Skip The Lines – Bring The Amusement Park Right To Your Own Back Yard

September 21, 2016

There’s no shortage of things to do in Atlanta. From professional sports to amusement parks, there’s something for everyone. In fact, Atlanta is proud to house some of the nations largest amusement attractions, including the ever popular Six Flags Over Georgia. Children (and adults) love the thrill and adrenaline rush of the large roller coasters. However, one thing most people don’t like about amusement parks is the long lines. By the time it’s all said and done, you can spend several hundred dollars for your family to have an afternoon of fun, and only get a few rides in. This year, instead of spending the day waiting in long lines for short rides, why not bring the fun right to your back yard? With today’s technology, you can literally do just that! One of the advantages of living in a large city like Atlanta is that we have large rental companies that can make your special event feel just like a trip to Six Flags… complete with a train and an ice cream cart!

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If you’re trying to replicate the amusement park feel, there are definitely specific items that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. As mentioned previously, ice cream carts and trackless trains help make the special event feel more like a day at Six Flags.In order to make your next special event more special, try some of the following tips:

Head online to do some research on the party rental company that has the selection your looking for. If you want an ice cream cart to complete your theme park adventure, look around until you find what you’re looking for.

Don’t settle for the first website you see. There are literally hundreds of inflatable party rental companies in Atlanta. Keep looking for a website that offers a wide variety of rental items that you’re looking for.

It’s better to rent everything from one company. Renting in bulk can help you save money. Larger companies will offer discounts for larger purchases of multiple units and rental items.

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Having a day of amusement park fun is cheaper and easier than ever before. By bringing the amusement park to your front door by using a party rental industry, you can include more people at a lower price. So next time you’re planning a special day, instead of spending tons of money for just a few people and braving the long lines of amusement parks, invite the whole neighborhood and bring the amusement park right to your own back yard!

Help For the Partners of Sex Addicts

October 26, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)· What is sex addiction?Sex addiction is an obsessive relationship to sexual thoughts, fantasies or activities that an individual continues to engage in despite adverse consequences. These thoughts, fantasies or activities occupy a disproportionate amount of “psychic space”, resulting in an imbalance in the person’s overall functioning in important areas of life, such as work and marriage. Distress, shame and guilt about the behaviors erode the addict’s already weak self-esteem.Sexual addiction can be conceptualized as an intimacy disorder manifested as a compulsive cycle of preoccupation, ritualization, sexual behavior, and despair. Central to the disorder is the inability of the individual to adequately bond and attach in intimate relationships. The syndrome is rooted in early attachment failure with primary caregivers. It is a maladaptive a way to compensate for this early attachment failure. Addiction is a symbolic enactment of deeply entrenched unconscious dysfunctional relationships with self and others.While the definition of sex addiction is the same as that of other addictions, sexual compulsion is set apart from other addictions in that sex involves our innermost unconscious wishes, needs, fantasies, fears and conflicts.Like other addictions, it is relapse prone.· How do I know if my partner is a sex addict?Sometimes, it’s difficult to know whether someone close to you has an addiction. The addict might hide the addictive behavior or you might not know the warning signs or symptoms.Here are some of the signs and symptoms:* Staying up late to watch television or surf the Web.* Looking at pornographic material such as magazines, books, videos and clothing catalogs.* Frequently isolating themselves from spouses or partners, and doesn’t inform them of their whereabouts.* Are controlling during sexual activity or have frequent mood swings before or after sex.* Are demanding about sex, especially regarding time and place.* Gets angry if someone shows concern about a problem with pornography* Offers no appropriate communication during sex* Lacks intimacy before, during and after sex, and offers little or no genuine intimacy in the relationship* Does not want to socialize with others, especially peers who might intimidate them* Fails to account for increasing number of toll – 800 or 900 – calls* Frequently rents pornographic videotapes* Seems to be preoccupied in public with everything around them* Has tried to switch to other forms of pornography to show a lack of dependency on one kind; concoct rules to cut down but doesn’t adhere to them* Feels depressed* Is increasingly dishonest* Hides pornography at work or home* Lacks close friends of the same sex* Frequently uses sexual humor* Always has a good reason for looking at pornography (Psych Central.com).· Why can’t he/she control his/her sexual behavior?It’s important for you to know that your partner is not volitionally involved in these behaviors so you can begin to understand and, perhaps, forgive. Most addicts would stop if they could.It’s been said that of all the addictions, sex is the most difficult to manage. This syndrome is a complex mixture of biological, psychological, cultural, and family-of-origin issues, the combination of which creates impulses and urges that are virtually impossible to resist. Despite the fact that acting them out produces considerable long-term negative consequences, the addict simply cannot resist his/her impulses. Individuals who are highly disciplined, accomplished and able to direct the force of their will in other areas of life fall prey to sexual compulsion. More importantly, people who love and cherish their partners can still be enslaved by these irresistible urges.Research has also shown that the inability to control sexual impulses is associated with neurochemical imbalances in the norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine systems. The use of certain anti-depressants (SSRI’s) has thus shown to be very effective in treating the impulse control problems of many sexual compulsives.Biological predisposition contributes and combines with psychological factors. One of the reasons the “erotic haze” is so compulsory is that it is an unconscious but maladaptive way to repair earlier disturbed, anxiety-laden relationships. It shores up an inadequate sense of self which results from these early-life interpersonal abandonments, intrusions and misattunements.This combination of biological and psychological factors results in an “affective disorder” in the sex addict. Feeling of depression, anxiety, boredom and emptiness are quickly alleviated by immersing oneself in an imaginary world that provides novelty, excitement, mystery and intense pleasure. Sex addiction is better than Prosac. It heals, it soothes, it contains, it provides a “safe place” free from the demands of actual performance, and it gives an illusory sense of belonging. The sense of empowerment in the illicit sex act rectifies “holes in the soul” and lifts the addict from feelings of inadequacy, insufficiency, depression and emptiness into a state of instant euphoria.Relinquishing this very special (but delusional) mental and physical state can result in a sense of withdrawal which may include mood swings, inability to concentrate and irritability. These symptoms usually disappear in therapy as the sense of self is solidified and he finds more creative ways to deal with uncomfortable feelings.· What are the effects of cybersex addiction on the relationship?Effects of sex addiction on the sex addict’s partner can be numerous, encompassing a wide range of emotions and reactive behaviors. The sexual codependent’s experience is similar to, but not thoroughly identical to, a codependent person in a relationship with a substance abuser. A codependent partner of a drug addict or alcohol, for example, may manage to understand and even sympathize with her partner’s alcohol problem due to the lesser social condemnation.But a compulsive addiction that involves engaging in sexual activities on the computer or outside of the home inflicts a psychic injury of ultimate betrayal. Sexuality goes to the heart of who we are.Arguable, one purpose and outcome of cybersex is to detach and disconnect sexual experience from real relationships in life. Cybersex’s primary stimulus to autoerotic behavior produces profound disconnection of the sexual experience from relationship context and meaning. Compulsive viewing of pornography, for instance, in no way supports or fosters intimate, attachment-linked sexual gratification, anchored in emotional connection, intimate responsiveness and relationship fidelity.Cybersex addiction reinforces a non-intimate, non-relational, and non-demanding sexual experience — a detached, disconnected physical arousal geared to the self-engrossed preoccupation typical of addictive sexual behavior. Cybersex entrenches emotional, psychological and spiritual/existential disconnection of sexuality from relationship context. Entrance into the “erotic haze” that encompasses the sex addict induces sexual arousal, climax and resolution without real relationship attentiveness, responsiveness, or commitment – the key dimensions of a loving attachment.The behavior directly undermines trust in the couple’s relationship. Thus, the sexual dynamics depicted in cybersex are inherently detrimental and destructive to secure attachment that is essential to a sense of trust in the relationship.It is also reasonably anticipated that a husband’s deception and lying – the existence of a “secret world” apart from the primary relationship is an overlapping, yet also separate detrimental influence upon relationship trust.For some women, this lack of trust in their husband’s word – leads to uncertainty about the “substance” of the man they married, uncertainty about his true identity and a change in their perception of his identity – that of seeing him as fundamentally untrustworthy and of disreputable character. Thus, their internal model of their husband changes.Others may feel that the husband is unable to fulfill marital expectations of emotional intimacy and companionship. They talk about not trusting that their husband would fulfill the role of being someone who could provide emotional support. They feel unable to turn to their husbands for this emotional support for different reasons: fearing she would trigger a relapse; feeling rejected because of his involvement in computer sex; sensing her husband’s inability to provide emotional support; being shamed by a husband’s angry or dismissive response from her attempts to reach out for support and companionship; or resolving that her husband was emotionally preoccupied with his own struggle with addiction.The addict’s use of cybersex causes self doubt and lowered self esteem in the spouse. These women feel they aren’t pretty enough or skinny enough, or whatever. In any event, the feel that they are not what their husbands want. Some feel that if they were more sexually desirable, he wouldn’t have this problem. Sometimes, in a frantic effort to compete with unreal women on the internet or with prostitutes, they go to extremes with cosmetic surgery, breast implantation, excessive exercise – in the mistaken belief that if she can lure him back sexually and her husband would stop being interested in pornography and the marriage could be redeemed.Some spouses feel that her husband’s use of internet pornography is a direct attack on her self-worth. They start doubting themselves. They doubt their self-worth. They start doubting the things that used to make them feel special and meaningful. Because if she had any meaning, why was he doing what he’s doing?The wife is often stunned, confused, and in extreme pain upon discovery of the sexual/cybersex addiction. Anger and resentment can be overwhelming. For many partners, the addict’s betrayal can precipitate trauma that resembles post-traumatic stress disorder.A wife can believe that sex is the most important way to express love, so her partner’s sexual acting out can leave her feeling deeply inadequate and unlovable.Within the union, the partner’s low self-esteem can contribute to anxiety and fear of being abandoned. Often she will set aside her moral values and tolerates participating in sexual behaviors with her partner which are unacceptable or even repugnant to her. She feels too unworthy to have solid sexual boundaries. She mistakenly believes that she can stop his acting out if she satisfies his (insatiable and unrealistic) sexual needs.A surprisingly common effect reported by many partners – after the shock of discovery -is the feeling of losing one’s mind. Obsessing about the details of the sex addict’s betrayal, repeatedly confronting her partner with “evidence” of infidelity and being told she’s “crazy” or “just jealous” results in a loss of focus and an inability to concentrate. Fear and anger aggravate the condition. Furthermore, there is an element of intense shame for both addict and sexual codependent attached to sexual addiction, especially if his interests involve an object, cross-dressing, dominance and submission or children. She isolates herself from friends, family and community due to her shame, which provides fertile ground for depression. In some situations, the partner is brought to a point of absolute despair.Some maladaptive strategic responses the sexual codependent may engage in as a means of coping include excessive alcohol consumption, food binges, excessive house cleaning, and overtime career activity; acts that can serve as distractions from her distrust, pain and hostility. Distractions, of course, provide only a temporary and false “relief” and often create more problems than they solve.When the partner’s anger and resentment are suppressed over a period of time, they eventually explode in a volcano of rage, blame, and furious criticism of the sex addict.The explosion of frustrated emotions can open a door to enormous guilt and remorse, so the partner may forgive the addict’s offenses and not stand clear in setting boundaries for herself. The result is an unfortunate snare for the couple, in which the partner unwittingly enables the sex addict to carry on with his unacceptable pattern of sexual acting out.The converse is true regarding the emotional influences on the wife. She may turn inward, withdraw, stay silent and distant. This can include withdrawing from any sexual activity with the addict. These stonewalling behaviors can ignite strong feelings of shame and rejection in the sex addict. In a way, the partner succeeds in punishing the sex addict through these behaviors. But the price of this punishment may be a return to his active addiction as a way to deal with conflict at home.A tremendously debilitating effect on the partner is to assume all responsibility for the addict’s sexual acting out, and even for all of the problems in the relationship. The sex addict may exploit this to his advantage, perpetuating self-doubt within the partner.For example, the partner may confront her spouse with evidence of a transgression, like a credit card charge to a hotel, but the sex addict is skillful and experienced in deception. He will boldly challenge the partner’s credibility, suggesting she see a “shrink” for being so paranoid and suspicious of him. He can persuasively feign righteous indignation, causing his partner to distrust her own instincts and perceptions, even in the face of tangible evidence.The self doubt can plague the partner, aggravating her confusion and contributing to the feeling of “losing my mind”. Not wanting to continue to feel “crazy”, she may retreat into denial, the basic and most fundamental defense mechanism for both partner and addict. When in denial, she will believe the addict’s lies, however far-fetched they may be. She will accept the unacceptable. Whichever lies the sex addict offers to cover up his addiction, she is compelled to “not rock the boat” in order to assuage her abandonment fears.· What are the characteristics of a sexual codependent?Firstly, let’s consider what codependency is. Codependency is an overworked and overused word and definitions can be confusing. At core, it revolves around a deep fear of losing the approval and presence of the “other”. This underlying fear can result in manipulative behaviors that overfocus on maintaining another person’s presence and approval. Control, obsequiousness, anger, caretaking, and being over-responsible are among the behaviors that can be the manifestations of codependent behavior. Because of dysfunctional family-of-origin issues, codependents learn to react rather than respond to others, take responsibility for others, worry about others, and depend on others to make them feel useful or alive.Codependence also refers to the way events from childhood unconsciously produces attitudes and behaviors that propel people into destructive relationships in the present. The self worth of the codependent comes from external sources. They need other people to give them feelings of self-worth. Codependence is a particular relationship with one’s self in which the person doesn’t trust his or her own experiences. Lacking the inner boundaries necessary to be aware of and express their true wants, feelings, goals and opinions, they are “other-validating”. Having only a reflected sense of self, they constantly seek affirmation and validation from other people because they are unable to endorse and validate from within. “Self-validating” people are able to do this. Co-dependents often focus on an addict’s sobriety as a way to achieve a precarious sense of self- consolidation. Sadly, their behavior often perpetuates the loved one’s addiction.Codependent people believe they can’t survive without their partners and will do anything they can do to stay in the relationship, however painful. The fear of losing their partners and being abandoned (once again) overpowers her ability to make decisions in her own best interests. The thought of addressing the partner’s addiction can be terrifying: they may be frightened of igniting the partner’s anger which can result in feeling emotionally flooded by (childhood) fears of loss.The sexual co-dependent suffers from additional symptoms: driven by the potential loss of the relationship, which she sees as identical with her very identity, some women engage in sexual activities with their partners that they find distasteful or even morally repugnant – all in an effort to keep him home and happy. However, this type of fantasy-based acting out may not be based on her real sexual needs and desires and opens the way to turning his partner into yet another object. Certain kinds of sexual acting out can turn sex into another fix for him. The partner senses this, making her sense of sexual betrayal even more poignant.In couples where one partner is ciphering off his erotic energies from the primary relationship, there are invariably problems with the couple’s own sexual expressiveness. He becomes sexually demanding. She expresses her resentment about this by not being sexually responsive. He may lose erotic interest in her, as she never lives up to the thrill of fantasy-based sexual enactments. The sense of having a person-related, intimate sexual encounter may diminish. Erotic expression between the couple can easily dry up, leaving the sexual co-addict feeling even more diminished as a woman and as a person.Sexual co-dependents have an inordinate need to get the information straight. “Detectiving” is a common activity: checking his computer, looking up names and numbers, or desperately looking for scraps of paper with numbers written on them. One client even invited a prostitute her spouse had frequented into her home because she wanted to know the details. The need-to-know provides the partner with a way to check up on her own reality (“Am I crazy or is this really happening?”) and provides her with a sense of much-needed (although illusory) sense of mastery over an out-of-control situation. Especially in light of the addict’s continual denial, the co-addict has a need to provide “evidence” to ensure her soundness of mind — a ploy that rarely works and is exceedingly exhausting.The final distinction between sexual co-addicts and other co-dependents is the shame associated with this “secret”. Sex as an addiction is rarely discussed in “polite society” and there is a huge social stamina associated with it. Sexually addicted clients often tell me that they’d rather be alcoholics or drug addicts. The stigmatization of this compulsion almost ensures that the sexual co-dependent will want to hide or to provide a good “front” to deal with feelings of shame and despair. She may become socially isolated because she can’t discuss the situation with friends. Depression easily enters into an emotional environment of isolation and shame. Keeping secrets about important dimensions of life ensure that the issues underlying them will not be healed.· What’s involved in therapy for someone who is the partner of a sex addict?There is hope. The pain the sexual co-dependent experiences is normal. Learning a partner is sexually addicted can be devastating and debilitating. The betrayal triggers a myriad of strong emotions. Feelings of anguish, despair, rage, hopelessness and shame may overtake her. She may feel alone in unchartered territory, wondering “Where do I go from here?”Psychotherapy is extremely important. Be sure to find a therapist conversant with these issues. What should happen in your therapy?Treatment for sexual codependence can become a process of continued growth, self-realization and self-transformation. Working through feelings of victimization can lead to a new sense of resiliency. Going through this process can be an avenue to discovering meaning and to building stronger self-esteem. Challenges faced can elevate one to a higher level of well-being. A sense of serenity and peace from the appreciation of having worked through this process may occur.Lessons not learned in the family-of-origin can be now be learned and worked through: appropriate self-esteem, setting functional boundaries, awareness of, acknowledgment of and expression of one’s personal reality without undo fear of retaliation, and taking better care of one’s adult needs and wants while allowing other adults to take care of theirs are all potential gains to be made in therapy and recovery.Internal and external boundaries will be strengthened. Strong external boundaries will ensure that you will not again put yourself into a victim role. A sense of having internal boundaries will open up new avenues of healthy intimacy as you will know who you are and be able to hear who another is. At the heart of healthy intimacy is the ability to share your real self with another and be available when someone else shares his real self with you.The sexual co-depenent may find she no longer needs to bend herself into a pretzel to accommodate others. Rejection or disapproval may be unpleasant, but not devastating. Compromising personal integrity in order to get external approval and validation will cease. With increased self-knowledge comes the ability to Self-validate while still being in a relationship. Self esteem will be generated by her behaviors rather than the approval or validation from others.Finally, time and energy spent on preoccupation and control of the addict can be used to attend to emotional support for the children, to recommit to and obtain increased satisfaction from work, to meet new people, and to develop new recreational activities.· How can I possibly forgive him?Despite the fact that it may seem impossible, forgiveness is a critical part of recovery for the partner of a sex addict. To forgive is not to forget. Forgiving means being able to remember the past without experiencing the pain all over again. It is remembering — but attaching different feelings about the events, and it is a willingness to allow the pain to have decreased relevance over time. Understanding the pain, compulsion and despair that the sex addict has undergone from sexual compulsion can open avenues to compassion.To forgive is important primarily for oneself, not for the person one forgives. The opposite of forgiveness is resentment. When we resent, we experience the pain and anger all over again. Serenity and resentment cannot coexist.The process of forgiveness begins with acknowledging that a wrong has been done to you. You have to recognize that you have strong feelings about what happened and you need to feel and process those feelings. You are entitled to be angry or hurt. Ideally, you can share those feelings with the person who has hurt you in couples counseling. If that is not possible, then you can share the feelings with your therapist or support group. After that, you can choose whether to stay in a relationship with that person. In either case, forgiveness does not imply permission to continue hurtful behaviors. As part of your own treatment, you need to decide which behaviors you can accept in your relationships and which you cannot.The primary goal of forgiveness is to heal yourself. In a partnership affected by sexual addiction, forgiveness is aided by evidence of the partner’s changed behavior and commitment to treatment. These are also elements in rebuilding trust. For many couples, forgiving and learning to trust again go hand in hand. Both take time, making amends, continued treatment and steady, continual, trustworthy behavior on the part of the addict.After the acting out has stopped, it’s critical to not use his past behavior as a “hook” to punish or manipulate him. When a desire for revenge exists, you have not forgiven, and you see him in one dimension (“Bastard”). The capacity to see him as a whole person (he’s not just a sex addict, he’s many things) will help you move forward. Couples therapy will help you move toward a sense of him as a multidimensional person with on-going issues.· I’m incredibly frustrated that he/she won’t tell the truth. Even when I present “evidence”, he denies his sexual acting out. How can I ever trust a man who so blatantly lies to me?Sex addiction thrives in secrecy. Addicts will go to any length to protect their double life. Denial, (“Don’t Even Know I’m Lying”) plays a huge part in any addiction process. The reality of the acting out is protected from the conscious mind. If the addict is unaware of the truth, how can he tell you?The very thinking process of the addict becomes impaired as he becomes immersed in the denial process, giving way to the minimization of the extent of his behavior. This connects with “rationalization”: i.e. “I’m not really cheating” – “All guys do this” – “I’m not hurting anyone” – “I work hard so I deserve some pleasure.” This combination of denial, minimization and rationalization makes it extremely difficult for him to know the truth.More complexing is the phenomenon of “dissociation”, or “The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” syndrome. Dissociation is a clinical process that characterizes multiple personality disorder. While I’m not saying the sex addicts have MPD, I am suggesting that some of the same characteristics of that disorder are shared. One side of the personality protects the other side from the truth. Some level of dissociation is in every man who has a “double life”. Each side of the personality has different values, goals, beliefs and needs that conflict with the other side.This is why, when the sexual acting out is finished, the addict feels so distressed and shameful. Mr. Hyde does the acting out and Dr. Jekyll experiences the remorse.When the addict is acting out, he has feelings of being disconnected from himself and his environment. Clients speak of “the bubble”, the “erotic haze”, “zoning out”, and “feeling apart from myself and watching myself from afar “, of feeling “foggy” or “not feeling like a real person” Losing track of time is common as is feeling outside oneself as both an observer and a participant. Emotions are numbed; the fantasy creates an alternate reality which obscures the truth of “what is”.Once in therapy, a primary issue that arises is a feeling of a fragmented sense of self or being unsure of his identity. Therapy will help him get to the bottom of hidden parts of himself that he may not have fully understood or been able to control until treatment starts to work. Only by getting in touch with hidden parts of himself will the full realization of his talents and strengths be realized and fulfillment in his personal relationships can begin to unfold.· I don’t see how our relationship can survive the emotional pain and chaos of his sexual addiction. Have other couples been able to work through these issues? How have they done it?When at least one member of a couple is sexually addicted, restoring trust and building intimacy can be very difficult. These couples must work as hard on their recovery together as a couple as they do on their individual recoveries.One of the great challenges to recovery from sexual compulsivity is restoring or building an intimate relationship with a committed partner. Many existing relationships are seriously impaired and often don’t survive because of sexual acting out. The partner of the sex addict’s ability to trust is obviously damaged. The psychodynamic and behavioral issues underlying sexual addiction contribute to obstacles to overcoming and building intimate and committed relationships.The good news is that we have seen from our experience that not only is it possible to repair, rebuild, or newly build a committed relationship, but the level of emotional and physical intimacy that comes from working on these issues together is sustaining, gratifying and growth-producing for each member of the couple.· How can couples counseling help us?Most couples who come for couples therapy after discovery are in a high state of reactivity, with communication being limited to blame/defense. There is a high degree of projection (seeing the things you like least about yourself in your partner) and a small degree of self-focus. The tendency is to react immediately and emotionally, with no time given for reflective thinking. One task of the therapist is to create a safe, non-volatile space by gradually guiding each person to commit to self-focus which reduces blame and defense.The therapist will do some psychoeducational pieces on sex addiction and co-addiction to normalize each person’s feelings and further reduce blame. Nothing can be done about the quality of the marriage unless each person commits to a personal program of recovery: an “S” meeting for the addict, and COSA or S-Anon for the co-addict. The couple can come out of the shadow of shame about living with sex addiction through identifying with others who have gone through similar experiences. Here, finally, they find people they can talk to about what they’ve been hiding from family and friends. Regular attendance at meetings gives structure and accountability to the life of the sex addict. A co-addict who works on the steps with a trusted sponsor is renewing her commitment to focus on herself and her own issues, renouncing her focus and pre-occupation with the addict.Sex addicts and sexual codependents usually have never experienced healthy bonding with and nurturing from their parents. This impairs their ability to have successful bonding and separation in subsequent relationships in adult life. The therapist might construct a “genogram” which is a graphic depiction of three generations of each person’s family. It shows psychiatric and physical problems throughout the generations such as alcoholism, divorce, hospitalizations,etc. The genogram also reveals the quality of family relationships, indicating where there was enmeshment and where there was distancing. With a clear understanding of family-of-origin issues, the couple can understand themselves and each other and develop awareness of what triggers are coming from the past.Couples counseling enables the couple to reach a point of mutual interdependence in which both partners have lives outside of the relationship, but also feel committed to it. The partners need each other, but are comfortable with independent lives of their own. Over time, each develops a new sense of “Self”-in relationship.Both members of the relationship are encouraged to accept mutual responsibility for the dysfunction in the relationship. As long as one partner is blaming the other for all of their couple problems, progress will be slow. Recounting the history of the relationship will be a part of this process. How have each other’s addictions and co-addictions affected the relationship? What consequences have been experienced? What strategies have the partners tried to heal themselves that haven’t worked? What are the repetitive arguments and fights? What is the nature of the collective shame in the relationship? How does each partner trigger the other’s issues?Each individual in the couple learns how to exchange instant gratification for the joy of ongoing intimacy. Sexual addict/codependents find that this intimacy and the trust, mutual understanding, and the emotional/spiritual/physical closeness it creates from having done the work can be qualities that few couples ever experience.

How To Start A Photography Business – Knowing When You’re Really Ready And Knowing Other Differences

October 6, 2016

Here’s a question: How do you know when you’re ready to start a photography business? Answer: When you ‘know’ that you ‘know’ (the doublespeak is for emphasis) the difference between your artistic photography skills and your understanding of business. Knowing the difference makes the difference between success and failure when you start any type of business, for that matter.Tip #1Think about it, the art of taking pictures is getting easier and easier – especially with the advancement of technology. Digital technology has made photography so easy that it appears that everybody and their brothers and their sisters are photographers! Such ease makes photography a very popular attraction and very compelling to start a photo biz.But, what many budding photographers fail to realize and take seriously is that: Business is Business. Whether selling teddy bears, cell phones or photography, the business principles are the same. And they are basic and simple (not easy – simple). Successful photographers aren’t necessarily the most skilled. They understand and practice the basic and simple principles of running a photography business. They also don’t confuse the quality of their photography with the need to plan, market and operate their photography business.Don’t be confused! You must consistently produce top-notch quality products and photographic services. Constantly improving your skills is critical. So is the learning and consistent practice of business principles. If you don’t consistently practice the necessary business principles, budding photographers that do know the difference and practice the principles will get the customers and the business that should be yours. If you fail to practice the principles you will fail at your photography business attempts. Period. You will be another charter member of the ‘starving artist’ club! There’s a reason why they’re ‘starving!’

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Once you do start a picture-taking business, every day that you’re in business there’s opportunity to grow and prosper, and the chance to stagnate and fail. Your being clear on the difference between photography practices and business practices determine the success of your photography business more than your photographic skills and talents. Be sure to spend as much time developing your photography skills as you do your business (marketing, self-promotion activities, for example) skills and you will find success.Compliment vs Reality – Tip #2Most budding photographers have this experience: a good friend, family member or neighbor sees a photograph and ‘raves’ how good it looks and how ‘valuable’ it ‘should’ be! Somewhere in their raving they proclaim, “you should sell that, you’ll probably make a lot of money!” Red flag warning! What is given as a compliment of your photograph is instantly translated to your having a “diamond” that you can sell and that will change your ‘status’ in life. Here’s a test: the next time you receive such a ‘compliment,’ do this: thank them and then ask them how much are they willing to pay you for the photo? I promise you that the same ‘expert’ that just raved about your valuable artwork will pass on the ‘opportunity’ to grab up your ‘valuable’ artistic photo. In the photography business value is determined by other criteria than a compliment or two. Knowing the difference contributes to your success in business.Develop your knowledge and skill and your confidence as a photographer will dramatically increase. Likewise with business: develop and practice basic business principles and your confidence as a successful professional photographer will dramatically increase. I promise.Research Builds Confidence – Tip #3Do your research. Go online and read the available research on the business of photography. Read before you buy. Online research is just a click away. Take your time. Take advantage of free and easily available information online. If you choose to buy something offered, determine what goals you want to accomplish and ask yourself will what you’re buying help you to really meet your goals. Avoid the resources that promise and guarantee you that you can make $200 – $300 a day overnight – for obvious reasons. Also, there are no “secrets that the pros don’t want you to know!” There is information that you do not know now. But, isn’t information that is unknowable or impossible to find out – they’re just unknown to you at this time. Do your research. Besides, if they’re for sale, how “secret” can they be? Do your researchIn the business of photography, it is more profitable to specialize. Specialization (also referred to as your “photography niche”) is how your customers will find you. Another development of technology is how customers – those who can afford and are willing to spend money for photography – find the photography that they buy. They look for something specific (in photographer speak that means “photography niche”). Go online and do a search on “photography niche” and take advantage of the information available. Remember, read before you buy; there are no “secrets that the pros don’t want you to know;” and great photography does not sell itself. In the world of business, nothing does.For business purposes, go online and do a search on different business topics that you want more information about. For example, do a search for “photography marketing” or “marketing for photographers” or “amateur photography tips” or “how to sell photos online” or “how to start a photography business” etc. etc. Read before you buy.Know And Start Where You Are And Be ‘Sincere’ – Tip #4

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Start where you are with the equipment that you have. If you don’t have a photography studio don’t take on photography jobs that require a studio. Don’t be all things to all people – remember, specialize (research “photography niche” – you’ll be head and shoulders above the majority of your competition). If you feel that you have to purchase equipment to take on a job – that’s a red flag that you’re not ready, yet. In successful photography, the profit is in the “photography niche” and your understanding of that simple difference.Doing your research will prepare you for one of the biggest challenges most photographers have – pricing. The challenge of knowing exactly what to charge stops most of us in our tracks. It shouldn’t! Do your research. Search “photography pricing,” for example. The information is available and most of it is free. Remember, read before you buy.In my opinion, there really is no one criteria needed to start a profitable photo business. However, my experience has convinced me that self-confidence is the most significant asset a photographer in business can possess. You develop that self-confidence by knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know – and being crystal clear on the difference. Confidence is gained by knowing the necessary criteria needed and knowing that you possess the knowledge and skills to consistently accomplish tasks in a satisfactory manner.Research, develop and practice both your photography knowledge and skills as well as your photography business knowledge and skills.Finally, when vaudevillian, George Burns, was asked what was the secret to his successful career, he responded – “sincerity, be sincere – even if you have to fake it!”

How to Choose a Martial Arts School – 10 Steps Guaranteed to Save You Time and Money

October 7, 2016

What are the most important things to look for when comparing martial arts schools?
What are the tell tale signs of a quality school that you can spot immediately?
What are the best questions to ask, and how do you know if they can really deliver?
What part of a contract can you negotiate?These are just some of the important questions you need to know how to answer before shopping around for a martial arts school.A commitment to martial arts is an investment in time and money, so knowing exactly what to look for in a school, and knowing what questions to ask, will give you the clarity and confidence to make a smart choice.A bad choice in a martial arts school can be an expensive lesson, so use this guide to educate yourself.There is a huge variety of martial arts schools out there. Facilities range from expensive health-club-like facilities to open space warehouses. Martial arts schools aren’t regulated to insure quality of instruction or business practice. There is no official governing body and no universal grading standard in martial arts. Almost anyone can open a school and appear to be an expert.What do you look for beyond price, amenities and convenient schedules? While most people first consider price and the facility, there are more important factors that you need to consider first!These 10 steps show you how to make the best decision in choosing a martial arts school:Objective
Instructors
Class Dynamic
Student Results
Curriculum
Style
Facility
Service
Price/Fees
Instinct1. OBJECTIVE:Before you start looking into martial arts schools, determine your true goals for martial arts practice. To get the most out of your training, clearly identify your real goals and the specific benefits you want to have.Ultimately, you just want to feel good about yourself and feel super confident, right?However, this is usually not enough of a specific emotional motivator for consistent practice.The majority of people who start martial arts rarely make it past a few months of consistent practice. It’s not just a lack of motivation. Not having clear goals is usually why people don’t follow through in practice.To determine what you really want from training, start by narrowing down what you wish to focus on.The focus of your practice can be broken down into several areas. There’s no right or wrong – it comes down to personal preference.For starters, you can number these in order of importance.Physical Fitness as the main goal, with martial arts aptitude as a secondary benefit.
Purely Combative Focus, with fitness and personal growth as added benefits
Creative and Artistic Expression, aesthetics, beauty and WOW Factor
Competitive Focus, sports aspects such as one on one competition
Mental and Emotional Growth, catalyst for self-discovery and spiritual growth, cultural and philosophical interestsAsk yourself clarifying “Why” questions, so you can identify what you’re really going for.This is the first step in filtering the selection of schools to choose from. Once you’ve identified your goals for martial arts practice and understand why they are your goals, you’re ready to search for a school.2. INSTRUCTORS:An instructor plays the key role in how you will achieve your goals.Finding a good instructor is more important than choosing a style, and is probably the biggest factor in your decision to join a school. It’s nice to have impressive amenities and expensive equipment, but ultimately a martial arts school is only as good as it’s instructors.Being a black belt doesn’t qualify someone to teach!A competent instructor is knowledgeable, experienced, and has the ability to effectively pass on his craft.
A good instructor possesses leadership and communication skills.
A great instructor will also display sincere empathy, showing a genuine interest in helping you achieve your goals, bringing out your individual strengths.Look for other attributes that increase an instructor’s ability to add value to your training:Proven competitive track record, such as World Champion Titles
A degree in an area such as psychology, sports medicine, kinesiology or related fields
Military, law enforcement, or security experience
Involvement in a credible martial arts organization
Extensive knowledge of a culture or philosophy that you’re interested inAlthough an instructor’s experience and background provides some credibility, don’t be overly impressed with awards and certificates.Their mindset and level of experience will be apparent through subtleties in character and by their actions.Quality instructors are sincerely interested in helping You and won’t feel the need to boast about their own credentials or prove themselves. Instead of boosting their own egos, high-level instructors are very attentive on coaching you to achieve your goals.You can often measure an instructor more accurately by their students’ results and satisfaction than by credentials alone. The students themselves may be the greatest indication of the quality of instruction.Just like a good business is constantly researching and developing, high-level instructors research and develop methodologies in order to continually improve. A lifetime training in martial arts isn’t enough to reach human potential!A high level instructor portrays noble characteristics of a role model and leader.Confident instructors welcome feedback and respond to your questions with patience and insight. They are usually very humble, and rarely speak negatively about any other school or style.Also, find out if the school’s head instructor is actively teaching. Some schools have classes primarily taught by an assistant or senior students, while the head instructor only makes an occasional appearance.While assistant instructors may be totally capable of teaching, watch out for schools that “sell” you on the instructor but have someone else teaching.3. CLASS DYNAMIC:Make sure you know how to evaluate a school in two parts, the content and the context.The context of a martial arts school is made up of the training methods and environment. What kind of setting is the school providing?A supportive learning environment is crucial to maximize the assimilation and retention of material. The context of training can be more important than the content, (or material), intended to be learned.Look for context such as:The collective mood or energy of the instructors and students
The class dynamic – structure and flow
How the amenities and equipment are used
The training methodologies
How the ranking system is structured
The quality of serviceOne of the best ways to evaluate a school is to watch or participate in a class.You can watch videos, visit a website and read all about the credentials and features of a school. However, you can only get a true feel by “test driving” the actual group classes. Many schools offer free consultations or introductory private lessons.If a school allows you to watch, or better yet, participate in a class without obligation it speaks highly of their confidence and transparency.

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The class dynamic is the best demonstration of the instructor’s martial arts aptitude and ability to teach. It reveals how the students interact with each other and the instructor. It’s also the perfect opportunity to see how their curriculum is implemented into training.Consider the size of the classes and how that may effect your training. The make up and flow of the classes will either help your learning experience or hurt it.Look for the following:Is there a significant age difference among students that may restrict your practice?
Is there a significant difference in the students’ experiences or physical abilities?
How formal or informal are the classes? And, how does that effect your practice?
How much supportive individual attention do the students receive?
Is there anything about the facility that’ll hinder your practice? such as cleanliness, stale air, too cold or hot, distracting noises, etc.Many beginners prefer large classes. It can be easier to follow along with the examples of many other students. There’s also less intimidation as the collective group dynamic can conceal individual insecurities and lessons the pressure to keep up.On the flip side, there is a key benefit to smaller classes that’s important to consider. There is more opportunity to receive personal attention from instructors that can greatly accelerate your learning curve.Again, instructors are the backbone of a martial arts school. The instructor consciously, or unconsciously, dictates the energy of the entire class.Here are some other things to look for:Does the instructor facilitate class with control and safety? (Notice if the students are enjoying themselves or seem uncomfortable and hesitant).
Is the instructor passionate and actively teaching or seemingly going through the motions and mechanically calling out commands?
Do the students seem inspired?A martial arts school provides the setting of a controlled environment where you’ll train to overcome future or potential challenges. In order to maximize results, good schools teach in a context that anticipates and matches the actual environment of those future and potential challenges.The classes must simulate the intended environment and must provide the necessary emotional stress in order to engrain instinctual trained responses.For example:If you’re seeking a combative style for self-defense, look for schools that safely facilitate reality based, high-stress scenario exercises.
If you’re training to fight in a ring or cage, look for a school that teaches you how to maneuver in the confines of a ring/cage under the same guidelines of the competition.
If you’re goal is to perform in tournaments, look for a school that can facilitate your training in a loud, distracting environment with large mirrors and an audience.
If your goal is to have fun getting in shape, look for classes that use good training equipment, have high energy, exciting exercises and a social atmospherePay attention to the flow of the class and notice how much of the class time is instructional. Some schools implement a lot of conditioning drills while others teach with a lot of verbal explanations. Notice if they have a lot of unnecessary “filler time”.It’s also a good idea to inquire about the school’s ranking system. Most traditional schools use some modification of a belt system, but what’s required to earn each belt can vary drastically from school to school.Is there a clear standard for aptitude and execution of techniques at each level? Or are the requirements based on time and the amount of classes taken?Many schools test for promotions after a set number of classes. This gives the perception of building capable intermediate and advanced students, which can be an important aspect of a school’s perceived value. Not to mention, belt promotions are a crucial source of income for some schools.Remember that there’s no official governing body in martial arts, so belt levels may not be valid outside of that school or organization.4. STUDENT RESULTS:The students provide tremendous insight as to the quality of instruction. You can often tell more about a school by the students’ results than anything else.The students are the products of the school’s training system and methodologies. If the advanced students don’t model your martial arts goals go find another school!When observing the students, pay attention to the ratio of beginner to advanced students. It’s a good sign if there are a lot of intermediate and advanced students. That means the school is able to retain their students, and usually equates to student satisfaction.Just as you probably don’t want to eat at a restaurant that’s always empty, be cautious of a school with a few students. What’s considered a small student base? Depending on the size of the facility and how long they’ve been in business, classes that have less than 10 students is a pretty strong sign that there’s something lacking in the school.Consider the characteristics and personalities of the students as well. It’s important that you are comfortable with your classmates cause you may be spending a lot of time with them.Are they the types of people you’d like to be around and train with?
Would you feel comfortable and safe training with them?
Are the students supportive of one another or are they highly competitive and trying to outdo each other?The student dynamic may also reveal how the instructor instills leadership and other life skills that you may wish to develop. Watch how the advanced students handle both challenges and successes.Take the initiative to speak to some of the students. Getting insight from existing students can make all the difference in your decision to join.5. CURRICULUM:Remember that a martial arts school can be evaluated in two parts, content and context. The curriculum and style of a school make up the content.Whether they call themselves a martial arts school, studio, academy, gym, or dojo, they are still businesses. They will promote themselves in creative ways to gain an edge over the competition. You can expect them to entice you with price incentives, boast their credentials, amenities and equipment, or make claims to get you results in the shortest amount of time possible.Don’t allow marketing tactics to distract you from determining if the school can actually support your training goals.Whatever a school claims to provide in your martial arts training, their students, classes and curriculum will give you a good indication of the school’s quality and true emphasis.The martial arts curriculum, (content), is made up of the techniques and material you will be learning at a school.The focus of your training must be supported by the curriculum and training methods.There are key points to look for in determining the quality of a curriculum. Begin by identifying the school’s emphasis. Take into consideration that when there is more focus on one aspect of martial arts, other areas are compromised to some degree.Forms and jump spinning kicks in the curriculum? You’ve most likely found a school with an artistic or traditional focus that may participate in tournaments. If this is what you’re after, the curriculum should consist of aesthetic techniques that have dynamic kicks and beautiful forms with and without weapons.
Are the techniques based on kickboxing and wrestling? A lot of sparring and no weapons in the curriculum? This is probably a school that focuses on one-on-one sport competition. Schools that build towards competition usually emphasize physical conditioning to reach peak performance.Although physical fitness may not be the primary goal in many styles, fitness is generally a by-product of training. You get in shape by default in martial arts practice.The majority of schools have a curriculum designed to provide a general overall perspective on fitness, sport competition and self-defense. For most people who are just beginning martial arts, a school’s curriculum and interpretation of martial concepts should be comprehensive enough to support you through many years of practice. If this is the case, start to look into other components of the school like their class dynamic.For those who have martial arts experience, or seeking a specific area of focus, determine if the school’s curriculum actually supports the emphasis you’re looking for.It’s not uncommon for a school’s true emphasis to be different from how they market themselves. Take note of the techniques in their curriculum and their applications.For example, let’s say your primary reason for martial arts training is purely for self-defense on the streets. You visit a school that claims to be proficient in teaching self-defense. Yet, they teach fixed stances and forms and only implement weapons training in advanced levels.This is a big red flag! This doesn’t mean it’s not a good school. It only reveals that their true emphasis is not truly combative.70% of assaults on the street involve some sort of weapon and over 90% of attacks go to the ground. Any school that claims to teach true self-defense while neglecting weapons training and ground fighting is just plain negligent.You should seek elsewhere if this is your focus. Modern combative styles will implement training in weapons and ground fighting right from the beginning.Training methods also implement high stress scenario drills with multiple attackers. You won’t find fancy acrobatics in the curriculum.Remember the old adage, “A jack of all trades is master of none.” Be cautious of a school that claims to deliver health and fitness AND teach you culture and philosophy AND turn you into a professional fighter AND prepare you for the streets AND promise personal or spiritual growth.6. STYLE:Martial arts can be compared to a huge tree with many branches or styles. All “styles” are based on the mechanics of the human body. Every style has strengths and weaknesses as they each focus on different aspects of the arts.The true measure of a martial art lies in the practitioner, not the style.Having a general understanding of the different types of styles and their focus will help you in achieving your goals. In martial arts there are hard styles and soft styles.Hard Styles focus on striking techniques where the body is used as a weapon for attacking and defending – force against force. Much of the training is external, based on physical conditioning for strength and agility.
Soft Styles focus on redirection and physical manipulation through leverage and positioning – using an opponent’s force against him. There is often more focus on internal training, training of the mind as well as developing the body’s sensitivity to energy.
Blended Styles incorporate concepts from both hard and soft styles in a complimentary method, flowing and transitioning from hard to soft and vice versa.Depending on the area of focus, each style differs in philosophy and training methods. Applications obviously differ as well.Among styles the emphasis of training will primarily focus on one of the following areas:Artistic Expression – Schools with an artistic focus emphasize creative physical expression – the “art” aspect of “martial arts”. Artistic styles implement forms or choreographed techniques in training. They typically have more aesthetic beauty, as movements are fluid and graceful like a gymnast or dancer.Tradition – Traditional styles are rooted with Eastern culture and philosophy. Traditional schools implement both external and internal training for the development of the mind-body-spirit relationship. With this emphasis, martial arts practice serves as lessons for life skills. Practice may also encompass elements of spiritualism.Competition – Competitive styles generally focus on the sports aspect of martial arts. Competitions can range by category including weight class, level of experience, geographic region and specific style. The emphasis is on winning recognition such as rankings, awards, and trophies that is based on a fixed set of rules.Combat – Combative styles focus on street defense or military application, including law enforcement. It’s the “martial” part of “martial arts”. The emphasis is on practical application over aesthetic form or physical conditioning. Training includes weapons and reality based scenario exercises.Fitness – Schools that focus on fitness use martial arts as a catalyst for holistic health. Classes usually consist of fun, energetic physical exercises based on martial arts techniques. Classes will typically implement a broad and general combination of styles and areas of focus.There are also Modern Styles, which are evolved blended styles that are the result of further researched and developed methodologies. Their focus can be artistic, competitive, combative, or emphasize physical fitness.While it may be a good idea to blend styles, it can be counter productive to combine your area of focus. Be clear on which area you wish to predominantly focus on.Again, there’s no right or wrong style. It’s a matter of personal goals and preference.7. FACILITY:The first thing to consider is the school’s location in relation to your home or workplace.Creating a new habit can be challenging, so convenience plays a big role in supporting consistency. You may be commuting several times a week for training, so make sure the facility is close enough so it doesn’t become an excuse for you not to go.Martial arts schools come in many forms. They can be part of a franchise, belong to an organization, or be a one man show run by a single instructor. They may resemble a fitness gym, yoga studio, gymnasium or warehouse.Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t judge a martial arts school by it’s facility.Although you can’t measure the quality of a school by the facility alone, it does reveal a lot about the owners mindset, aptitude, emphasis of the style and curriculum, as well as the school’s level of professionalism.The degree of cleanliness may reflect the standard of service. You can get a good idea of the school’s style and emphasis by the school’s design.A school should have the amenities and equipment that support the context of it’s curriculum, such as a cage or ring for MMA or kickboxing, proper mats for Jiu Jitsu, etc.Consider what the school puts money into and determine if it actually adds value to your training.Also notice the subtle details of the facility that may effect on your training. Does the air stink? Does the lighting or colors of the facility effect your energy and mood? How’s the parking? Is it noisy?Remember, expensive equipment, and other luxuries equals higher tuition fees. Be aware of the costs of extra rooms and large offices that don’t directly add value to your training.With a good instructor and some basic equipment you can practice anywhere!8.SERVICE:Some schools have great sales and marketing techniques to get you to join. But, it’s the quality of ongoing customer service that really counts.

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Choosing a school that’s skilled in customer service will potentially save you from a lot of unnecessary headache. Poor customer service can ruin your martial arts experience at any level.Make sure that there are open lines of communication and that staff members are readily accessible to answer questions to your satisfaction.You may be with a school for many months or even years. Choose a school that cares enough to build a relationship with you.Know how to distinguish sales techniques from service.As mentioned, some schools are great at getting you in the door with attractive features and promotions. The question is, once you have signed up are you just another enrollment?A good comparison is the large franchised fitness gyms. Their amenities, equipment and low monthly fees are hard to pass up. However, once you join there’s virtually no service whatsoever. There are too many people who have gym memberships and don’t use them. They already have your financial commitment – a contract. Rest assured their service will pick up when it’s time for renewal. But is that service or just another sales technique?The level of transparency is the greatest measure of a school’s integrity. It’s a reflection of their standards of service.Does the school fully disclose all the costs involved in your training? Some schools have additional fees, like mandatory programs or association fees, that they don’t mention until you reach a certain point in your training.
When you have questions, do you get a clear answer right away or do you get an evasive response? The response you get is a good sign of what kind of service you can expect.
Many schools require you to sign a contract in order to take classes. Some schools offer a trial period where you can pay for a number of classes before you agree to a contract. A contract is simply a written agreement between you and the school, and it can always be negotiated. They should be willing to explain the details of the contract to your full understanding and agree to make any changes you feel are important, as long as it’s mutually beneficial.9. Price and Fees:How important is price to you? For many people, it’s the only real limiting factor.Since most people don’t know how to compare value to price, martial arts schools generally don’t advertise their prices – unless they’re promotional.Be honest. Before you read this guide, what’s one of the first thing you wanted to know about a martial arts school?Fees are usually priced by:Term period – specified time period with flexibility of the amount of classes taken, usually monthly or yearly
Number of classes – specified amount of classes taken
Combination of term and number of classes – usually a monthly fee based on the number of classes taken per week
Specific Programs – packaged programs such as Black Belt Clubs, Instructor Programs, Certification Programs, Seminars, etc.Tuition can range anywhere from $50 per month to $500 per month, depending on the school. Nowadays, the average tuition is about $150 per month for 2-3 classes per week.Tuition isn’t the only cost to consider. You will eventually be investing in training equipment, to some extent. Keep in mind that some styles require more equipment.While price is important, a common mistake is to compare price without comparing value.Consider the previous steps and the benefits before you focus on price. This way you can place some sort of dollar value on each component of a school and then shop around.Think of the convenience of schedule and location, the suitability of teaching style, class dynamic and level of instruction in relation to your personality and goals – can you put a price on that?With the knowledge you gained by reading this guide, you can make an educated choice in “how to invest” in your training instead of “being sold” a membership.Most schools require annual contracts. The contract should clearly explain the details of your membership. Generally, schools don’t offer any refunds on tuition.In most cases, a school will agree to make reasonable changes to the contract if you ask them.If you’re committed to your practice and have found a school following this guide, signing a contract is usually not an issue. However, knowing potential costs and understanding school policies will help you negotiate any changes, if necessary. What you’re really after is “peace of mind”, isn’t it?A contract should be mutually beneficial, so you want to insure that the contract also benefits you. This can mean discounted rates, as an example. A contract is also an incentive for you to get your money’s worth by coming to class regularly.Ask about:Price incentives for paying in full
Discounts for family members
Training equipment – and if they have to be purchased directly from the school
Belt testing fees
Any federation or association member fees
Cost for programs such as Black Belt Clubs and any other mandatory programs
Membership freezes in case of travel, injury, or maternity
Policy for relocation or moving
Fees for early cancellationIt’s also a good idea to ask whether the billing is managed directly by the school or if they use a billing company. Many schools use a billing company to help manage your tuition payments.If the school out-sources their billing, you will be dealing with the billing company for the payment of your tuition fees. The billing company will generally only contact you if you are late on your payment. If you ever have to deal with the billing company you can expect the type of service you get from a collection agency. They can also make negative reports on your credit.A high-quality school has the confidence to earn your business without requiring a contract. But they are rare. These schools are clear about their role. They focus on their core responsibility of providing quality instruction and guidance in your martial arts practice. Schools of this caliber don’t need to use creative sales and marketing techniques. Their business is built by their reputation, word-of-mouth.10. INSTINCT:Pay attention to your intuition when visiting a school. While going through the 10 steps outlined in this guide, you’ll instinctively know when you’ve found the right school.How long the school has been in business? Are they stable?
Are you confident in the instructor?
Do you like the instructor’s teaching style and personality?
Are the students friendly?
Did you have fun? Did you feel inspired?Ultimately, we make decisions based on our emotions and we justify them with logic. Your decision should be instant and definite. If you find yourself thinking too much or having to convince yourself, something is out of whack. Go back to step 1 or keep looking.

Hoodia and Alli – Product Reviews

October 30, 2016

Obesity is a growing concern in our generation. Millions of Americans who buy diet products are diagnosed as obese or overweight, with a lot more in other countries. This phenomenon was caused by a mixture of a sedentary lifestyle and an improper, fat-filled diet. As we grow increasingly interconnected, many people can now work in the comfort of their own homes. While this has proven to be an advantage, these same people can become obese if they’re not careful.Because of the prevalence of obesity worldwide, several companies have produced diet products that claim to help in weight loss. Some of these products are chemical in nature, while others are simply herbal supplements. One difference that isn’t readily apparent is the fact that herbal supplements like hoodia don’t have to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Because of its nature as a supplement (as opposed to a drug), the FDA simply has to make sure that the substance is safe for regular use. It doesn’t have to be approved in terms of effectiveness.

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Patients who buy Alli, on the other hand, can be sure that it has FDA approval for diet products. It wouldn’t be released otherwise. It is marketed as safe and effective, and the official Alli website partners the medication with a comprehensive weight loss program that encourages a change in lifestyle and eating habits.How these two substances work are vastly different. Hoodia was discovered during the mid-30s when anthropologists noted that African tribesmen ate the plant to prevent hunger. Pretty soon, the plant was being studied for its applications to diet products. This particular diet supplement works on the body by suppressing appetite. Specifically, it tells the brain that the body has already eaten enough, and thus a person who ingests it doesn’t feel hunger for a longer period of time.When you buy Alli, you’ll notice several key differences. One of the most major differences is that it doesn’t do what hoodia does to the brain. In contrast to sending signals to the brain, this weight loss drug instead disables the primary enzyme that helps the body digest fat. This allows the unabsorbed fat molecules to be discharged through the bowels. In other words, they aren’t stored in the body like they normally would be.Like all oral medications, both of these substances have side effects. Those who buy Alli may experience diarrhea and frequent bowel movements. This can be attributed to the drug’s work with the fat in the body, and a low-fat diet will help minimize this side effect. Hoodia has been reported to have negative effects on the liver. Because studies haven’t been adequately done on this supplement, there are no official reports about its side effects. As a safety precaution, diabetics, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and hypertensive patients should avoid taking it.

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With the availability of diet products on the market, we’re making headway in the battle against obesity. Whether it’s a chemical drug like Alli or an herbal supplement like hoodia, modern medicine has given us some of the tools to fight this condition. However, a complete victory really can’t be declared without the appropriate changes in lifestyle and diet. Supplements alone aren’t going to keep us healthy.

Mental Health Stigma

October 3, 2016

Despite the increase in publicity surrounding mental health and mental health issues, there is still a lack of understanding about mental health in general. For example, a research survey published by the government “Attitudes to Mental Illness 2007″ reported that 63% of those surveyed described someone who is mentally ill as suffering from schizophrenia, and more than half believed that people with mental illness should be kept in a psychiatric ward or hospital. Overall the results showed that positive attitudes to people with mental health had actually decreased since 1994 which is worrying indeed.Amazingly, many people still don’t understand that mental health problems affect most of us in one way or another, whether we are suffering from a mental illness ourselves or not. If we bear in mind that a quarter of the population are suffering from some kind of mental health problem at any one time, then the chances are, even if we personally don’t have a mental illness, we will know someone close to us who does, so it is our responsibility to understand what mental illness is and what can be done about it.Many people with mental health problems will often feel isolated and rejected and too afraid to share their problems with others purely because of the way they might be perceived. This lack of understanding means they are less likely to get the kind of help and support they need and are in danger of slipping even further into depression and mental illness. People need to understand that mental illness need not be a barrier to a better quality of life and that help is available and that most people with a mental health problem can regain full control over their lives if they get the support they need.

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A new guide to mental healthThe Royal College of Psychiatrists has produced a new guide to mental health which was published in November 2007 and is aimed at informing the general public about what mental illness is and is a big step towards tackling the stigma that is still attached to mental illness.The guide is written in an easy to understand format and over 60 mental health experts have contributed to it. The Mind: A User’s Guide contains chapters that cover a whole range of mental illnesses and includes a section on how the brain works, how mental illness is diagnosed, and how to cope with it.A Scottish surveyIn Scotland, a national survey of public attitudes to mental health Well? What Do You Think? (2006) was published in September 2007 and highlighted that although people living in socially deprived areas have a higher incidence of mental health, the level of stigmatisation is still no lower than in other areas. This suggests that being confronted with mental illness is not enough to change the attitudes towards it.There are also gender differences too. According to the Scottish survey, men with a mental health problem were more likely to be treated with suspicion than women and were also more inclined to avoid social contact with someone else with a mental health problem. Even out of those who displayed a positive attitude towards people with mental health problems, many said they would be reluctant to tell anyone if they had a mental health problem themselves which just goes to show that there is still fear surrounding other peoples’ perceptions of mental health.A CIPD SurveyA recent study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and KPMG consultants surveyed over 600 employers and reported that doctors are not doing enough to help people with mental health problems return to work and that this is costing the business world billions of pounds. For example, only 3% of the participants rated doctor support as “very good”.It may be that doctors really don’t know what else to offer someone suffering from depression and anxiety other than drugs and time off work. Even more worrying was the fact that 52% of employers maintained that they never hired anyone with a history of mental illness which serves to perpetuate the stigma. On a more positive note, of those that did hire someone with a mental health problem, more than half said the experience had been “positive”.

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Changing attitudesA lot is being done by governments and organisations to try to change public attitudes towards mental health but is it enough? Until we all recognise that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, it can affect any one of us at any time regardless of our age, gender or social background, the stigma attached to mental illness is likely to persist.Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, it can affect any one of us at any time regardless of our age, gender or social background, and yet the stigma attached to mental illness still persists. Although a number of government initiatives, awareness campaigns and organisations have been set up specifically to tackle mental health stigma and change our attitudes towards mental health in general, there is still a long way to go.It is therefore up to each and every one of us as individuals to make sure we are well informed and understand the issues involved because only when the public are fully aware of the facts will mental health stigma become a thing of the past.

Free Internet Marketing Software Keyword Generator

October 1, 2016

As you begin your search for new free internet marketing software and free keyword generator programs there are certain things that you must do to maximize your efforts. Remember that time is your most valuable commodity as an internet marketer and simply put we as marketers do not have time to waste looking at, reading about and testing new software programs that offer the following;1.) Trial Use2.) Limited Use3.) Timed Use4.) Demo Only5.) Light VersionI’m sure that from time to time you will find a truly wonderful program that defies all of the odds, but let’s look at this from a practical point of view here. How much time was spent getting to the point where you found that software program? Was it really worth all the hassles? More often than not I’m sure that you’ll agree that it would be better if you could simply find a website that reviewed these so called “free internet marketing software programs” and “free keyword generators”. And of course finding such a site that also offered a blog or forum for viewer comments would be even better.To prove this let’s do a brief study on free internet marketing software and high quality free keyword generators. For the sake of argument let’s run a search on Google for a “free keyword generator”.Case Study #1:Free Keyword List Generator by Stomper Net – My first thoughts were WOW another GREAT free or low cost promotional tool being offered by Stomper Net! Then I realized that I had to sign up for their email list AGAIN and register to use the tool. Once I’d jumped through these initial proverbial hoops I was shocked to find that I’d overlooked the fact that this software uses Word Tracker Keywords.

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This means that my software would need to be upgraded to unlock it’s full potential, which of course would cost money. Worse than that I might need to sign up for the Word Tracker Keywords program and that means I could possibly end up paying for a monthly or annual subscription to their service.* Before I offend anyone I do realize that Stomper Net and the Word Tracker Keyword program are both well respected staples in the internet marketing niche. However, in this case it is my goal to help people find completely FREE full version internet marketing software and keyword generator software that they can use to promote their products, services and affiliate programs with.Case Study #2:Good Keywords – At first site their website looks very well organized and professional. They offer free full version keyword research tools and keyword generator software that looks like it will do exactly what we’ve all be looking for. At one time this may have been a state of the art program back when Yahoo’s Overture worked reliably on a consistent basis.The problem with this free internet marketing software group is that it is completely reliant on a program that is so over used that the mere traffic to the Yahoo Overture website alone bogs down their system so badly that you’re lucky if you can even get their website pages to load from one visit to the next.* Also sadly in this internet marketer’s humble opinion the results that are pulled with the free Yahoo Overture tool has proven to be unreliable and unstable at best. Again, I don’t mean to offend anyone and I’m sure that at one time this was a GREAT program, but there are newer and better things.Case Study #3:Global Promoter – The first thing I noticed on their website was this;”Please be patient. This may take up to 2 minutes because it compiles the results of 6 major search engines. Sometimes no results are returned even though there are queries performed on the keywords you typed in during the given month. If this occurs, just hit submit again until the correct results are returned.”In theory this looks GREAT if they’re really using this free internet marketing software program, or in this case, free keyword generator software, to search on SIX major search engines! However, what I found next really bothered me.
“No Searches Done in March 2008 on the Overture network of search engines for your keyword.”This only left me thinking that there I was again using a program that was completely reliant on Yahoo’s Overture, which again in my humble opinion was outdated, unreliable and inconsistent.Case Study #4:Google AdWords Free Keyword Generator Tool – With this free internet marketing software program I thought that I’d finally struck oil. After all no website is more revered, searched and used online for things of this nature than the mighty Google themselves! With that in mind I typed in my favorite set of keyword search terms;”free internet marketing software”Unfortunately the results that were returned consisted of 3 targeted keyword phrases and 11 other keyword phrases that had NOTHING to do with any form of internet marketing software.Case Study #5:Traffic Zap’s Free Keyword Generator – Let me cut this one short by telling you that when I tried to use it the first thing I got was a POP UP with something that looked mildly semi-pornographic. It then appeared to be processing for some time only to return an error message that once again leads back to problems that we’ve already discussed regarding the long list of free internet marketing software programs that rely on Yahoo’s Overture.

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At this point we’ve researched ALL of the top 5 unique listings on Google for “free keyword generator” and we have yet to find a truly reliable free internet marketing software program that we can use to promote our products, services or affiliate marketing programs…..other than ones that we would most likely have to PAY to upgrade, such as the program by Stomper Net mentioned above.Final Case Study:Free Keyword Generator by IM Software 4 Free – This program checks for a list of popular keywords by searching on Google, Yahoo and MSN combined to come up with a more complete starting point for internet marketers to use. It also runs a search on these 3 major search engines to find out how many competitor posts show up for each of the chosen keywords.While no free internet marketing software or free keyword generator is going to be perfect this tool is truly a GREAT program to use and best of all it’s completely FREE to download and use. There is no trial use, limited use, timed use, demo or light version that leads to a paid upgrade or leaves you out hanging in the wind to PAY if you want to use the software after a specific time frame.

Insight: Five Reasons the Nonwovens Market Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

September 10, 2016

Today, innovations in nonwovens are growing as quickly as global demand. From housewraps to laundry aids, nonwovens open up a large and ever-increasing number of possibilities for a range of industries.This insight refers to all industrial nonwovens which are sold business to business and are used mostly in commercial operations. Applications are diverse, and include automobile body degreasing, hard surface cleaning and skin preparation. In 2012, the global consumption of industrial non-wovens was 3.30 million tonnes, and this is forecast to reach 4.95 million tonnes by 2017.In this insight, we examine: what are the main drivers behind this impressive growth of industrial nonwovens?1.) Low raw material supply and cost
Industrial nonwovens are less expensive to produce than most alternative products. This low cost is measured not only in currency but in consumption of raw materials. Nonwovens use a significant percentage of European and American wood pulp, which is not petroleum based, and is also renewable and relatively inexpensive. As oil is expected to increase in both demand and price until 2017, use of natural fiber for nonwovens in the place of petroleum based material is favourable.Water is also becoming a scarce resource as industries and populations compete for supplies. Woven cotton textiles require a great deal of freshwater irrigation, as well as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The replacement of woven cotton textiles with wood pulp and/or rayon-based nonwovens therefore not only saves money, but valuable resources.

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2.) Advantageous manufacturing processes
Nonwovens are usually made using relatively new technologies and use less energy, produce minimum effluent and require fewer raw materials than older methods of production. For example, the now common spunbonding process is only around 50-60 years old, whereas textile spinning and paper-making have been around for a few thousand years.There are also fewer resources required during the nonwoven production process. Spunlaid, needlepunch, carded and airlaid nonwovens use little or no water, while spunlace uses almost no chemicals and recycles 99% of the water it uses. Nonwoven processes are typically very flexible. This has meant that many industrial processes can rapidly and inexpensively change to produce multiple different products, allowing a much greater degree of product diversification than is possible with wovens or other materials.3.) Regulation and sustainability concerns
Environmental responsibility influences the manufacturing methods of most industrial products, and nonwovens are no exception. Regulatory pressures and retailer proactivity have meant that movement towards sustainability is now common in this market.Those in the nonwovens industry feel that sustainability is a need driven by both consumers and governments, and the time to act is now rather than later. For example, while packaging has been the main area of emphasis, Walmart has acknowledged that other areas, such as nonwovens, are also important.This impacts both the consumer nonwovens market and the industrial nonwovens sector, and the suggestion that the world’s largest retailer might judge and select nonwovens based on the environmental performance of the suppliers has had an immense effect. A wide variety of products have begun changing for environmental reasons: airlace, with woodpulp replacing rayon in traditional spunlace for wet wipes, airlaid pulp replacing highloft polyester in automotive insulation, and a new ‘repurposed cotton’ fiber for use in spunlace are now marketed.4.) High performance
In some cases, industrial nonwovens materials deliver properties unattainable by other materials, leading to their increased popularity. Exemplary materials include clean-room wipes, which provide a highly entangled web with high strength and abrasion resistance. The large quantity of water used at high pressure tends to remove all loose fibers or particles all at high speed and relatively light basis weights. There are no woven products comparable.

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There are dozens of other instances where nonwovens just perform better than equivalent products, from industrial wipes to automotive insulation, from packaging to battery separators. Sometimes the pure performance of a product rather than cost or convenience drives this market.5.) New and competitive materials
The nonwovens market continues to evolve and adapt in order to best serve the needs of various industries, especially in terms of cost and performance. In spunlace, a precursor web containing segmented bicomponent fibers makes it possible to produce both a cost-effective and high performance microfiber substrate, useful in filtration and industrial wipes.Airlaid is already 80-90% wood pulp, one of the most sustainable raw materials in nonwovens. Low-density versions are a suitable replacement for foam plastic packaging, and combined with a dispersible binder, airlaid is perfect for repulpable packaging or flushable wipes. This constant adaptation to keep up with a fast-moving industry has meant that the global market for nonwovens shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Cornwall’s Gardens

September 7, 2016

The ‘Garden Capital of the World’ is often how Cornwall is thought of throughout the world. Cornwall enjoys the power of the Gulf Stream with its temperate climate of warm summers, mild and wet winters which in turn allows exotic and rare plants to thrive.Where else can you find so many gardens with history dating back to the Iron Age? As long ago as the early 19th century Cornish gardeners were part of the Victorian plant hunters who collected exotic plants and seeds from all around the world.That gives us what we have today: over 60 fabulous gardens to explore with lush vegetation and sub-tropical theatres of colour brimming with exciting, rare and beautiful plants. Cornwall’s gardens are found in our magnificent Castles, Manor Houses, grand Farm Estates, Mill Houses, sheltered valleys, high up on blustery moorland and nestled in woodland and seaside gardens which meet the turquoise hues of the water’s edge.Cornwall’s gardens are so diverse as they vary in size from small and intimate to acres of rolling countryside. Some with enchanting lakes and a Victorian boathouse to water gardens with tree ferns, rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. Others have walled gardens and manicured lawns to the newest of all two magnificent Biomes filled with magic from around the world.All around Britain you will be hard-pressed not to find a ‘Veitch’ plant or one derived from their nurseries. The Veitch family sent many collectors all over the world to bring back seeds and plants. These included two Cornish brothers, William and Thomas Lobb. William Lobb died in San Francisco in 1864 but his brother Thomas lived in Devoran until his death in 1894.In the East of Cornwall Mount Edgcumbe have The Earl’s Garden with ancient and rare trees including a 400-year-old lime. The Formal Gardens are found in the lower park and were created over 200 years ago in English, French and Italian styles. Cothele tells the story of the Tamar Valley and Antony was recently used as a backdrop for the film Alice in Wonderland. Also in the East is Ince Castle which overlooks the River Lynher. The garden enjoys woodlands filled with rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias, vibrant shrubs and formal gardens. Pentillie Castle’s gardens are only open on specific days and their orchard was replanted with old Tamar Valley varieties of apple and cherry.The South is awash with fabulous gardens which proves how sheltered this coast is in Cornwall and many are overflowing with collections of Cornish rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. We can start with Hidden Valley Gardens, Near Par. These gardens won the Cornwall Tourism Silver award 2010 for small visitor attraction. Tregrehan is a large woodland garden and is home to the Carlyon family since 1565. The Pinetum Park and Pine Lodge Gardens, Near St. Austell is a 30-acre paradise with over 6000 labelled plants. Ray and Shirley Clemo travelled the world collecting seeds and plants for this garden and a pair of black swans have made it their home.

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan at Pentewan have been voted Britain’s finest garden and has scooped the title in the Countryfile Magazine Awards 2011. Celebrating 21years since Heligan’s Lost Gardens were discovered, this beauty provides 200 acres to explore. Discover the Northern Garden, the Jungle, the Wider Estate and the Horsemoor Hide and Wildlife Project.Next on our list would be Caerhays Castle Gardens which is situated in a valley above Porthluney Cove. A horticultural treasure covering 100 acres of woodland gardens and holder of the National Magnolia Collection. Lamorran at St. Mawes is a Mediterranean-style garden with sea views over Falmouth Bay. History says that it is the most Northerly Palm Garden in the world. From Lamorran you can see the lighthouse at St. Anthony’s Head. St. Just in Roseland has a 13th century church and is set in a sheltered sub-tropical riverside garden filled with magnolias, azaleas, bamboos and giant gunnera. Trelissick Garden at Feock was planted 200 years ago and has views down the Falmouth estuary. It has year-round plant colour, an orchard, woodland walks and an art and crafts gallery. In the autumn 300 varieties of apples will be on display in the Georgian stables. Enys Gardens at Penryn is one of Cornwall’s oldest gardens dating back to 1709. Penjerrick at Budock Water is unspoilt with historic and botanic interest; relax among tree ferns and hidden paths.Moving on down the coast to Mawnan Smith is Trebah and Carwinion, these are gardens with great historic interest. Trebah is on the North bank of the Helford River and in this garden you can wander among giant tree ferns and palms. Carwinion has a renowned collection of bamboo and has 14 acres of tranquil gardens. Glendurgan lies in a sub-tropical valley running down to the Helford River. Have fun in the 180 year-old cherry laurel maze and wander through the garden and down to the hamlet of Durgan. Potager is a new organic garden and is close to Constantine, five miles from Falmouth.Down the coast further to Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula, Bonython Estate Gardens has an 18th century Walled Garden, a potager garden, an orchard of Cornish variety apple trees and woodlands. Bosahan at Manaccan is again close to the Helford River enjoying the Cornish microclimate and described as “the most Cornish of all Cornish gardens” in The Gardener magazine in 1909! Trevarno Gardens are the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of their estate with a magnificent 70 acres. Several interesting features include a Serptentine Yew Tunnel and the production of organic skincare products and soaps. Carleen Subtropical Gardens are open by appointment only and are home to collections from South America, Mexico, Central and South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Southern USA and the Mediterranean. The Hardy Exotics Garden Nursery at Whitecross, Near Penzance can create “Barbados in Birmingham” – “Mauritius in Manchester” and “Hawaii in Hertford”.Now we come to the beautiful St. Michaels Mount, walk across the causeway at low tide or travel by boat at other times. These gardens are steep but thrive in the shelter of the granite cliffs and you will find exotics from Mexico, Canary Islands and South Africa. Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens is a wonderful valley setting with St. Michaels Mount in the background. The National Trust owns Trengwainton and this historic garden is home to banana plants and enormous echiums. Finally in this part of Cornwall is Penberth which has 5 acres and is a natural valley garden incorporating sea views.Now we move on to North Cornwall which is a more rugged coast fronting the Atlantic. Our first port of call is the Japanese Garden and Bonsai Nursery in the beautiful Lanherne Valley at St. Mawgan. Just 1.5 acres but includes Water Gardens, Stroll Garden and a Zen Garden inspired by the East. Moving on up the Coast to Padstow we find Prideaux Place that has 40 acres of landscaped grounds and a deer park overlooking the Padstow estuary and the River Camel. Last but not least on this coast is Longcross Victorian Garden at Trelights, Port Isaac. This is 4 acres and gives a fine example of coastal gardening and hedging with views towards Port Isaac and Port Quin.Cornwall has some more fine gardens that are a bit more inland than the others we have mentioned before but when you are in Cornwall you are never more than sixteen miles away from the coast at any time.The 4 acres at Ken-Caro, Nr. Liskeard is another garden with a woodland walk, magnolias and rhododendrons, small but beautiful and set high above Bicton Manor Woods. Another one in the same area is Moyclare established in 1927 in 1 acre and arranged around the house. The broom “Moyclare Pink” and the astrantia “Moira Reid” originated in this garden. Pencarrow is a garden of 50 acres and this is where the Monkey Puzzle tree got its name. In this garden you can even walk on the grass! If you like one of the plants you will probably be able to buy a cutting from it. At Pinsla Garden, Cardinham there is something for everyone, an idyllic haven, and a hideaway full of secret paths with hazel arch and fantasy garden created by garden artists.Moving on once again to the National Trust owned Lanhydrock, a garden for walkers and a historical garden that has a woodland of 1000 acres. Boconnoc at Lostwithiel bas a beautiful spring garden and has camellias and azaleas from the 1850 original planting. These gardens are only open for the Spring Flower Show and Sunday afternoons during May. Trewithin close to Grampound means ‘house of the trees’ and has 30 acres of woodland gardens and more than 200 acres of surrounding parkland. The horticulturalist George Johnstone, who inherited the house in 1904, cultivated many of the seeds that came from abroad thus ensuring the reputation that Trewithin has today. Trewithin is an unforgettable garden gem.Next is the Eden Project close to St. Austell which is the newest of all our Cornish gardens. Created from a disused china clay pit in the year 2000 and the site opened on 17th March 2001. Two Biomes, one Tropical and the other Mediterranean are both constructed from a tubular steel space-frame clad in thermoplastic ETFE. At Eden you can travel around the world in a day!

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At Bosvigo on the outskirts of Truro an awkward wing of the house was demolished and using stone from the house the walled garden was created. This left a 100-year-old Victorian Conservatory standing. All the plants that are for sale in this nursery are growing in the Gardens. Burncoose at Gwennap is a 30 acre woodland garden and has achieved gold medal displays at Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows. The Nursery stocks a wide range of shrubs and herbaceous plants. Back up the coast we find Trerice, three miles from Newquay, which is a 6 acre garden but there is still space to find seclusion at any time of the year. The National Trust has owned this garden since 1953.Finally, we cross the water and arrive on the beautiful Isles of Scilly and then head for the Abbey Gardens on Tresco. This amazing sub-tropical garden is home to species of plants and trees from 80 countries ranging from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa. The building of tall windbreaks ensures any inclement weather is forced up and over the walled enclosure. The terraces at the top are hotter and drier than the ones below which give more humidity. In 1990 hurricane force winds created dreadful damage to the shelter belts and the loss of many plants but the shelter belts and garden are now restored and looking ‘better than ever’. This is one that you should not miss.Many Cornish gardens belong to the National Gardens Scheme who publishes The Yellow Book each year which is a guide or ‘bible’ to garden visiting. Most of these gardens are privately owned and only open on specific days.Lots of our gardens have tremendous interest in the Autumn such as Ellis Gardens at Polyphant, Wave Cottage at Lerryn, Half Acre at Boscastle, Primrose Farm at Skinners Bottom and Kennall House at Ponsanooth. The Homestead close to Helston is 7.5 acres and has a Wildflower Wood with over 1000 trees and a further 800 trees for a shelter and wildlife habitat.There are of course many more gardens in Cornwall, many of them small but beautiful and a lot of our gardens are Dog Friendly. So don’t leave part of the family at home, bring them along as well. It would be wise to check first with the garden you are intending to visit just to make sure that it is ‘dog friendly’. Some of our Cornish gardens are more accessible than others so again if part of your group is less agile check with the garden to make sure you will enjoy your visit.For more information on our Cornish Gardens most of them have their own website which will give you opening days and times, how to get there, what facilities are available and ticket costs.

Web Directories – Performance, Purpose, Problems – A General Guide to Web Directories

August 18, 2016

The path to building a successful web directory is far from a simple task. It requires a certain amount of devotion to take a web directory script and transform it into a heavily used directory. Web directories contain more complexities than meets the eye, and I have learned first hand that the development of a quality web directory is no walk in the park. But a good web directory is worth its weight in gold, for both webmasters & internet surfers alike. Let us enter the world of web directories.A web directory acts much like a search engine, but on a much smaller scale. Web directories are essentially a categorized index of websites that have been submitted by website owners. Directories normally have search features, allowing users to search through the entire index, just like a search engine. The main differences between a directory and a search engine is that very few directories contain the amount of links that a search engine does. Search engines also collect data from websites, which is used to categorize and rank them. Directories lack the ability to “crawl”, or exam websites as search engines due, therefore the only information a directory contains on a particular website is the information that was submitted by the website owner. Most directories use meta tags and keywords to search for websites, where as search engines use complex algorithms that take into consideration much more than meta tags (the value of meta tags in search engines has actually declined). Web directories are not the most popular internet search tools because huge search engines like Google and Yahoo are much more convenient to use and contain a vast amount of resources available to be searched. The largest and most popular web directory is the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), whose links are indexed by Google, Yahoo, and the majority of other search engines. Google and Yahoo both have their own web directories as well. Though independently owned web directories may not be so popular for internet searchers, they do have their benefits for webmasters & surfers alike.Web directories can have several purposes, it all depends on what the administration’s intended goals are. Some web directories are purely advertising hot spots, while others focus on driving targeted traffic to the directory. Some directories are free, some paid, others both. Directories can have broad topics, or specific topics. Lets start with the different types of web directories.First, we have what is commonly referred to as a “niche” directory. Niche directories have a specific topic, or niche, and the links found within the directory reflect that. Examples of a niche would be automotive directories, sports directories, shopping directories, web promotion directories, etc. Niche directories are most beneficial to internet *searchers; they have a specific topic and therefore *surfers and *searchers have a better chance of finding what they want. In a human edited niche directory, you are very unlikely to find spam sites as well.We will label the next kind of web directory as a “Free for All” directory. Free for all directories have no specific topic. They are very broad in their category selection and links are usually hidden behind several sub-categories. Free for all websites can benefit webmasters so long as the “no follow” tag is not applied (page rank increase), however it is in your best interest to avoid free for all directories for several reasons. Using a free for all directory to search for a website is more likely than not going to require you to sort through heaps of spam. A lot of free for all directories are not human edited due to the massive amount of link requests they receive, and websites are not carefully examined before being approved into the directory. The link quality of some free for all directories is extremely poor. Also, a lot of free for all directories extract data from other directories; how original. No sense in supporting the lack of creativity or devotion in such web directories. Despite a flood of low quality free for all directories, there are some very good ones available. A well organized, human edited (human edited = higher quality links) free for all directory is a great place to search for websites. It also serves webmasters with increased website exposure and if they are lucky, the directory is indexed by Google and other search engines, therefore improving its ranking on search engine result pages.

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The final type of web directories that will be examined are the poorest quality ones. Often referred to as “link farms” these directories are not human edited, due to contain high quality links, lack organization and unique features, and more often than not they become blacklisted from the major search engines. Searching these type of web directories is useless, and it’s highly recommended that you do not support such sites. Furthermore, if you are a webmaster, submitting your website to link farms will substantially decrease your popularity amongst search engines. These directories due more harm then good, and consequently give other directories a bad name.Whether you are submitting a website or searching for one, you will achieve the best results with a high quality niche directory. Webmasters, here are the common submission options for most web directories: Free submission: Submit your website to the directory for free. Simply fill out the form and wait for approval. A “no follow” tag is often placed on free submissions. Regular Submission: A small fee is usually necessary for regular submissions. Regular submissions can sometimes use the “no follow” tag. The main benefit is that submission approval times are significantly faster for regular submissions. Reciprocal Submissions: Free submissions that require a reciprocal link of the web directory to be placed onto the website you are submitting. Reciprocal submissions sometimes use “no follow’ tags, but often do not. Cost is free with reciprocal submissions. Featured Submissions: Paid submissions that grant you premium listing (websites listed in special section of category, generally above regular links), fast submission approval, and paid submissions do not place “no follow” tags on your links, meaning you gain a back link for search engine ranking benefits. Featured and regular submission fees are generally charged per year, and prices vary depending on the directory and the traffic it receives.Web directories have benefits for both webmasters and internet users. For webmasters, web directories main benefit is website exposure. Webmasters submit their websites to directories to increase their exposure. Not only can they receive traffic from people using the directory, but they can also benefit from a back link; a link to their website indexed by Google. Google ranks pages in several ways, but back links is one of the most important. A quality back link to your website increases your Google page rank. Enough quality directory back links, and your on your way to the top spot in Google search results. Bottom line: Web directories can increase your websites exposure by sending targeted traffic your way. For people using web directories as a search tool, web directories can offer you a big advantage over search engines. Search engine indexing is a big contest between website owners and therefore a lot of high quality content gets left out of the search engine result pages. Top results often go to corporations, big business, or highly devoted marketers. What about the little enthusiast and personal websites that contain valuable knowledge otherwise unavailable on the web?Well, a lot of these quality content websites can be found in web directories. If you are having trouble finding what your looking for in search engines, try searching for a niche directory and I bet you will find what your looking for. Furthermore, using web directories supports smaller businesses and helps the little guy out. Not everyone has the time or money to spend on internet marketing or website promotion, and web directories are a great way for these small websites to gain some exposure. Big search engines have monopolized the internet search market, and it makes the relationship between big search engines and website owners way to critical. Google doesn’t like you, and your sales drop 75 %. Now that does not seem right, does it? If more people frequented web directories, directory owners would gain a larger slice of the search engine market.There is a large number of web directories on the internet today that have been blacklisted by Google. It is best to avoid these directories at all costs; having your link listed there will most likely negatively affect your search engine rankings. But how do you know which directories to submit your URL to and which ones to avoid? These guidelines in rating web directories may help:1. Organization- Web Directories should be well organized and categorized.- Categories should be, neither, too broad nor too narrow. Category organization is important, but a directories search feature holds more value for finding links.- Links should be easily accessible.- Links should be posted into the correct category. If they are not, this is a sign of automated link approval, which should never be used in a directory. (Even the largest, most powerful of web directories are human edited).

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- Poor quality and spam links should not be accepted into any decent web directory.2. Advertisements- A quality directory should contain a free submission option, so it is necessary for directories to offer sponsored listings and sale advertisement space. However, the page should not be cluttered with ads. This is a sign that the directory administration is too focused on making a quick buck than enhancing the internet experience.- If the directory has a specific topic, or niche, than the advertisements should pertain to that topic. Off topic and irrelevant ads do not belong on niche directories.3. Page Rank (PR)- Rumor has it that it’s possible to fake some page rank indicators. Make sure your page rank comes from a reliable source when examining the PR of a web directory.- Page rank is important factor in website popularity. However, directories that boast high page ranks, or have their page rank in the directory name or slogan typically use the page rank factor to compensate for their downfalls. It’s like bragging…and you want a modest web directory. Find a directory that shares and uses their page rank to the benefit of directory users, not a directory that clearly lacks in features but boasts a high PR.- Directories that display website links within a category in descending order of PR are less desirable than those that display links based on popularity (unique hits). Most desirable first, not highest PR; very beneficial to new websites attempting to build initial PR.4. No Follow Tag- A web directory that uses “no follow” tags on all links is useless.- “no follow” tags are acceptable on free submissions. Reciprocal & featured submissions should not be tagged as “no follow” links. This gives value and meaning to featured (sponsored) & reciprocal links, while controlling the amount of links indexed by search engines to a reasonable number.- In a quality directory, do not fear a “no follow” on your free submission. A good directory brings in targeted traffic, and though you may be missing out on that back link, there is still a lot of potential for increasing traffic.5. Reviews, Marketing, & Promotion- Search around for reviews and recommendations on web directories. There are some really good resources when it comes to choosing quality directories.- A web directory should be marketed to both webmasters & internet surfers. If a directory only attracts webmasters, what kind of web traffic is it likely to bring? Look into how the web directory is promoted and marketed.
These 5 guidelines can help you distinguish between low quality link farms and high quality, effective web directories. I hope this information helps you in your website’s marketing and promotion campaign, in terms of website directory submission.Teal Reid, SYC Automotive Directory Administrator