or a mistake. (That's why you are asking them to help you.)

Good luck on your job search!

Ellen Wass Beckerman
Writer/Photographer/Graphic Designer
Photography portfolio: www.istockphoto.com/zmacgal