This past Saturday, I traveled with my high school speech team to Decorah High School, where they competed in the Iowa High School Speech Association Large Group Contest.
It was great to see students and their coaches from St. Ansgar, Osage, Forest City and West Hancock High Schools.
I have said more than once it's great to see students from various-sized high schools compete in one of the most important, lifelong experiences.
Being on a speech team is definitely worthwhile. If your child is not a part of one, encourage him or her to give it a try.
Learning the skill of public speaking is a skill they will use their entire life.
We are seeing too many kids lose this ability through advancement in technology. We are losing the art of face-to-face communication. Be a part of the movement to slow that down by encouraging students to participate in the activity and fun world of speech.
In the end, the student will be glad to encouraged to participate. They also will surprised to find out how much speech can really be.
This week's holidays include "Wave all your fingers at your neighbor" Day on Wednesday, Feb. 7 and National "Shut-In Visitation" Day on Sunday, Feb. 11.
On "Wave all your fingers at your neighbor" Day, we celebrate our ability to communicate a wave with our entire hand not just with one specific finger.
After all the drama and arguments and challenges neighbors have endured, it's a time to put down the middle finger and raise the rest.
Wave to everyone and everything because this day is about taking time to put aside your differences and just say "hello."
So open your first, raise your right hand and begin to wave, because today is all about being friendly.
You can even be extra friendly by waving with some noisemakers or by whistling at someone you like.
Maybe you'll even discover that your neighbor was actually nice than what you thought.
Finally, this week's other holiday is a pretty serious to consider celebrating - National "Shut In Visitation" Day.
Although being celebrated on Sunday, Feb. 11, it can actually be celebrated every day.
Imagine not being able to take that daily stroll with your dog or go hiking while communing with nature,
Imagine losing the freedom to grab your keys and drive where you want, or to take in that impromptu movie showing at three in the afternoon.
Even the simple task of going outside to pick up the newspaper or checking the mail is a normal activity out of reach for some.
Those are some of the many feelings people experience who are not able to regularly get outside.
This day is set aside to spend some time with your loved ones or friend who is in this situation.
Bring them a home-cooked meal, baked goods, a puzzle or any kind of activity that you can both enjoy together.
Volunteer at a nursing home or hospice to spend the day talking, listening - simply spend time with people who don't have the opportunity to leave.
Give them back one afternoon of normalcy.
Take the time to give and you'll receive something bigger and better than you ever imagined.