Category Archives: Motivation

Student Patterns

It’s popular to attend college in America.  Either we all go, or think about going.

I went to three colleges.  I attended Pensacola Christian College for a year.  I majored in pre-law.  Decided that wasn’t for me.  Transferred to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Paramedic school for a year.  After becoming an EMT, I then transferred to the University of Montevallo and finished with a degree in history and business.

After graduation, I began teaching Latin.

In other words, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

You know what I wish?  I wish someone had sat me down and said, “Let’s look at your strengths.  Let’s look at your passions.  Let’s look at your gifts.  Let’s find out what you are good at… and then let’s head in that direction.”

I love Europe.  Absolutely love it.  I love the history, the languages, the people and the food.  To me, it’s home.  Given a choice, I would have formally studied European languages in school.  Or, I would have started some sort of travel company.  And, then there’s cycling.  Oh, man.  I love being on a bike.  Lately, I have been thinking… I wonder if I could lead bike tours of Caesar’s battlefields in France.  I would be combining French, Latin, Europe and bikes.

I would be as happy as the spaceship building character in the Lego Movie.

But, no.  That is not what I did.  Instead, I was like the man who hopped on a horse and rode off in every direction.

I can tell you from experience, that is a powerful way to waste a lot of money.

Before you go to college, Before you pick a degree, take some time to figure out what you want to do with your life.  Take some time to figure out what you’re good at.

Here’s the problem.  If you’re not sure what you want to do, and if you’re not sure what you’re good at, there’s a very good chance you are not exactly sure how to find the answers you need.

That’s where this week’s tip comes in.

Go check out this site:

Seriously, the site is worth your time.  I spent some time on it and discovered some truths about myself that I had not been able to articulate.  Turns out, I probably do not belong in the classroom.  I really do belong in a bike shop, or outside exploring.

I had some of my kids test the site out.

Sure enough, it helped them identify things about themselves that they were unable to articulate on their own.

My son should probably skip college and get right to work.  My middle daughter, on the other hand, would likely do very well in college.  Like me, she would do well studying languages.

I should only send my son to college to study languages if I hate money and need to find a way to get rid of it.

I don’t like wasting money… and neither do you.  Before you spend thousands of dollars sending your kids off, take some time to help steer them in the right direction.

Student patterns will help you do that.  Go check it out.

Have a happy Saturday!
Dwane Thomas

P.S.  Student patterns will help you answer the college/major question.  But, as my wife has pointed out multiple times, it also helps you learn more about your kids.  She looked at the results and found herself saying, “Oh. That’s why the kids act that way!”

If you, like my wife and I, need help figuring your kids out… then: Student patterns.

Every Saturday, I send out a tip of the week.  I also include announcements, upcoming classes, and so on.  If you would like to hear from me every weekend, sign up for my weekly updates here:


During my son’s recent ordeal, I discovered several things about myself that I did not like.

Among other things, I am not the Stoic I thought I was becoming.  Under pressure, I lost my cool.  More than once.  Sigh.

I also discovered that, under pressure, I stop journaling and I stop writing down all that I have to do.  (My wife, on the other hand, became a blogger under pressure.  Prolifically, she started writing everything down.   She is still blogging about my son’s recovery.  You can follow her here.)

I almost always have a small Moleskine journal with me.  Usually, whenever an idea hits, or whenever I remember something I need to take care of, I will write it down in the journal.  I write things down for one simple reason.  I can be rather forgetful.  If I don’t write it down, there is a good chance I will forget it.

During our time in Denver (where my son’s accident and subsequent hospitalization took place), I stopped writing things down.

That was fine for a few days while we traveled to Denver.  It wasn’t fine at all to stop writing things down for the two months (almost) we were living there.

There were still things to do.   Life doesn’t stop throwing “things to get done” at you.  Not even during the hard times.  Cars still run out of gas.  Bills keep coming.  Kids get hungry.   Rent is still due.  The cat needs a bath.

To keep up with what I had to do, and to keep up with the new demands created by the situation, I switched to a digital to-do list.

There are many online, but several years ago, my friends at Compass Classroom told me about Wunderlist.

If you write things down, you will enjoy Wunderlist.  You can set it up on your computer.  You can set it up on your smartphone.   And, you can link the two.

Sometimes when I am out, I will think of something I’ve got to take care of later when I return to my computer.  I will type it into my phone into the Wunderlist app.  When I am back on my computer, there the task will be.

You can even set Wunderlist up with other people.  Using this feature, other people can add items to your inbox.  Then they can use Wunderlist to remind themselves to pester you about the tasks they delegated to you.  I do not use this feature.  But, you can, if you want.  But, you cannot use it with me.

We all know it’s true.  If you write things down, you will get more done.  The studies have proved it over and over again.  We just have so much hitting us these days.  To keep up with it all, write it down.

Wunderlist it.


Every Saturday, I send out a tip of the week.  I also include announcements, upcoming classes, and so on.  If you would like to hear from me every weekend, sign up for my weekly updates here:



Found this note today while grading….

You made her year of Latin so much better than if we had attempted it alone!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

You should know that my daughter received a Gold Summa Cum Laude award this evening for her NLE this year. She missed 3 on the Latin 1 test, and her younger sister by 2 years missed 5 on the Intro. What a surprise to mom!  Thanks for making a difference!

This is our first online class, and I have to say that I am beyond impressed that our teacher who is somewhere out in the Internet world actually knows who we are!  I have always figured that you had so so many students….never would I have dreamed that you would know us the way you do.  Thanks for being personal, even if we never meet face to face!

– Julie

Want to join one of my online classes?  Simply click the blue button below: 

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I turn 44 this month.

I have heard that memory loss really kicks in around age 45.  Ironically, I can not remember where I read this.  Perhaps I am getting a head start on memory loss.

Writing every day but Sunday was one of my main goals this year.  I fell off the wagon when I moved my family to Greece.  The wagon kept moving.  When my son crashed last month, I lost sight of the wagon.   I am now running to catch up with the wagon.

To write every day requires notes.  Well, maybe.  I get on Facebook and Instagram from time to time.  Lots of people out there are writing without notes.

Anyway, I like to write from notes.  To gather information, I keep lots of notes.

In the old days, this meant clipping articles and filing those articles somewhere.  Later, I had to remember where I had filed those articles.

Thanks to Evernote, it’s so much easier these days.  I can clip as many articles as I like.  Later, when I want to write about a certain topic, all I have to do is type keywords into the search bar.  I can retrieve an article in moments.  It’s a breeze.

I organize most of my notes into three categories: healthy, wealthy, and wise.

But, I also have notes for specific projects I am working on.  If I find a helpful article related to the Greek language, for example, it goes into my Greek file.

When I am ready to write something, the information I gathered months ago, even years ago, is a simple search away.

Our memories will fail.  Evernote will enable us to fool people into thinking that we are immune to the process.  Heh.

Evernote is free. You should use it.

Have a happy Saturday!
Dwane Thomas


So… some time ago I sent out an email entitled, “Lead from the front.”  You may have noticed that the email had nothing to do with the title.
That’s because it didn’t.

I was working on another email when my son’s vehicle flipped six times on Interstate 70.  After the accident, my life became a confusing tailspin.  So, among other mistakes, I sent a misnamed email.

Some day, I may send the email that I was working on.

Life is starting to become a bit “normal” again.  My family and I left Athens, where I was studying Greek, and moved to Aurora, Colorado, where my son wrecked.  He spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit and he is now living in a rehabilitation hospital.  They say he will be there for at least a month.

My wife spends a lot of time at the hospital.  My girls and I are there too, but not as much.

As you can imagine, much has changed in our lives.  I know many of you have lived through similar situations.

Before the wreck, I rarely spent time in stores.  My wife is far better at shopping.  Since the wreck, I have ended up shopping more.  In other words, I now spend a lot of time wandering up and down aisles looking for items.  Usually, I end up bugging the workers.  Can you help me find ___________?

Fortunately, if you have a smartphone, help is available.  This application actually helps you locate items in the store… by aisle!

Likely, this app is only useful for the guys reading this. My wife and daughters just roll their eyes at me.  Somehow, they know where everything is located in stores.  I don’t know how they do this.

If you are like me, check out Shops!  Save yourself some frustration and save yourself some time.

Have a happy Monday!
Dwane Thomas

P.S.  If you are in one of my online classes, and if you are wondering, the answer is, “Yes. Classes WILL resume tomorrow.”

And, finally, if you are waiting for a response from me, hang in there.  Doing my best to catch up.

Collateral Beauty

For the first time in two weeks, life is beginning to look normal again.

Just over two weeks ago, my son nearly lost his life in a car accident.  He survived, but just barely.

A local newspaper posted a picture of our van here:.

After almost two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit, he is now in a rehabilitation center here in Aurora, Colorado.  He is recovering.  He has a long way to go, but he is recovering.

At the time of the accident, my family and I were in Athens, Greece.  I had moved everyone there so that I could intensively study the Greek language.

It is every parent’s nightmare to receive the phone call we received while living on the other side of the world.  I hope I never have to go through that again.

On the flight home from Greece, one of my girls watched the movie Collateral Beauty.  When she finished, she leaned across her sisters and whispered, “Dad.  Watch Collateral Beauty.”

We still had 6, or so, hours in the air.  So, I listened to my daughter.  I watched the movie.

I don’t want to give too much away.  But, there is a pivotal scene in the movie.  One of the main characters is in the hospital waiting as a loved one dies.  A stranger asks, “Are you losing someone?”  After receiving a tearful affirmative, the stranger says, “As you go through this, don’t forget to notice the collateral beauty around you.”

My girls and I were in the air.  We were on the way to Denver to be with my wife and son.  (My wife had flown out of Athens immediately.  My girls and I had stayed behind to close down our life overseas.)   At this point, we did not know if my son would survive.   The movie hit home.

As events began to unfold, I tried to notice the collateral beauty. around me.  It didn’t take much effort.  I realized we were surrounded by it.

So, this is my way of saying thanks.  Thanks to all of you who surrounded my family with collateral beauty.

There is no way I will remember everyone, but I am going to begin anyway and update as I remember.

Thank you, Amanda, for turning around on Interstate 70 to save my son’s life.  I hope I get to meet you someday.

To all of my students, who have not complained at all, thank you.  I have canceled classes and have provided little information.  You have responded with overwhelming encouragement for my family.  Thank you.

Thank you, Χάρης for all of the help.  Thank you for the taxis to the airport.  Thank you for understanding.  I am sorry we had to leave without saying goodbye.  Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ.

To the Greek woman at the British Airways counter who realized that, because I booked our flights at the last minute, my girls and I were would not be able to sit together, thank you.  I can only guess that it was you who moved us to business class.

To the British Airways flight attendant who treated my girls as though they were his granddaughters, thank you.  I wish I had written your name down.

To British Airways, thank you.  I have flown over the Atlantic many times on many carriers.  You have figured it out.  To borrow from your own colloquialisms, “Good on you.  Very well done.”  I will fly with you as often as I can from this point forward.

To the TSA agents in Dallas, thank you.  Thank you for reminding me to be a better, kinder person.  Thank you for reminding me not to treat people the way you treat people.  You guys have a tough job, I am sure, but gee whiz, guys.  Show a little humanity.  People are not trying to personally offend you.  They are just trying to get to their destinations.

Thank you to the medical staff of The Medical Center of Aurora for keeping my son alive.  You guys are amazing.

To Emily, who started a Go Fund Me page for my family, thank you.  I wouldn’t have thought of that.  I have been rather foggy (mentally) since my Jackson wrecked.

To all of you who have donated to the Go Fund Me account, thank you.  And, good grief.  Your generosity is blowing me away.  Once again, my wife and I feel like George Bailey in the final scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  This scene:


To those who were at the hospital before my family and I could arrive, thank you.   Thank you, Leticia, Sienna, Thomas, Heather, Mom and my sister, Dawn.  Because you were there, we could travel with a little less fear and a little more hope.

To all of you who let my family know on Facebook that you were praying for my son, thank you.

To the Classical Conversations communities in the Denver area that have reached out to us in many ways, thank you.  Thank you, Charlene.  Thank you, Richelle.  Thank you, Cindy.   I hope to meet you all.  Life is starting to become a little more normal these days, so perhaps that can happen.  It looks like we will be here in Colorado until the end of May at least.

Thank you, Ashley, Richelle, Charlene (and those I am forgetting) for offering your homes to us.  Offering your home to six people takes courage.  That means a lot to me.

Thank you, Tiffany and Leticia, for the delicious food.  What a relief it was not to have to think about food for a day.

Thank you, Vicky, Larry, and Noelle, for spending ridiculous amounts of money to ship things to Colorado just to keep my girls happy.

Thank you, Maresa, for flying out to spend time with Jackson in ICU so that Gretchen and I could rest for a bit.

Thank you, Franklin, and thank you McCreary’s for throwing a party for Jackson.  He was surprised (and very happy) when he found out his hometown was partying in his honor.

Thank you, Robbie, for setting that party up.  Thank you also for the untold hours you have spent getting the word out for us.  I had no time and energy for that.  As usual, you rock at that kind of stuff.  Huge help to us.

This is only the beginning.  There are so many who have helped in so many ways.  I will continue updating.  Right now, though, I am off to the rehabilitation center to spend some time with Jackson.